As we continue to climb out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to look to the future and plan for our “new normal.” In the world of talent acquisition, that likely means being thrust back into a highly competitive talent landscape with high job openings and low unemployment.
This may look similar to pre-pandemic hiring trends, but workers arguably have higher expectations from their employers now. They want remote work. They want diverse teams and inclusive company cultures. They want higher pay. And they’re willing to switch jobs or stay out of the workforce a bit longer, in order to find the opportunity that best suits them.
Competition for talent is going to be fierce, but there are some things employers can do now to prepare themselves for the post-pandemic hiring surge.
Start building your talent pipeline now
If you’re expecting a significant uptick in requisitions and know which roles you will be hiring for, get a headstart on building your talent pipeline. This is especially useful for evergreen roles, where a larger talent pool can help you more easily meet hiring demand. Even if you typically find enough candidates through job ads and referrals, proactively sourcing candidates will give you more control over the diversity of your talent pool.
You may even choose to begin candidate outreach. Just be sure to let candidates know that you’re not planning to begin interviews quite yet, and that they will be the first to know when you are. Many people have held off on switching jobs due to the pandemic, but one in four workers is considering quitting their jobs after the threat of the pandemic subsides. Building rapport early can give your candidates time to consider the idea of changing roles and give you a competitive hiring advantage.
Get your processes in order
A lot has probably changed at your organization during the pandemic, and things will likely continue to change in the post-pandemic workplace. Update your formal processes to reflect those changes. For example:
- Recruitment: Revisit your recruitment process end-to-end, optimizing as needed for better equity, quality of hire, and candidate experience. For instance, create structured interviews, provide interviewer training, and eliminate unnecessary steps in your hiring process. And if you’re embracing hybrid work for the first time, consider how you might need to adjust your recruiting process to accommodate remote candidates or interviewers.
- Candidate nurturing: Great candidates will be increasingly difficult to come by, so make a plan to nurture those you find but don’t hire. This might include proactively sourced candidates who don’t respond to your initial outreach, people who aren’t ready to make a move just yet, or highly qualified runners-up for previous job openings. Spend some time creating candidate nurturing campaigns for each group so you can keep in touch until the time is right for both of you.
- Employee onboarding: Create a consistent, engaging employee onboarding process to help your new hires transition into happy, productive team members. Again, organizations that are hybrid for the first time should consider how onboarding will differ for remote team members. For instance, you may need to ship equipment out ahead of time, or set up a Zoom call to welcome them to the team on their first day. Providing the same red carpet experience, regardless of a new team member’s location, will help set your team up for success.
Update your employer branding
Employer offerings and worker expectations have changed significantly since the pre-pandemic competitive talent landscape. For instance, employers and workers alike have embraced remote work. Most employers (90 percent) plan to allow their team members to work remotely, at least some of the time, and 77 percent of people want to work remotely between at least one day per week. Other changes might include an increased focus on employee health and wellbeing, and less focus on in-office perks like catered lunches.
Update your employer branding materials to reflect recent changes and appeal to the candidates you most want to hire. This includes:
- Your career site. Share a realistic picture of what candidates can expect from your company. This might include your commitment to diversity and inclusion, your benefits and perks, and opportunities for professional development.
- Job descriptions. Your job descriptions may be the first piece of content a candidate sees from your company, so make them count. Again, highlighting remote work opportunities may appeal to more candidates than your office setup or location. And if improving diversity and inclusion is a goal for your organization, check your job postings for inclusive language and consider adding an inclusion statement.
- Social media: Update candidate-facing profiles on third party sites to narrate a consistent, authentic company story to candidates across all channels. This might include updating your LinkedIn company page or your employer review profiles on Glassdoor or Fairygodboss.
Seventy five percent of candidates research a company and their employer brand before applying for a job, so make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
Get your HR tech stack in order
Your technology should support your processes and needs—but your processes and needs may have changed. Take time before the post-pandemic hiring surge to re-evaluate your current HR technology stack and make necessary changes.
For instance, look at your:
- Sourcing tools. Are you able to find the types of candidates you want to hire? How are candidate response rates? Is it easy to import candidates into your applicant tracking system? Can you build your own Boolean search strings? Are there filters to help you identify candidates from underrepresented groups, or features that minimize unconscious biases?
- Applicant tracking system. Does your applicant tracking system support your hiring process? Does it integrate with your other recruiting solutions, like sourcing tools and background check platforms? Is it easy to use, for recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers alike? Does it contribute to a positive candidate experience?
- People Ops Platform. Does it integrate with your other HR solutions, including your Performance Management System and payroll platform? Can it automate key processes, like employee onboarding? Does it contribute to a great employee experience?
Perhaps more importantly, can your HR technology stack equip your team to handle a post-pandemic surge and meet your organizational goals? Integrated best-of-breed solutions can help you automate repetitive tasks, create stronger candidate and employee experiences, support hybrid workforces, and build more diverse teams.
Final thoughts on the post-pandemic hiring surge
As you begin putting more attention toward talent acquisition, don’t forget about employee retention. Twenty six percent of workers are planning to quit their jobs this year. This could spell unusually high turnover at your organization, leaving you spinning your wheels to backfill positions rather than focusing on growth.
The biggest reason people are leaving their jobs is for career advancement. You can tackle two challenges at once by developing and promoting your existing team members into more skilled positions, and then backfilling the role they left behind. This will help you retain the people you’ve worked so hard to recruit, while allowing you to target less skilled—and therefore easier to find—candidates. Building talent, rather than buying it, is one of the best long-term ways to survive the post-pandemic hiring surge.