While recruitment has historically been carried out in office settings, the future will undoubtedly incorporate some level of remote working. Like many other white-collar industries, 2020 forced recruiters to reevaluate how and where they work. The dynamic of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the rate of transition to a remote professional environment. This transition landed most employees in work-from-home (WFH) situations and, subsequently, recruiting strategies had to be adapted for this new approach. While the core elements of recruitment will remain the same, the shift to remote work is forcing change in some interesting (and sometimes unexpected) ways.
“The transition that many organizations have made to incorporating remote working opportunities has opened up the market to new talent dynamics,” says Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search, a boutique executive search firm specializing in the retail, services, real estate, luxury, and hospitality sectors. “Organizations are no longer as constrained by geography when looking for top talent to bring into their organizations, and individuals are no longer restricted to finding work in their immediate locations, too.”
Remote hiring, or virtual recruiting, is the process of companies or their recruiting partners to source, pre-screen, interview, and onboard new employees on a completely remote basis, all with the aid of remote tools and methods. Virtual meeting software—including Skype, Zoom, and Teams—allow face-to-face meetings while email and communication apps mimic the experience of on-site coordination. Even onboarding can be completed remotely with the utilization of e-signature documents for new hire paperwork.
Other technologies, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and client relationship management systems (CRM) allow the consolidation of processes and information in a singular location. The implementation of these systems allows coordination on a global scale, if necessary.
Hub and Spoke & Hybrid Models
The technology industry adopted the concept of the Hub and Spoke model pre-pandemic and the method has been slowly integrated into other industries and organizations. This method provides opportunities to work from home in separate locations while providing a corporate space to facilitate group interactions.
Similarly, organizations are implementing a hybrid model for the workplace supporting a split of onsite and work-from-home employees. This method embraces the flexibility of an organization to provide a workplace for both preferences.
Many organizations are implementing these methodologies or altered versions of them. With a more dynamic workplace option, the types of candidates and corresponding expectations are likely to alter with the implementation.
The lack of human interaction has been one of the most challenging aspects of the shift to remote operations, posing a new difficulty in onboarding new hires. Existing employees prior to a shift to working remotely had the opportunity to form prior social relationships that can be transitioned to the digital realm. New hires are likely to struggle in building similar connections and feel as if they are part of a team. This can be effectively combatted with a communication-oriented application process making each candidate feel like a priority, even without the result of an eventual offer. Bolstering communication will facilitate a smoother transition for employees and feel connected to the team.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)
Online recruitment provides a real opportunity to significantly reduce unconscious biases, ultimately improving internal diversity. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic and various social movements, companies are under more pressure than ever to actively promote diversity and inclusion initiatives. With the broader shift to remote work well underway, recruiters can begin expanding their pool of talent just by being able to search in areas beyond the major metros. Moreover, as internal processes are optimized for online recruitment, there are also opportunities to address DEI as a foundational part of the process design, rather than simply tacking it on to existing systems.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) will certainly be a continuing focus area for recruiters, especially as more candidates are making job choices based on the organization’s DEI dynamic. Many companies are utilizing tools to root out bias in the hiring process and build systems that promote and develop employees equitably.
“An interesting trend we’re seeing in hiring because of work-from-home is an increased number of interviews happening with more diverse team members throughout an organization,” says Joseph Puglise, Senior Director of Executive Search and Recruiting at global executive search firm JMJ Phillip Group. “Because you’re not getting the office tour and culture, we’re seeing companies make a bigger effort around getting more people as part of the interview process.”
While the face of external recruiting is changing, it is expected that companies will slash external recruiting budgets while bolstering learning and development (L&D) strategies and influence. Experts believe that employers will build their workforce through internal mobility programs aligned to reskilling initiatives or engaging contingent talent instead of hiring externally. A realignment to internal mobility programs allows increased engagement, lower costs, a shorter hiring process, and, most notably, improved retention.
Empathy in the Post-Pandemic Job Search
As candidates and customers look for companies to take stronger stances on social issues, recruiting leaders will increasingly focus on employer branding. While showcasing the company’s products, perks, and office amenities, it will become just as important to demonstrate how the company supports employees, customers, and communities, particularly in times of crisis.
Partnerships with nonprofits, coordination with employee assistance programs, and the small acts of kindness that companies take demonstrate empathy and shape the employer brand for years to come. To earn trust, recruiters will show the company in a more vulnerable light. Organizations are taking initiative in holding themselves accountable for shortcomings and being transparent about plans to address them. The digital impression of a company heavily influences employment opportunities. Recruiters will be expected to be more empathetic in their outreach, accommodate their approach, and understand the needs and struggles of candidates during unprecedented times.
Recruiting teams have altered their preferences given recent times, but the preferences for recruiting personnel have evolved as well. Personal development, the ability to add new skills, is quickly becoming the fastest-growing skill for recruiters. Recruiters serve as the bridge between a company’s hiring needs and key human resources (HR) initiatives. Skills including diversity and including (D&I), decision-making, and strategy are rapidly becoming the most sought-after skills in a candidate. These individuals will bring clarity to talent data, reshape employer branding, and streamline the virtual hiring process.
In a post-COVID environment, it is clear that remote hiring will play an important part in the professional landscape on a global scale. Technology, workplace models, and the face of organizations are expected to drastically change to accommodate a rapidly evolving professional landscape.
Kane Carpenter is the Director of Marketing for Clarke Caniff Strategic Search. In this role, Kane is responsible for driving market awareness across the entire JMJ Phillip Holdings portfolio of companies. Kane also manages Employment BOOST’s Career Services function for and leads hiring and recruitment efforts. Kane is currently pursuing an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, and is Google Advertising Certified.