How COVID has changed the recruitment industry for the better
Updated: Feb 9
As restrictions start to lift and we see life slowly return to the way we were before COVID, it is a good time to reflect on the challenges that this pandemic has thrown at us and how we have responded. We know 2020 has been a difficult time for many companies and individuals, but this challenging time has also seen some businesses shine.
Through quick thinking leadership and fast adoption of change, these businesses will not only survive in this market, but come out the other side stronger. Here are some of the changes we have seen that will transform the recruitment industry for the better.
The rise of remote working
There is no denying that flexible and remote working was already on the rise before COVID-19 and was likely to increase anyway. COVID simply accelerated that process for many organisations. Because of social distancing restrictions, the recruitment industry, like many others, was forced to adapt almost instantly to a new way of working.
For some organisations, who had already invested in cloud-based technology that supported remote working, the change was relatively smooth. For others, with a more traditional business model centred on face-to-face working, COVID-19 forced their hand to either start making better use of their existing platforms or invest in new technology.
Now as we are starting to come out the other side of this pandemic, even in a people-orientated industry like recruitment, businesses are seeing the benefits in some employees continuing with remote and flexible working. On a financial level, this may reduce the amount of office space required but it also may increase employee satisfaction, work life balance, productivity and, ultimately, results for your clients.
Many recruiters and their clients, have long held the belief that face-to-face is the only way in our industry. For many, this has meant client meetings and candidate interviews are always done in person. During the COVID period, when we couldn’t connect face-to-face, even the most reluctant recruiters have been forced to embrace technology, like video conferencing, as their new way to communicate with clients, candidates and colleagues. And many of these video sceptics have been pleasantly surprised.
Using these technologies as part of the hiring process has saved significant time, as you can review a large pool of candidates in a fraction of the time it would take you to do so in person. They give the candidate a chance to put their best foot forward and make a great first impression that isn’t overtaken by their nerves.
Many recruiters are also finding the time and costs saved from holding client video conferences is outweighing the benefits gained from the traditional face-to-face meetings. This by no means replaces all in-person contact, it still has an important role, but face-to-face meetings may just be less frequent.
Utilising and investing in technology
During this pandemic, technology has been a recruiter’s best friend. With the bulk of your time focused on working with clients to secure job listings, many recruiters are relying on their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to help them fulfil the hiring process, continue to attract top talent and maintain strong relationships with their current pool of candidates.
The recruitment industry has already experienced a higher number of candidates during this pandemic, and with the jobless rate in Australia now at the highest it has been since 2015, this is only going to grow further.
One way we have seen recruiters manage the influx of candidate applications is to set up a self-service portal for candidates. This enables a candidate to directly update their CV, contact details, skills, experience, photos and references, directly into your ATS. This ensures your ATS is up to date, the candidate knows you have their current information and you can identify the best candidates for a role quickly.
Many recruiters have also used this time to start utilising their ATS to help with their admin tasks. This has saved significant time each day by using the system to automate the hiring process, from posting job adverts to screening CVs, interviewing candidates, completing reference checks, and sending letters of offer. Providing the recruiter with more time to focus on the value-add tasks rather than administration.
Prioritising the candidate experience
We know this time hasn’t been easy for anyone, and this is especially true for those that have found themselves without work. So now more than ever, it is important to provide every candidate with a good experience. Whether it’s sourcing, screening, selection or onboarding, how a candidate is treated and communicated with at each of these stages is important in shaping their experience.
No one wants to be left in the dark. Not letting a candidate know where they are in the application process is one of the main factors contributing to a poor experience. This isn’t always easy, especially when you are dealing with a large number of applicants. More recruiters are realising it doesn’t have to be a personal response; their ATS can help. Many are using their ATS to send out bulk rejection emails or send automated emails at each stage of the process to keep applicants informed.
Whether COVID has forced your business to invest in new technology or simply make better use of its current technology stack, it has driven the digital transformation of the recruitment industry for the better, and it is my hope that this adoption will continue post-COVID and well into the future.