Hiring in the new normal: A guide to successful recruitment during a pandemic

For some businesses, the current pandemic has resulted in a total recruitment freeze. For others, it has resulted in closed doors and liquidation. However, for essential services and businesses who are looking to the future, COVID has resulted in resourcing teams being busier than ever.

Here at Great Annual Savings (GAS) we were faced with a dilemma early into the pandemic. We knew that we still had a job to do in substantially scaling up the workforce, but we were unable to conduct traditional interviews.

We have had to adapt quickly to ensure we are filling company vacancies with top calibre candidates – all whilst unable to meet them in person.

Here, Team GAS shares experiences and some essential tips.

Getting your vacancies seen

To initiate the process, just like with pre-COVID recruiting, you need to get the word out that you are hiring. Make use of your existing colleagues, including marketing, by asking them to share messages on social media or by introducing a referral scheme whereby they are rewarded for candidate recommendations.

Many businesses, including GAS, have an existing talent pool of contacts that have previously applied for roles or have sent in speculative CVs. Victoria Walton, Head of Resource and Talent at GAS explains: “By tapping into existing resources, you could save on budget allocated to advertising roles. Your existing talent pool should always be your first port of call when recruiting.”

The required skillset

As more and more people are working remotely, it is worth thinking about required skills that may not have previously been a priority. Attributes such as self-motivation, excellent written communication and organisation were of importance before, however they should now play a pivotal part in candidate selection.

Choosing the right candidates

As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has resulted in many businesses unfortunately closing their doors for good and many people losing their jobs. With this comes an increase in applications. At GAS, we have had a record number of applications recently with often hundreds of applications for individual positions.

This poses the challenge of sifting through thousands of CVs, all whilst maintaining speed and allocating adequate time to each CV – you would not want the perfect candidate slipping through the net.

To save time and increase efficiency, the GAS Resourcing team have set out to work even more closely with hiring managers to establish the granular details and requirements of each role. As Victoria explains: “Once you have a thorough specification, you are more equipped to identify the right individual for the job.”

The first stage interview

Just like in a pre-pandemic world, this is generally conducted over the phone. Only now, there are different factors to consider. You need to figure out whether an application has been made for the right reasons.

Victoria states: “It is at this stage we determine the applicant’s motivations for applying to work with GAS. We want to make sure that we are selecting the best people for a long, successful career with us, not an individual who is applying with short-sighted intentions.”

“As a growing business, we also need to make sure that we are hiring individuals who represent the GAS brand and are eager to be part of our exciting future.”

Videoconferencing 101

So, you have selected the successful candidates from your stage one interviews, now it is time to (virtually) meet them. In a previous blog, GAS colleagues revealed their top video conferencing tools with features like screen sharing explored, which will be necessary if this stage includes a presentation.

Once you have selected your video conferencing platform and you are fully up to speed on how to navigate it, you are all set to start sending out conference invites. These should include:

  • Date and time
  • Details on who will call whom
  • A link to the meeting
  • Dress code expectations

Top Tip: If you are currently working from a COVID-secure office, make sure you book a meeting room for the interview. Neither you nor the candidate will then be distracted by activity in the communal office and confidentiality can be maintained.

You’ve selected your candidate – what’s next?

During very uncertain times, it is important that you and your company provide stability for your candidates. Make sure you are clear when explaining the parameters of the role. Is it permanent? Will it be home-based initially? Or permanently?

You need to make your onboarding process as clear and structured as possible. Collaborate with the hiring manager to ensure there is a schedule of activity for the recruit.

Victoria Walton explains: “In a regular environment, being able to provide clear objectives is vital during the onboarding process. This is only intensified during a pandemic.”

Whether or not your recruit is going to be office-based or remote, they need to feel immersed in your company culture. Here at GAS we provide new colleagues with a welcome pack, for remote workers, these will be couriered.

We would also encourage the hiring manager and team members to reach out to their new colleague so that they feel included.

Just because you are unable to do a classic ‘meet the team’ in person does not mean it cannot be done virtually. Try experimenting with fun initiation ideas such as sending new colleagues gifs or short videos from their new team members.

 

For more insider hints and tips from our in-house, expert Resourcing team visit the GAS Talent Hub.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.

Quote:

“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.