As the COVID-19 reshapes the landscape of the workforce and economy, many organizations are strictly staying in survival mode during these uncertain times. However, the opportunities that come with hiring during the pandemic is being overlooked by many organizations at this time.
Shortages & Shifts
According to recent research, nearly four-fifths of CEOs worry about skill shortages in the workplace. This figure has almost doubled since 2012. External hiring reached record highs as companies hired for top positions in 2019. This shift caused sizeable global search firms to increase by 9% to 15% last year.
However, during these uncertain times in 2020, many companies are laying their workers off while they downsize. Some sectors of business even see their industries collapse entirely. There will soon be a shift where anyone — from freshly graduated students to veterans of the business world — will be looking for employment across many different fields.
Globalization, one of the main catalysts of fierce competition for global talent, might also recede as companies look more closely into their international expansion and cross-border business strategies. During this re-examination by companies, employees are also analyzing how much their personal goals and family time mean to them. This analysis could have implications on how they work, travel, and move within companies in the future.
Talented pools of workers are widely available in an ever-changing and expanding workspace. While preparing for a post-pandemic world for recovery, leaders can make the most out of this current landscape of change by focusing on hiring top talent during COVID-19.
If we look back, one lesson that history can teach us is that economically unstable times have created opportunities for talented employees and visionary leaders.
During the latter part of the 1940s, future electronic giants Hewlett Packard were struggling with their business and finances. The company's business was slow, and its funds strained, but HP's founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard had an idea. The duo realized that as many engineers were let go from soon-to-be closing U.S. military labs, they could not pass up an opportunity to hire skilled talent. When they were asked later on how they could afford to take on that much talent during the lean year, the two responded with a mindset of how they could afford NOT to.
Over the years, HP maintained that the secret to their success was their willingness to hire, no matter the economic climate. While many panic and freeze during emergencies, the best of leaders routinely stay calm and use a crisis to their advantage. Think about a building burning down. Can you imagine bringing in architects to plan a new one, even when firefighters are working to save the old one? That is precisely what visionary leaders can do.
The benefits of long-term thinking have been evident during an analysis of 4,700 companies in the last three recessions. The study revealed that 9% of companies fared much better when they maintained a more significant sight of the bigger picture in times of economic stress. While they did cut back in various departments in their organizations, these companies were strategic about their cuts, while continuing to invest their money wisely.
During hard times, while it is tempting to think just in terms of you are either hiring or downsizing, resist that urge. Instead, remember the story of HP embracing the "and" of doing both strategies, while recognizing that you have the opportunity to accomplish many other tasks if you properly identify where the opportunities lie.
Many companies immediately look into downsizing their employee pool as soon as economic hard times hit. During the 2008 global recession, 3,400 executives, including 90 senior human resources leaders in more than 30 countries, were researched to see how they responded to the crisis. The most pervasive action amongst the executives was to cut back jobs during the financial crisis. However, participants in this study also noted that selective hiring of top talent from competitors is a beneficial response to previous financial crises while keeping employee morale high. While irrationality is exceptionally high during hard times, leaders who maintain a calm and collected head can actually benefit from a bad situation.
How do you want to benefit from a once-in-a-lifetime employee hiring opportunity? Here are some tips for capitalizing while staying smart and disciplined through these ideas.
Let your leaders recommend who they would have liked to hire in the last five years. Then, try checking in with those people.
Top candidates will probably be individuals that your senior leaders have done business with over the years, including suppliers, advisors, and clients. There might be others they have also assessed for other positions. During your next senior meeting, discuss the possibility of ranking them in order of how their skills suit your company. Then, agree as a whole on whom you would like to contact.
Set up a task force dedicated to finding talent from specialized industries
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, recently said that the company's high rate of hiring is a critical factor in its success. Many employees at Amazon are regularly dedicated to bringing in new hires from specialized industries. One of those sectors is the United States Military, which in Bezos' view is the most talented pool of workers in the country.
All companies should bring this level of commitment and focus on finding new talent, especially during these uncertain times. One step you can take is to have your top HR leaders assign leading managers to scout for new talent during this period. They may look for exceptional workers in hard-hit industries like the airline business, recreation, travel, or struggling startups.
Commit to interviewing candidates remotely and checking references
Despite the limitations that COVID-19 caused to society, we thankfully have modern technology to help us meet and contact potential employees. During this point in time, it is a must that you utilize every resource available, including video conferences and old-fashioned telephone calls. Then, follow sound recruitment advice that you would in any other situation.
List down the qualities you are looking for in new hires and work on recruiting from there. In this time of shifting and change, soft skills are an essential feature to look for in your potential candidates. These can include inspirational leadership, adaptive behavior in tough situations, and a life-long learner always seeking growth. These skills will stem from a candidate's natural insight, curiosity, determination, and motivation for excellence. You can ask behavior-related questions to see how the person measures up against what you are looking for. Questions like, "Tell me about a time you lead your team through a tough transition," are right for discussion.
After your conversation with each candidate, record your thoughts, and compare your notes with other interviewers. Carefully check their character references. Research shows that third-party opinions on soft skills are always much more than an individual's view of them.
Motivate great candidates
Once you have found a perfect candidate for onboarding, arrange a schedule to introduce that individual to senior leaders in the organization who can share core company values. While pay can be a great motivator for employees, research has shown that a feeling of purpose, autonomy, and mastery in a career is a force of good for them as well. During these unprecedented times, employees will also value continued flexible work schedules and the chance to build companies they morally support.
Do not ignore the in-house talent
As you search for talent in other industries, this is also a time to assess the employees you already work with. Carefully re-examine their skillsets and see how they can help your company during these trying times. Guide your current employees to bringing in more success by assisting them to work on the best assignments arising from crises. Help your current employees find a purpose in their work, rather than letting competitors sway them away.
There are many opportunities to grow and shape your talent pool during a pandemic, and whenever trouble strikes. If you are looking for more talent at this time, Infinity Consulting Solution (ICS) is the firm to start your search. ICS specializes in assisting Fortune 500 companies in their talent acquisition. As one of the top staffing agencies in the country, ICS works to find the most qualified professionals and flexible staffing solutions for companies of all sizes, focusing on relationships above all else. Contact us today for more information.