How should recruiters deal with the COVID-19 crisis?

As the COVID-19 crisis has turned the entire world on its head, recruiters are facing some of the most challenging times in recent history. How to move to a virtual recruitment process? How to onboard new hires who are working from home? In a recent appearance on Recruiting Future with Matt Alder, recruitment guru Johnny Campbell shares some valuable advice for recruiters. 

Jasper Spanjaart on March 20, 2020 Average reading time: 3 min
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How should recruiters deal with the COVID-19 crisis?

Campbell, CEO of Social Talent, a leading recruitment training solution, had not worked from home for 12 years. “I’m not a big fan of it”, he says on Alder’s podcast. “I’ve got four kids running around the house and you can only try to remain calm. Be supportive of your community and your family, and in our business: try to support our customers in any way we can.” 

With the idea of social distancing well and truly in place in most parts of the world, the recruitment process now has to adapt to its new reality. Recent hires still have to be onboarded accordingly. Job interviews still have to take place as vacancies need to be filled and tasks need to be sorted. “Everyone in recruitment has flocked towards virtual interviewing, but it is a fundamentally different way of recruiting, and people aren’t used to it”, Campbell says.

“Keep to the same structure, because the fundamentals don’t change.”

Though things aren’t the same, Campbell stresses recruiters should maintain the same approach in job interviews. “Keep to the same structure, because the fundamentals don’t change. Give that person the best possible opportunity. 50% of all communication is non-verbal, so turn your camera on and present yourself in the best possible way, it allows them to do the same.”

A double impact

On a different note, Campbell also sees a positive impact for recruiters. “For the first time I think in history, recruiters and sourcers were able to reach candidates via phone. You can call up people during the day, and they’d answer.” Unfortunately that may be one of the only slim positives, as Campbell described a large-scale hiring freeze. “Some companies are still hiring, but for the most part there’s a cut-back.”

“Universally, I’m hearing across the board that people are afraid to move jobs.”

Campbell adds that it doesn’t always have to do with the organisational mindset, but more so the candidates. “Universally, I’m hearing across the board that people are afraid to move jobs. A general tendency I’m seeing is that people are paralysed, even though there are job opportunities. They don’t want to commit when there’s so much uncertainty.” 

Virtual onboarding 

Companies are now having to deal with the unique situation wherein they have to onboard new personnel without meeting face-to-face. At the same time, employees are faced with perhaps an even more daunting task. “They have teams to bond with. They have to figure out the organisational culture, the hierarchy. Fear of joining a new company is big anyway, imagine what it’s like for them now. It’s a crazy time for them too”, Campbell says.

“Fear of joining a new company is big anyway, imagine what it’s like for them now. It’s a crazy time for them too”

Campbell sees an opportunity for Talent Acquisition teams to broaden their roles at a time like this. “Now it’s all hands on deck. People panic about benefits, sick leave or even redundancies. And during a time like this, often the onboarding or pre-boarding process may get dropped. Most TA teams are really looking to encompass, if not onboarding, definitely pre-boarding. It’s no longer just HR’s task. It’s all to make sure that when people arrive on day 1, they already know half of what they need to know.”

And that can easily be achieved online, according to Campbell. “Things like ‘Meet the team’, ‘here’s how our systems work’, ‘here’s what we’re all about’. Whilst everyone is busy, it’s important to start now. Sit back, and think about how we’re giving that new employee the best possible experience. If someone is not onboarded correctly, there is a chance of them leaving or being a low-performing individual because they don’t know how things work. And your business can’t afford that right now.”

Keeping the troops motivated

Though Talent Acquisition teams may be used to working remotely, Campbell says it’s important to keep the troops motivated from afar. “You have to maintain a balance. You have to make sure they still feel like they’re part of a team. And this can be accomplished virtually, even if it’s just for 15 minutes at the start, and 15 minutes at the end of the day. Just hover everyone together to say hello.”

“You have to make sure they still feel like they’re part of a team”

As far as methods go, Campbell mentions an approach used by Red Branch CEO Maren Hogan called #6things. “Everyone has 6 things that they are going to do that day, and at the end of the day you catch up to see how they got on. It’s super effective. I used to work in the pub industry where every night I huddled up with my staff. You start the night with ‘What’s everyone doing?’. And you end the night with a small evaluation how everyone got on. It works.”

Have a virtual coffee

Maintaining a focus on the business-side of things is important, but Campbell also stresses to really stay in touch with your colleagues or employees. “Having the right mental health and well-being is crucial at a time like this. People get lonely. I joked about it being crazy around the house because I have four kids, but I’m glad there’s some noise. Think about your colleagues who don’t have that and catch up with them. It’s all about stopping for a moment and saying: ‘Let’s have a coffee together.’”

It’s all about stopping for a moment and saying: ‘Let’s have a coffee together.’

Campbell’s words are applicable to any working situation, where people now have to work from home rather than from a shared space. “Make time for social interactions”, he concludes. “Those are the important things to remember as you – and everyone else – is balancing this new world of working and managing teams remotely.”

So, without further hesitance: go have that virtual coffee. 

This article was based on Johnny Campbell’s appearance on on Recruiting Future with Matt Alder.  Subscribe and listen to the podcast here. 

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Jasper Spanjaart

Jasper Spanjaart

Writer and editor at ToTalent

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