The COVID-19 pandemic has changed recruiting and hiring practices for employers. Some of those changes created new opportunities, while others have left hiring managers frustrated by what they say is a lack of quality applicants for positions at certain pay levels.

So how does hiring in 2021 compare to before the pandemic? We asked Stacey Goolsby, Syndeo’s Staffing Manager, for her insight about her experiences in trying to fill job openings over the past year and how technology changed COVID-19 hiring practices.

Here are five ways Goolsby says the pandemic has altered recruiting approaches for attracting job candidates.

  1. In-person job fairs and open houses are mostly conducted virtually or in a drive-through fashion.
  2. Video recruiting also has become a common practice and is expected to continue post pandemic.
  3. Applicants are submitting applications through video.
  4. Interviews and job interviews are being conducted and shared in a similar fashion.
  5. Video meetings also are used to allow job candidates to virtually meet hiring managers, get questions answered or take a virtual office tour.

Goolsby estimates about 90 percent of the interviews she has conducted over the past year have been done through online platforms, such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. She says conducting interviews via the FaceTime feature on Apple devices or even through text messaging have become other alternative methods for job interviews. Phone interviews are another option when virtual meetings aren’t feasible.

With fewer in-person interviews, Goolsby actually is conducting more interviews overall because time isn’t being spent preparing and sanitizing interview areas in between meetings. Goolsby says virtual interviews show interviewees in their environment and can give more insight into personality traits or interests.

Goolsby is seeing a gradual move back to in-person interviews, but she says many of these COVID-19 hiring practices that have become normalized during the pandemic likely will continue post pandemic.

A hiring-practices guide from job site monster.com suggests ensuring career sites are optimized for mobile searches as more people engage in job searches using their smartphone. Monster also recommends companies have a strong social media presence to assist with brand advocacy and ensure candidates who engage on platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn, are seeing what your company has to offer and learn more about its people and culture.

With more job searches being conducted online, job descriptions should include the most common keywords and phrases a person would use in a search.

Remote onboarding has become common practice once a person is hired. Monster recommends ensuring the new hire receives a thorough welcome email and also has everything they need from the human resources department. Make sure all technology and tools are in place and ready to use day one.

Hiring challenges

More interviews don’t always translate into more people being placed with jobs. Yes, virtual platforms have increased the volume of interviews hiring managers are conducting. However, the quality of candidates and an abundance of interview no-shows has become a persistent frustration for hiring managers.

“Then it becomes a numbers game,” Goolsby says.

She had one instance where over a two-week period only 10 of 36 scheduled interviews actually took place. In many cases, applicants are ghosting their interviews and are merely checking a box indicating they are searching for a job to meet requirements to obtain unemployment insurance benefits. That means Goolsby is spending more time trying to fill positions, and some jobs are going unfilled.

She says some applicants are telling her frankly that they can make more money receiving unemployment benefits. Others, Goolsby says, have expressed concern about taking a job – particularly temporary positions – and risking getting laid off only to have to wait through the backlog to receive unemployment benefits again.

Initially, the pandemic unemployment assistance program – part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act – provided individuals who were furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19-related circumstances an extra $600 a week on top of traditional unemployment offerings. The American Rescue Plan lowered the supplement to $300 a week but extends that benefit through September.

For some individuals, that unemployment supplement has created a disincentive to go back to work or seek new employment opportunities.

Goolsby says that is particularly evident for jobs that pay less than $16 an hour. For those, it’s not uncommon for hiring managers to sift through hundreds of resumes just to find a group of a dozen or so candidates to interview. The prevalence of interview no-shows compounds that challenge. That means interviews are being set up a day in advance or the same day in some instances in hopes of reducing cancellations and no-shows.

“The biggest challenge is quality of candidates,” Goolsby says. “There are good people out there; it is just finding them through all that.”

 

About us: As the Heartland’s leading employer services company, Syndeo partners with local business owners to help them minimize risk, improve efficiency and maximize profitability allowing them the freedom to focus on growth and fulfilling their mission. Syndeo fulfills its mission by taking on all of the HR responsibilities for our clients’ workforce, including employee relations, benefits, risk management and payroll.

 Winner of the 2020 and 2021 Best of HR Services Award through ClearlyRated for providing superior client service. See our ClearlyRated profile here.

 

~Josh Heck, Marketing Manager, Syndeo