Hiring in the new normal – it’s just like dating

We are in a time of flux. Employers around the world are dealing with the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic. Some are thriving, others are struggling, and there will be winners and losers, but there are certain constants in being a successful company. Hiring and retaining the right talent is a crucial thing all good organisations do well – that is why they are good (indeed, awesome!). Even in times of turmoil, good companies find a way to succeed – mainly down to the fact they have talented people who can adapt. Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, said: “Bad companies are destroyed by crises; good companies survive them; great companies are improved by them”.

Many aspects of our lives are changing, work and social experiences have also changed dramatically, and the future of work is a central topic for employers and employees alike. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation reported permanent vacancies fell at their sharpest rate on record in April, but several sectors bucked that trend. Supermarkets we know of, but other sectors hiring during the crisis include technology, banking, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and logistics.  

Those organisations continuing to recruit have faced several logistical challenges. HR, L&D and Talent Acquisition teams are operating remotely so need to coordinate all people programmes virtually. Figures across industries suggest that over 80% are virtually hiring and using new technology to onboard employees. The pandemic has helped to drive innovation and force a rethink on hiring and development of staff.

7 tips to becoming great at hiring 

So how do you become great at hiring? Easy really – you treat hiring like you are going on a date and we don’t mean serial dating, we mean looking for love dating. 

1 – Treat your job descriptions like how you are going to dress on a date.

Not many of us would turn up to a date without putting thought into how we present ourselves; our hair, clothes, shoes, and personal hygiene. These will all be judged straight away. So does your job description look like it just rolled out of bed and turned up? JD’s, like first dates, are all about making a good first impression. 

Great companies create accurate job reflections and a focus on the applicant so that they can make a decision. We all have wish lists, but are you seriously expecting Angelina or Brad to turn up to your date just because they are your ideal? So be honest and be clear between Line managers and Talent teams what is a true reflection of the right person, not a perfect person.

At the end of May 2008 there were 736,000 live roles in the UK, there are now 326,000 and rising. There are a lot of daters out there so your profile matters.

2 – Where are you going to post your job?  

Where your job gets shown is as important as the quality of the job description. Think date location. If you are trying to make a good impression, are you just wandering to the local boozer or are you putting a bit more effort into it? If no effort or planning is going into how you position a role on jobs sites, your website, social media, Linkedin, via your recruiters, then you are going to get an equally ad-hoc response. Remember you are looking for love, so coming across as thoughtless is not an attractive trait to most of us.

61% of candidates want to know the salary, 49% want to know the qualifications needed, 49% want to know details of the role. So place the job in the right way and right place. Don’t be offended, only 23% are interested in the company details at this stage, but we are in the early stages of dating. 

3 – Find the best applicants  

Mr or Mrs right is out there but will it be self-evident or are you doing the equivalent of a lazy swipe left or right while looking at CVs? Create an application process that engages and interests’ people. Your role needs to stand out and the evaluation process should be based on more than a look a CV followed by an interview. Have you thought about how you understand the candidate’s drivers, attitude, skills and behaviours through the application process? 

So why not let assessments do the main work? For this reason, pre-employment assessments can play an even more crucial role in evaluating your candidates’ skills and abilities from afar. Assessments are significantly more predictive of job performance than interviews or even job experience. Beyond this, look at ways of assessing, Cognitive aptitude and qualities like emotional intelligence and conscientiousness are also beneficial for identifying candidates who can successfully work with their teams remotely. The best part about assessments? Candidates have been taking them remotely for years.

The amount of time employers spend on interviews has almost doubled since 2009, according to research from Glassdoor, in particular for companies with no strategy. Want to get creative – look at Google and Marriott hotels for their gamification approach to hiring.

4 – Meeting for the first time

Like any good date, engaging conversation is critical. Imagine sitting there when someone whips out a list of pre-prepared questions and interrogates you. Rather than feeling a natural build of connection, it feels prescribed and doesn’t reflect any personality. Try to achieve a natural conversational approach in interviews. 

Be topical. There will be questions people have about Covid, like what’s the financial position of the company, what’s your work from home policy, what technology do you use and what is your sickness policy regarding Covid. These are valid and important, so be prepared for them. Have definite answers for topical questions like working from home arrangements.  

Similarly, have a clear expectation for a virtual meeting – this will probably be the reality under the current circumstances, and remember not to be too harsh on applicants who have kids running into a room – a factor of Covid life regardless of trying to lock them out! 

Virtual engagement in whatever form is here to stay so ensure you are trained and embrace the new format. Zoom has done 300 million virtual meetings in 2020, and MS teams users grew from 32M in March to over 75M now. This is now an embedded way in our new digital world.

5 – Agreeing on next steps 

“it was lovely to meet you, see you soon”. Now, what is this statement telling us? Have you ever been on a date and swapped numbers never to see them again, or you walk away thinking that went great and they did say they would see you again, yet the cold shroud of silence descends? We seem to be unable to tell the truth in these situations, but you need to. It is unfair to leave someone hanging when you know they are not good enough. 

According to a Careerbuilder survey last year, 75% of candidates never heard back from their interview. That is shocking and arrogant on behalf of any company. Agree within your company the standards you expect for feedback and ensure it is delivered. Bad news travels and you will be impacted by it. 

Also, remember, approximately 70% of potential applicants look at reviews on companies before accepting an interview. In this digital age, everyone has a voice and it is multiplied when they are passing on bad experience, service, or lack of effort.

6 – But let’s say the date went extremely well

You got on, you have assessed one another, you are a meeting of minds and ambitions and you want to make an offer to the successful candidate. Then you throw away all the good work by allowing weeks to pass by before getting the information out. 

Remember, just because you have made the offer, it does not mean the candidate is not still actively looking. The more delay you have the more it reinforces a lack of agility, interest, and engagement from a candidate’s perspective. So, if you are going to offer – offer the value of that person to you not what they have been earning. Why not be crazy and ring them to go through the offer with them. Make them feel they are the one for you. 

According to Quora the average time it takes from offer to offer letter is one week. Interestingly there is no benchmark, so what is yours? Imagine waiting for the arrangement of another date, oh the excitement, but it takes over a week to hear. How would you feel by this time?

7 – You’ve agreed to go steady

You have agreed to be loyal to one another and the applicant is starting. Yey! Now the hard work begins. Time to put in the extra effort in your presentation – Impress your new hire. They will be seeing your location, your colleagues and your tech. Did they feel the centre of your universe until the agreed start date and now feel that they are at a party with your friends standing in the corner seething that the beer is warm and Coldplay is playing? 

And we have to factor in the virtual onboarding process. Have you adjusted your business as usual HR onboarding process to account for virtual delivery? The post Coronoavirus new normal has various implications for onboarding new starters. By having a robust process in place, you are alleviating any health concerns and showing what a great employer you are!

Around 33% of all employees leave in their first 90 days. The main reasons for this are; poorly Structured Onboarding, unclear expectations and no clear training or development. If you want to go steady, then get these things right and maintain a happy and engaging relationship. 

As with dating, talent acquisition can be challenging, but if done right is very rewarding. In these times of change, awesome companies are agile and innovative in their hiring approach. If you want your happy-ever-after from your hiring, then review the current recruitment processes, ensuring you have the right technology, people and a plan that is aligned with the challenges of finding great people in the new normal. By not having this focus on finding the right talent for your company, you could be heading towards sitting on your sofa watching a sad movie eating ice-cream, lamenting the one that got away?


We will be looking at What Makes An Awesome Employer? The Changing Face of Talent Acquisition in our next webinar. Join us and a panel of experts by registering.