As COVID-19 continues to sweep the nation and the world, businesses are looking for ways to stay productive in the face of unprecedented challenges. Managing staff procedures, increasing or decreasing headcount, and maintaining workloads has become a remote process for many businesses as they look to protect their workers, their customers and the public.

The pandemic has shifted a major sector of the workforce in ways we hadn’t anticipated. For organizations that are able, CDC-recommended social distancing measures have made remote work the new norm. Staff members are transforming living rooms into workspaces, often simultaneously managing children and personal obligations. Businesses are facing difficult decisions about how to adapt and survive this seismic shift, and hiring practices have changed overnight.

Recruiting trends in the wake of COVID-19

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While some industries are being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, like brick and mortar retailers, others are ramping up hiring to meet demand. Healthcare providers may be the largest sectors looking to increase staffing levels as systems prepare for worst-case scenarios already being seen or anticipated. 

And as Americans turn to online shopping to reduce virus exposure, delivery drivers, warehousing and distribution are also hiring at scale.

Essential retailers who remain open during the pandemic, like big box stores, grocers, pharmacies and chains are hiring at scale to meet demand. In addition to maintaining staffing levels, many are rapidly increasing headcount to allow for more downtime or flexible schedules for staff members. 

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The travel, restaurant and hospitality industries are among the most hard-hit by the virus. From international hotel and restaurant chains, to airlines and the local family-run restaurant, the pandemic is forcing layoffs around the world.

Some restaurants are learning to pivot quickly, with curb service and delivery options keeping them marginally afloat during the outbreak.  For these companies, assessing which staff members are essential or can be moved into new roles will be key.

For the hotel industry, the effects of COVID-19 may be far reaching and long-term. Some industry leaders predict that for those hotels that manage to stay open, five years will be needed to fully recover. Some suggest that half the airline industry may be wiped out by the outbreak. The ripple effect of retractions in travel are impacting a host of other businesses, from huge conglomerates like Boeing to small manufacturing and service organizations that provide supplies and service in airports and beyond.

Bars and entertainment venues are also seeing a huge impact because of the virus. Considered non-essential, most have shuttered their doors during the outbreak. For some who served food, pickup may be an option, but for many, businesses are closed — and highly-vulnerable tipped workers are feeling the crunch. Many of these may be looking to mass virtual hiring events to substitute income during the outbreak.

What’s different about recruiting now that COVID-19 is here?

For organizations looking to hire, reliable technology is already available to help. Virtual recruitment is a go-to method to keep hiring processes moving while protecting recruiters and candidates. 

The change may be uncomfortable at first, but talent acquisition professionals are up for the task. Initial phone screenings remain the same, but the face-to-face interview has moved online. To speed up time-to-hire, many companies are offering candidates the option of video interviewing as soon as possible. While some are waiting until an in-person interview is possible, many fear losing candidates to a competitor during the wait.

Video interviewing software not only makes it possible to keep the hiring pipeline moving, but it also upgrades the candidate experience and boosts your employer brand. Job seekers recognize  that when organizations put safety protocols in place, they’re putting their employees first. Whether pre-recorded or live, virtual interviews are highly interactive. Recruitment professionals can assess gestures, expressions, engagement and body language as easily online as in person, as can candidates. The handshake, which may become a thing of the past, may be the only loss in the process.

Technology that’s reliable is key: recruitment professionals new to video interviewing platforms should keep best practices in mind, and test the software before their first meeting with a job seeker.

Guidelines for video interviewing:

  • Be as professional as you would be a normal interview. Be prepared with job requirements, and know the candidate’s resume and background. Just as you’d send an intro email with directions to the office and parking instructions, send details on how to access and best prepare for the video interview. Don’t assume that sending a link is sufficient.
  • Remember time zones. Assure the invitation to the interview is adjusted for any differences for areas of the country or the world.
  • Presentation is key. Make sure you’re prepared for the video interview  by dressing the part, choosing a good background and eliminating distractions from your surroundings.

Virtual recruiting is the new normal

As business moves to online interviews, they reap many benefits beyond safety for their recruiters and job seekers — and this may be the kick many companies needed to augment their existing strategies with a virtual component.

Gen Z job seekers appreciate tech savvy organizations. Recent data suggests they will not even apply for a job with an organization if they think its recruitment methods are outdated. Businesses looking for top talent, even during this pandemic, will need to assure their brand messages cutting edge technology. 

Video recruitment is a must-have for companies even in optimal hiring conditions. Individual recruiters and teams leverage the ability to interview essentially on-demand, without juggling interview scheduling. And those who are already using recruitment technology are more likely to speed up time-to-hire —pandemic or not.

Other workplace shifts that may become long-term

Remote work

Remote work may have been on employee wish-lists long before COVID-19, but many organizations are finding the option not only workable, but beneficial. As the virus diminishes, some suggest a permanent shift toward working from home may be in the cards. Recent data shows 60% of workers are confident they can perform their job efficiently remotely, even indefinitely.

Employee rights

A new appreciation for workers may also be emerging: as the government mandates paid sick and family leave during the outbreak, many companies are shifting their focus to hourly workers, formerly excluded from such perks. State and local governments have been developing sick leave insurance and coverage for hourly workers; the virus may accelerate spread of these laws and policies. This change may become permanent, as organizations work hard to hire new staff and increase retention rates in the face of completion once Americans get fully back to work.As business continues to meet demand and maintain productivity during these difficult times, there are many resources available to help navigate the changes COVID-19 is requiring. Companies will need to leverage every option available to keep their workforce, their partners and their customers as safe as possible.