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Grow Your Business Your Team

How to Hire New Employees During the Coronavirus Outbreak

image for fizkes / Getty Images
fizkes / Getty Images
  • Only 16% of HR professionals report feeling prepared to go fully virtual with hiring practices.
  • To kickstart your recruiting process, make sure people know you are hiring. Ask your employees to spread the word on social media.
  • Recruiting new employees remotely is challenging, but companies should develop plans, prioritize remote working skills and consider passive recruitment strategies.

If your company is hiring, the process may look a little different now from what you are used to, with in-person interviews or conversations needing to shift to video chat. You will also need to adapt your recruiting practices to keep your candidate pipeline full. This guide will provide you with five strategies you can implement now to help your business effectively recruit, hire and onboard new employees as a remote team, which will help your company continue to recruit top talent that can fill your staffing needs.

A new study by Doodle revealed that only 16% of HR professionals in the United States said they were prepared to go fully virtual with their recruitment and onboarding programs. The study also found that remote meeting tools tend to be low-priority items in HR budgets despite the surge in remote meetings, that new employees who were onboarded virtually had a hard time feeling like part of the team, and that HR managers struggled with employee engagement and effectively integrating them into the corporate culture.

The future of business and the hiring process as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain, so small businesses will need to be flexible and adjust their usual practices until face-to-face business is again possible. Here are five steps you can take now to adapt your hiring practices.

Many qualified candidates who were looking for jobs before the pandemic hit may assume that most companies are not hiring during the crisis, so you must make it well known that your company is actively seeking new employees.

"Companies need to first let the public know that they are still open, still hiring and moving forward," said Chris Vennitti, mid-Atlantic president at Addison Group. "The available candidate pool will gravitate towards those firms active in outreach."

Make sure all of your current job postings are listed on your company's website, and call attention to your open positions on social media and your other marketing avenues to help find the right candidate.

"Companies should refresh and cleanse their job postings online – new postings will get the most traction, and ones posted even a month ago will be viewed as potentially not relevant anymore," said Vennitti.

You can also draw upon your current employees to help get the word out by leveraging their own social media, said Clair Kim, CEO at Clairly Creative. "Encourage your company staff to share the job posting on their social media. The more shares, the bigger the reach. Bonus points for any company staff that can share why they love working for that company within the job opening post!" [Read related article: How to Find Good Employees]

If you are hiring during the coronavirus pandemic, you need a detailed and well-thought-out procedure or recruitment plan in place before you begin the process. Hiring completely remotely will be a very different experience from hiring in person, and it is your responsibility to the company and to potential employees to make sure you have a process that will work.

"Make certain you have a system in place to test out your technologies ahead of time, and ask the interviewer to do the same," said coach and realtor Chantay Bridges. "Anything you can do ahead of time to make sure everything goes smoothly is a good start."

Much of the preparation for hiring a new employee will be the same as if you were hiring in person. You will compile a list of candidates, narrow them down and choose which ones you will interview.

When you extend the invitation for a video interview, make sure you detail exactly how the process will go and what the candidate should expect.

  • Include all necessary information, such as time, date and who will call whom.
  • Provide a link to the video meeting.
  • Tell them whether this position is permanently or temporarily remote.

"Remote recruitment has to involve giving plenty of information to prospective candidates and ensuring you're vetting the applications that come in," said Jennifer Walden, director of operations at Wikilawn. "There's bound to be a sea of them. Set strict standards for what you want in an applicant, make those clear on the job posting, and cut anyone who doesn't meet them. It's crucial to being able to go through this process remotely."

It is a very uncertain time for businesses and employees alike, so when you are hiring, be sure that your company can support a new employee with no reservations or modifications.

"When you're hiring during a crisis, I think you need to be very conscious of what you can offer," said Walden. "Make sure it's going to be a long, permanent position – to the best of your knowledge – complete with competitive pay and benefits."

If you think or know that circumstances will change after the crisis has passed, such as the employee shifting to in-office work, lay all of that out when you give the job offer.

"Whether it is a permanent position or temporary, ensure that the new hire and the company are on the same page," said Kim. "Things are different now and will be different after the crisis. Company leaders must have clear plans."

Because many Americans are working remotely indefinitely, it is in your company's best interest to place a special focus on skills for remote work when you are hiring. Effective communication, organization, conscientiousness and self-direction are all useful skills in remote work.

While your company may not be fully remote forever, specifically seeking these skills in job candidates can make their transition into your company easier and increase their initial productivity, since there may be less of a learning curve to adjust to remote work.

You may also consider making certain roles that you are hiring for completely remote.

"Remote hiring allows organizations to access more candidates than ever in the comfort of their own homes," said Kim. "Many companies that are hiring during coronavirus are hiring specifically remote or freelance positions." [Read related article: Communication Technology and Inclusion Will Shape the Future of Remote Work]

Many companies have pools of candidates who have previously submitted applications and may be seeking a job during the crisis. If you'd like to avoid an active recruiting campaign, you can shift your focus to this existing pool of candidates and hire from there.

"We're focusing more on passive candidates – i.e., existing candidates, potential candidates we've been keeping an eye on, unsolicited applications," said Kim. "Optimizing an existing talent pool [gives companies something] they can tap into as they are executing their crisis exit strategy."

Kim said that this approach can give companies the space and time to recruit the right employees who will go full force on new initiatives once the crisis has passed and businesses have resumed their normal activities.

Kiely Kuligowski

Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and is now embracing her hipster side as a new resident of Brooklyn. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.