By Ryan M. Sutton, District President, Robert Half

Early in my talent recruiting career, I learned the importance of one factor in driving my success: The ability to eliminate obstacles for employers and job candidates early and often.

Two decades later, this still holds true, although we’re operating in a much different climate now. The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and job candidates’ changing requirements and expectations are just some factors that make the current hiring environment complex. Proactive recruiters have had to shift their approach to navigate these dynamics, clear more obstacles than ever before, and enable a more effective hiring process.

In short, the pandemic experience has transformed the talent recruiting process — and I do not expect to see a return to the “old ways.” Here are four changes that I’m confident are here to stay:

1. Increased reliance on video

The convenience and ease of interviewing by video cannot be overstated. The pandemic forced many of us into remote work situations and accelerated digital transformation in many companies. Even as organizations bring people back to the office — whether permanently or through a hybrid model — video interviews of job candidates continue. Why? They’ve made the hiring process considerably more efficient, particularly at the final stages.

Delays of several days or more to coordinate in-person meetings — especially at the executive level — have essentially been eliminated. The results: Hiring decisions get made more quickly, and new hires start jobs sooner, which are important considerations for firms competing for in-demand candidates.

2. More thorough front-end assessments

Recruiters must understand the motivations of the candidates we represent: Why specifically are they searching for a new role, and what are their exact requirements?

This is about much more than learning their salary and title expectations. The best candidates may need remote or flexible schedules to accommodate family responsibilities, for example. On the flip side, other job seekers may live in a crowded home without a dedicated workspace and want to work in an office.

Recruiters must know this kind of information from the outset — and stay close to candidates throughout the job search — to find and present the right opportunities.

3. Fewer snap judgments

Before the pandemic, it was relatively common for hiring managers to dismiss applicants quickly if they got the impression they were job hoppers or learned that they were currently unemployed or didn’t match all the requirements outlined in the job description.

This lack of flexibility when considering potential hires has always been a frustration for recruiters, as capable candidates may not always appear that way at first glance. Thankfully, this tide has shifted.

Savvy leaders are more open-minded and understanding of the various impacts the pandemic has had on people and their careers. There is also greater awareness now that there is no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. Withholding judgment, showing flexibility, and being willing to have conversations with various applicants give the hiring manager more options, particularly in a tight market.

4. Clearer communication

Clear and frequent communication with candidates is essential to keeping their interest in a potential role. Hiring managers need to show a high level of engagement throughout the process and clarify details from the outset, answering key questions such as:

  • What are all the steps in the selection process?
  • What’s the timeline, and how will the candidate be informed of changes?
  • What does the compensation package look like, including benefits and perks?

Today, we’re seeing a greater level of understanding and empathy in the talent recruiting process. However, some hiring managers still need the reminder that delays, demands, silence and surprises can all quash interest quickly. Candidates may pull themselves from consideration and share poor experiences on company review sites and elsewhere. So, taking the time to have a conversation with the candidate, whether the news you need to share is good or bad, is time well spent.

These four pandemic-fueled changes have improved the talent recruiting process. These practices, which were adopted out of necessity, are now enabling companies to be more efficient when hiring — giving hiring managers and candidates the ability to make informed decisions more quickly.

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