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Recruitment in a time of COVID-19: How the pandemic has changed hiring forever

We spoke to our superstar Nudge recruiters to talk about what trends they’re seeing emerge in the market, as well as a few tips for companies and clients for a smoother recruitment process.

by hao-nguyen on October 25, 2021

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the way companies hire and onboard new employees.  

With the acceleration to remote work, increased flexible working from home arrangements and more sophisticated digital interviewing and onboarding procedures now available (and also expected), companies have had to adapt quickly.  

Adding to that, we’re also seeing a huge talent shortage, especially in the tech industry. As mentioned in our previous article – 4 Reasons Why 2021 is the Year to Change Jobs – by May of this year, the total number of job vacancies in Australia had reached 362,500, a 23% increase from February 2021 alone. 

Between May and July, there were an average of 953,000 job vacancies in the United Kingdom, around 600 thousand more than the same period the year before, and Singapore’s job vacancies had climbed to 67,000 in the first quarter of 2021, up from 55,100 at the end of 2020.     

At The Nudge Group, we spend a lot of time advising our clients, as well as guiding candidates on how to navigate this constantly evolving job market. We spoke to our superstar Nudge recruiters to discuss what trends they’re seeing emerge in the market, as well as a few tips for companies and clients for a smoother recruitment process.  

Michael Dackombe, Director – Sales, Corporate & HR

The biggest thing I’m seeing is that companies are becoming a lot more flexible on locations in Australia, especially as video conferencing technology has become the new norm. This means that other companies, who aren’t already set up for remote work, have to keep up and roll out their own flexible work arrangements.  

Leaders and managers have also had to up-skill when it comes to managing remote teams. They need to understand that remote work preference is different for everyone – working from home at all times doesn’t suit everyone. The main thing is that people just want the freedom to manage their time in their own way. 

On the candidate front, hiring managers need to be more creative with their wish list of skills. It’s a candidate market, not an employer market right now so they need to think outside the box to hire the best talent. Of course, that’s something that we help them with.  

Dayna Stewart, Director – Digital Marketing, Media & Creative Services

I’m seeing candidates become more creative with their applications. Currently it’s a candidate-driven market, but the way in which candidates apply for a role has changed. Rather than just sending a generic, text-heavy resume, they are trying to stand-out with an increase in online CVs and short video or YouTube introductions. It’s really personalising the application process. 

I also feel that the pandemic has made people a lot more empathetic, and it really has brought us all together. We are all going through the same pandemic, the same day to day stresses, so interviews seem to be a lot more personal and genuine in terms of asking how people are coping, how they felt, if they had support, etc., rather than hitting them hard with questions straight up; like “tell me why I should employ you.”

It was nice to see the genuine care for one another and it also highlights the cultural alignment between company and candidate. 

Carlie Bowden, Director – Product & Project Services

The main trend that I’ve seen emerge since the COVID pandemic is that the speed required by clients to compete with other opportunities has increased significantly. With AV platforms enabling interviews to be conducted easily online, candidates and clients are able to move faster and speed up the recruitment process. This means any company who is taking too long to get back to candidates is going to miss out on great talent.  

Also, with some organisations moving back to an office-based set up, candidates who have become accustomed to remote work are now on the market for companies who have more flexible working arrangements. The lesson here for companies is either adapt to the market by offering remote work, or risk losing talent.  

Steve Grace, Founder & CEO

One of the biggest differences in hiring decisions is that companies are less likely to hire junior staff. This may be because the transfer of knowledge happens predominantly in the office, and the reliance on trusting employees to work effectively from home has swung many companies into wanting more experienced candidates. 

Another thing, with virtual interviews being so easy and the new norm, this has created other issues. Before virtual interviews, only candidates who were really serious about a role would make the effort to meet face-to-face to discuss the job in detail. Now, it’s all too easy to have an interview with a recruiter when you’re simply window shopping as a candidate. While this has been good in terms of having access to more candidates, we’re finding that we also waste a lot of time meeting people who aren’t serious about job hunting.  

I also believe that with virtual interviews, we’ve lost the ability to judge people’s body language. In a face-to-face meeting, a lot of small things that we would normally pick up on are lost; humans are masters of reading each other, which has been mostly lost since the pandemic. 

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