Hiring in post pandemic era – Challenges & Opportunities

With Vineet George, Director& Head Talent Acquisition, Guidehouse India

We live in an important period today in the history of IT recruiting. It’s the time of the ‘great resignation’ and the ‘great reshuffle’. Never before has been the demand for talent so high and the war for talent is real!

We talk to Vineet George, to seek answers to survive and get through the current climate. We discuss the impact of the pandemic, offer declines, virtual hiring and the future of work. Read on for some interesting insights and strategies to stem offer declines, attract talent and keep them engaged.

    1. To start off, pandemic has impacted most business processes and recruiting is one  of them. How would you summarize the changes in recruiting from your perspective?

I would say the need for transformation in HR and TA was already there, but the pace has accelerated post-pandemic. It has resulted in a paradigm shift in how hiring is done. There are several changes post-Covid-19 but the key ones are: –

● Technology – Adoption of digital technologies in the entire value chain from the preparation of a JD (unbiased/gender neutral) to sourcing, screening, scheduling, selection and finally to post-offer management and onboarding of candidates. This has really helped organizations to reduce the hiring time and at the same time give a great experience to candidates and hiring managers. Also many companies have now started using crowdsourcing platforms like Upwork, Kaggle,Toptal etc. to address the challenge of the on-demand workforce.

“Adoption of digital technologies in the entire value chain from the preparation of a JD (unbiased/gender neutral) to sourcing, screening, scheduling, selection and finally to post-offer management and onboarding of candidates”

● Employer branding – Recruiting and branding always work hand and glove. Especially in today’s highly competitive talent market, candidates have multiple options and they often consider companies that are reputed and provide them with an added advantage in their career. Promoting via different social media with great visual cues & messages is one of the best options to translate the employer brand and what it has to offer.

● Democratizing talent and location agnostic – Talent democracy centers around showing employees that they can control their career development and the available workplace opportunities. Talent career advancement depends on how they work to set goals, show initiative and be responsible to build their careers. More and more jobs are now becoming location agnostic and companies have started building platforms and work environments that support “work from anywhere” without sacrificing efficiency, productivity or quality. This has immensely helped companies to recruit the right talent at the right price.

● Rewiring the Process – To adapt to the change of virtual hiring & onboarding, companies have relooked at their hiring process to make it more agile and relevant to the current context. Process and policies have now become leaner and outcome-based compared to the past. For instance, automated hiring process with extensive algorithms to tackle both call & video interview/screening ratings, adaptive work culture policy that can attract & increase the talent pool.

“To adapt to virtual hiring & onboarding, companies have relooked at their hiring process to make it more agile”

What we have seen post-pandemic is that there is a huge demand for certain skills like digital technologies, cloud, cybersecurity, data analytics, digital marketing etc due to digitization across industries, which has resulted in a shortage of supply for these skills. But the good news is that companies have now started to have robust analytics around their workforce and potential hires. This data help in building meaningful insights, establishing a better recruitment process and candidate conversion ratio.

  2. A key challenge for recruiting teams in India has been offer declines, even before the pandemic. Looking back, what do you think about the offer decline issue post-pandemic?

To begin with, we must understand that the supply vs demand challenge had existed even before the pandemic & this has widened the gap especially in sectors like Technology, Financial Services & Life Sciences to name a few. These skills are seeing a sudden spur in demand and most candidates receive promising offers from multiple companies. So, in such a situation, companies have to bring innovative ways to tackle offer declines.

This could be done by alternative ways to increase the funnel capacity, backup resources and taking steps to increase the candidate pool. Employee re-skilling and hiring from campus should be considered. These programs can improve employee engagement & retention as well as attract top talent, boost brand and reputation. Finally, a gig model can be followed to ensure scalability of resources anytime based on the business requirement & better performance at a fraction of the cost of hiring permanent resources.

  3. Is this a lot to do with talent demand and compensation or any other reasons why candidates decline offers?

No, there are multiple factors to this especially ever since the growth of digitalization –

● Brand, Company Vision & Purpose: Most often, companies fail to retain their company brand image due to negligence & lack of internal culture. Candidates nowadays want to align their interests with that of the company and want to be a part of the company’s global mission. The brand story should be promoted on various social channels effectively, explaining the mission statement through catchy messages and visual cues.

● CVP (Candidate Value Proposition)

(A) Work Flexibility – Candidates continue to prefer jobs that provide work flexibility and work-life balance. At the very least employers must consider the possibility of hybrid workplaces that allows both in-person and remote working opportunities.

(B) Benefits – This in no way just having a good compensation package, but other world-class benefits that a company offers its candidates – excellent candidate experience, work culture, policies &work-life balance. Prospective candidates look forward to a job where they have an opportunity to be productive while being in their comfort zone.

(C) L & D: Candidates often look for what’s in it for them in the long run and hence companies can introduce a variety of learning and upskilling opportunities where the resources can advance in their career, build new skills needed for the future and grow within the company.

● Workforce planning – One of the most important and yet somehow undervalued area in many organizations is workforce planning. Effective workforce planning occurs when an organization considers both internal and external factors to determine its future staffing both mid-term & long-term needs, as well as to have an effective organizational structure. However, neglecting workforce planning can cause organizations to miss out on hiring the ‘right skill’ employees, having less productive employees, high turnover, unrealistic cost/budget and so on.
  4. How has It impacted your ‘time to hire’ and how is the business coping with that?

Each decline results in resetting the entire recruiting cycle and it can adversely affect the ‘time to hire” aspect. Yes, declines will consume additional time. However practically we identify buffer offers for those roles that we believe tend to have a higher offer dropout rate. Although this may not be the ideal solution, with the appropriate technology there are possibilities to work around and ensure we consistently engage with the employee & retain their interests. Another way is to have internal reskilling and upskilling, so that organizations can create a larger pool of readily available resources than focus only on the candidate with the niche skill, saving the business time and cost.

  5. What strategies have you planned to tackle offer drops? What are the ones that have worked so far?

While candidates are spoilt for choices today, it is important that we help them arrive at the right decision. The right decision need not always mean that they join your firm. The combination of the short term and long terms goals of the aspirant helps make the right choice. It is also important to have a ‘no surprise’ attitude when explaining the job role, work culture and ethics so that anyone joining or contemplating joining does not feel that he/ she is hearing something which does not resonate with what he/she was told during the hiring process.

 6. Do you think technology can come to the rescue?

Technology has definitely played its part in some of the areas of retaining the interest levels of the candidates. It has application in terms of RPA in improving & automating some of the traditional processes that were in place earlier. Also recruiting CRMs like Hyreo can help the hiring teams to be more productive and at the same time provide a deep level of candidate engagement and predict outcomes. Finally, technology has also allowed to bring new sophisticated tools and techniques to effortlessly reduce the hiring time cycle collectively on different stages of recruitment.

“Recruiting CRMs like Hyreo can help the hiring teams to be more productive and at the same time provide a deep level of candidate engagement.”

  7. ‘Recruitment marketing’ & ‘Employer branding’ are buzz words right now. What are some of the ways you are promoting your employer brand?

One of the prominent initiatives is to make use of the “Big Four” social media platforms & provide a unique employer brand voice to the prospective candidates. With the number of applicants using social media increasing these days, it’s highly important that companies take advantage of using these media to engage with the current/future talent, build the brand, trust and credibility in the market to have a good funnel to meet the current and future demand.

“Engage with passive candidates for the future demand”

Having a strong CVP for the candidates as mentioned earlier is another way to provide a competitive advantage as well as advocacy. What we have seen is that when employees are well benefited internally, they act as the brand ambassadors and take the opportunity to self-market the employer and its brand to the outside audience. This coupled with great social media campaigns as mentioned earlier can highly accelerate the outreach to prospective candidates.

Finally, D&I in the present context has become one of the key pillars for most organizations, as it allows them to be attractive to vast groups of applicants, promote diverse company culture and innovation, all of which provides a holistic inclusion of the talent.

“D&I in the present context has become one of the key pillars for most organizations”

  8. How about innovative HR processes and policies – Gig model, 4 day work week, tapping new talent pools or permanent WFH – Will this help in the current scenario?

In the current scenario, companies need to agree to the fact that one size doesn’t fit all. Following one process or policy alone cannot attend to the needs and expectations of all the employees. Hence as employers, they need to follow a hybrid model to ensure that they are able to bring in top talent for different requirements. To have a successful hybrid model of work, it is of utmost importance that the employers spend enough time identifying the right balance of all the processes& policies, gain proper clarity on how the hybrid model will run and incorporate company culture & inclusion.
  9. High decline rates mean hiring more recruiters to keep up the volume. But, how are you dealing with the dearth of great recruiter talent in the industry?

Like in any industry, due to the pandemic there has been a lot of surge indemand for talented recruiters and it continues to be a challenge to hire great talent in recruiting. Nevertheless, there is hope as companies now use various technologies through which they gain major advancements in sourcing/screening and some of the other low-end jobs in recruiting. This allows the hiring process to be much more efficient and reduces the requirement for an additional hire, and most importantly it allows the recruiters to spend more quality time with the candidates and hiring managers to create better candidate and hiring manager experience.
  10. What is your virtual hiring experience/process like? Post pandemic, what new tools have you adopted for hiring?

The current process of recruitment is fully virtual including all the candidate screenings and interview processes. Even before the pandemic, we were into virtual mode of hiring, however, the pandemic has allowed for an even more accelerated move to a completely virtual model. This is because of the fair share of reliability factor present, including the amount of flexibility it provides and the fact that all the recruitment processes can be completed efficiently with the least path of resistance.

  11. Where do you think we are heading from here, what is your take on the future of recruitment?

The future of recruitment will continue to be in a war fought for good talent. As the demand for the best skills keeps increasing day after day, companies of the future will be forced to take drastic measures to be competitive in the market. The recruitment process will keep evolving and newer recruitment functions with strong core fundamentals & technology combinations will be highly adopted. Computerization of database processes, competency framework, AI-powered skill evaluation are some such examples that are going to take all over globally.

“The future of recruitment will continue to be in a war fought for good talent. As the demand for the best skills keeps increasing day after day, companies of the future will be forced to take drastic measures to be competitive in the market”

At the same time, talent Acquisition will have to be more flexible and aggressive as there could be constant changes in hiring plans. They will be more thoughtful on how their activities will impact the business by tracking some of the most useful metrics such as quality of hire, sourcing channel effectiveness & time to hire to name a few. And as discussed previously, TA will be more focused on reaching out to its passive audience in the market, analyzing the market trend and talent data and advising the business leaders on implementing effective strategies.

Finally, Gen Z talent pool will be a prime hiring ground for various companies as these workforces are adaptable and nimble for the right job. Hence companies are expected to spend more time and money into identifying the key areas in attracting these candidates, retaining their interests and convert them to actual hires.

Hyreo aims at providing ‘customer-like’ candidate experiences. Designed for modern millennial and Gen-Z candidates, Hyreo’s solution helps you provide 24X7 candidate support, automate candidate engagement, understand candidate pulse and predict their propensity to join. Some of the biggest names in IT saw 10% reduction in offer decline rate after using Hyreo. Get a demo.

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed by the Vineet are personal and may not reflect Vineet’s employer or organization view point on the subject. The intent is purely to collate information, best practices and share with the human resource community.

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