Speed is King: Hiring During COVID-19

Speed of process: Despite higher volumes, great candidates will still not last long in the market. It’s important not to fall into the trap of an inflexible, linear recruitment process, as this could lead to people losing interest and you missing out on the best talent. Check for internal applications, search existing internal and external databases,…

Speed is King: Hiring During COVID-19

Speed of process: Despite higher volumes, great candidates will still not last long in the market. Its important not to fall into the trap of an inflexible, linear recruitment process, as this could lead to people losing interest and you missing out on the best talent.

Check for internal applications, search existing internal and external databases, place ads on job boards and social media, screen applications, contact applicants for first interviews, conduct interviews, shortlist applications, repeat interview process, make an offer, negotiate, arrange start dates, onboard and train… simple really!

At some level, we are all conditioned to “follow the process,” and rightly so. Processes are in place to ensure we don’t miss a step, particularly in recruitment, where there are requirements to protect information, ensure our brands are not compromised by poor communications and our legal obligations are covered.

But nothing works better in recruitment than speed, regardless of whether there few candidates or plenty of them. Whenever we find a “good” candidate (someone who has the skills to fulfil the criteria, a strong employment record and will fit the culture), speed is very important.

The issues many companies face when unemployment increases are the increased volume of candidate applications and the decreased recruitment resources:

  • Volume: in higher unemployment markets, the number of applications received increases, as we have already seen over the last few weeks. In some cases, we are seeing over 1000% increases in ad responses, which means a lot of time and effort is required to review these applications.
  • Resources: At the same time, many organisations will not retain their internal recruitment teams or recruiters, and the task of recruitment typically falls back on the relevant line managers who are pushed for time anyway.

The speed issue comes about when a linear, process-driven approach is taken. For example, you allow two weeks for applications, and then want to check all of them before deciding who to get in touch with. 

This is an outdated approach that was devised in the days of paper advertising, printed resumes and applications received via letters (yes all that really did happen!). Back then, the linear approach worked very well because the timeframes were greater and there was less expectation on the part of the applicant that they would be contacted immediately.

Let’s also remember a simple but very important fact: In the days of printed resumes and letters (I am talking the early 90’s) when we last saw high unemployment, it cost the applicant to apply. Remember, we didn’t have computers, printers and email!

When applying for a job, applicants would typically pay:

  • Approx. $130-150 to get a resume prepared and typed
  • $2-3 for each page that was photocopied (usually 3-4 pages with a cover letter)
  • 20c for a stamp, 10c for an envelope

So, roughly, it was costing an applicant about $10 to apply to an ad, not including the initial cost of preparing the resume. This simple but important factor was a significant contributor to reducing the number of applications. These days, it essentially costs nothing to apply to an ad, which is one of the reasons we see so many “unqualified” applications.

2020 will be the first time we have had high unemployment since the early ‘90s and we are going to see greater volumes of responses than ever before.

If you are a line manager and you are advertising a role, it is great to see a strong response to your ad, but don’t wait until all responses have come in before you move to the next step. Check your responses at least four times each day and when you get a promising candidate, contact them immediately. Otherwise, they will be moving on, and you stand a strong chance of not securing them.

My advice is: Throw out the old linear recruitment process – in today’s market, it won’t work.   

If you missed the first article in this series where I introduced the ten key challenges employers will face in a high unemployment environment, click here to read it , and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Pete Davis is Managing Director of Frontline Recruitment Group (FRG). FRG is a specialist recruitment company with offices across Australia and New Zealand – they have been operating since the early 1990s and have worked in high unemployment environments with job hunters in many different industries. This blog series is about sharing some of the lessons from the past and integrating them with the technology and business practices of today. We hope you enjoy these articles and welcome your opinions.