- user Richard Malpeli
Today, we are examining the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global recruitment agency landscape. Specifically, we are going to take a close look at some new recruiting practices. After pandemic measures such as nationwide lockdowns were rescinded, a few new practices were slowly introduced, practices that have persisted to this day because they reflect the new reality of the post-pandemic employment market across the world. For agencies that wish to succeed in the most competitive areas of recruitment, it is essential to become familiar with new practices such as those that have arisen in the wake of the global pandemic and to adopt any relevant ones as soon as it is practical to do so. It is with this thought in mind that we begin our examination of the effects of COVID-19 on our industry.
The Immediate Effects of COVID-19: Setting the Scene for Change
Before we examine the persistent changes that the pandemic triggered in the recruitment industry, let’s briefly remind ourselves of the very powerful and very immediate effects that were felt in developed nations all around the world as the pandemic spread.
- Negative Effects - The initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global recruitment activities were almost entirely negative, with many industries implementing hiring freezes if not actively laying off staff. The travel, hospitality and entertainment industries bore the brunt of the first shockwave, with associated industries beginning to feel the pain as time wore on. Eventually, the general malaise spread across most industries, with a few notable exceptions.
- Positive Effects – When we talk about the positive effects of COVID-19 on specific industries, we are, of course, talking in terms of recruitment activity alone. Nobody, for example, thought that the added demand for healthcare services was a genuine benefit to the global economy but it did generate more activity among medical recruitment agencies, which made it a net positive for this industry in business terms. Among other market sectors that performed strongly throughout the pandemic were development companies responsible for online meeting software such as Zoom. As working remotely from home became the new normal, the demand for this type of software grew exponentially. The pharmaceutical industry was naturally extremely busy during the pandemic, as were grocery stores, tech support providers and all manner of online retailers.
It is probably fair to say that few if any, useful new recruitment practices were adopted during the first chaotic days of the pandemic, but as time wore on and signs of recovery were observed in many of the hardest-hit sectors, more agile agencies began to formulate new strategies and methodologies in order to meet the changing requirements of their biggest customers. Among the strategies that were implemented were two that have persisted well into 2023: virtual interviewing and location-independent talent pools.
The Most Important New Recruiting Practices After the Pandemic
Virtual interviews and location-independent talent pools are two good examples of new recruiting practices after the pandemic that have become vital weapons in the arsenals of many prominent recruitment agencies. They are great illustrations of how the changing needs of commercial organisations have driven several changes in the post-pandemic recruitment industry as a whole.
- Virtual Interviewing – One of the first casualties of the pandemic, as far as conventional recruitment practices are concerned, was the face-to-face interview. Human resources experts who prided themselves on their ability to assess a candidate from the visual clues they offer at interview were suddenly left feeling impotent. However, many quickly adapted to a new interviewing paradigm: online video calls. They found their talents were just as useful when employed in a virtual interview setting.
- Location-Independent Talent Pools – The first new practice of virtual interviewing, in combination with the new trend of remote working, led directly to the introduction of global talent pools. The rapid rise of virtual interviewing methods and practices made it possible for agencies to evaluate candidates from all over the world, with consummate ease. The fact so many companies were now willing to accept remote workers in large numbers made location-independent talent pools a very natural progression.
In addition to practices that cater to employers, we have also witnessed new recruiting practices developed specifically to cater to the types of employees we are seeing in the post-COVID-19 world. Thanks to a major shift in the priorities of job seekers in the last couple of years, we’re now seeing more and more people looking for positions that offer a better work/life balance than their pre-pandemic careers. At the same time, numerous others are expressing an intention to look for more mentally and spiritually satisfying employment: jobs that offer more than just financial rewards.
- Helping Candidates Achieve a Better Work/Life Balance – Working from home created new challenges for employees as they found it even more difficult than usual to keep their professional and personal lives separate and to pay equal attention to both. As a reaction against the perceived new stresses to which they were exposed, many employees expressed a desire to apply for new positions that allowed them to spend more time with their families. Some agencies have already started to help workers achieve this specific goal and have attracted more attention from job seekers as a result.
- Helping Candidates to Find More Meaningful Employment – Forward-thinking recruitment agencies have begun to highlight employers they consider to be more responsible or eco-friendly than others. However, much of the burden of catering to this specific change in employees’ priorities must be carried by employers themselves. Companies need to make more effort to differentiate themselves from their competitors, in terms of what they have to offer as a prospective employer. Many workers are no longer willing to settle for a job that doesn’t jibe with their core beliefs and are consequently looking for a new type of employer.
By adopting the above recruiting practices where possible, recruitment agencies that are currently lagging behind will be able to catch up to their competitors in a relatively short period of time.