As companies navigate the new normal future of work in these unprecedented times, many things keep recruiters up at night. After a year of living under pandemic conditions compounded by increased social unrest and drastic economic measures, the truth is, no one knows what’s going to happen next – especially when it comes to hiring.

It’s clear that the talent acquisition landscape is changing, maybe even faster than ever before, as companies strive to keep up.  

Of course, with all of the change comes the questions. Questions from candidates. Questions from employers. Questions from recruiters themselves.

Perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s mind is about remote working.

Candidates want to know, “Is this job remote forever?” Employers want to know, “How soon can we reopen the office?” Recruiters want to know, “What do I tell both sides about the other?”

Everyone is trying to find the right answer, one that satisfies the need to know without seeming misinformed.

 

What’s Different

In the before times, the ability to work remotely was a perk more than anything else. Companies debated the merits, concerned about the impact on productivity and culture. With no pressing need to embrace remote work, it remained only a possibility – until it wasn’t.

The events of 2020 into 2021 tested and broke that “way we’ve always done it” dynamic.

Research from Indeed underscores the importance of this particular narrative, finding that searches for remote work jobs doubled from February to March 2020, a trend that’s continued in the months since.

Having achieved this critical mass, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a complete reversal, even after the pandemic subsides. As a result, we will be dealing with a hybrid work environment, wherein some workers stay fully remote, others partially remote, and the rest on-premises.

For recruiters, the likelihood of hybrid arrangements becoming a reality leads to more questions, this time about the talent acquisition process itself.

 

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What’s Next

Companies like Salesforce have already solved this by establishing set options for their workforce. In turn, recruiting teams have answers on-hand, with Salesforce expressly stating, “Our talent strategy is no longer bound by barriers like location, so we can broaden our search beyond traditional city centers and welcome untapped talent from new communities and geographies.”

The company explained this, saying that the world is different now and workers “need flexibility to be successful.” The subtext of this? To survive, companies need to attract the best talent. That was the case before the pandemic, and it remains the case now.

So how do we accomplish that under present circumstances? As Jan Tegze, author of Full Stack Recruiter, wrote, “The future is not fully remote, and it is not even hybrid; the future is flexible.”

That means, even if the answer to “Is this job remote forever?” isn’t readily available, recruiters can build a candidate-centric approach that demonstrates flexibility and illustrates what’s possible. Here’s how:

Adopt a matching mentality:

Successful hiring requires nuance that goes far beyond the reckless “butts in chairs” thinking we’ve seen in the past. Recruiting isn’t about backfilling a req. It’s about aligning the right person with the right job. It might be for the job they applied for or for a different position in another department.

We need to get recruiting to a place that when we say we’ll keep a resume on file for future openings, we mean it.

Source from all directions:

Likewise, to make matching second nature, recruiters think outside the apply flow. One study indicated that 64 percent of workers were looking for new job opportunities or would consider moving jobs if approved by another company.

With regard to the latter, most companies are already sitting on a gold mine of talent in their ATS or in their own employee ranks, and these candidates are ripe for rediscovery. Or maybe we want to find someone similar. Either way, we should use the information at hand to our advantage.

Be the advocate:

With technology able to automate and streamline key functions, particularly around sourcing and matching candidates, recruiters gain back hours in their day. This is where it becomes possible to assume a consultative role and advocate on behalf of the candidate or the company.

If candidate A is the absolute perfect person for position Y but won’t budge on remote work, go all the way to the top. Find a way to make the relationship work for both sides.

 

Forever is a very long time, and while no one wants to be disingenuous during the recruiting process, sometimes there are no easy answers to hard questions. For others, we need to rethink the question entirely, without sacrificing sleep schedules.


Authors
Brion Lau

Brion Lau is the Co-founder of MojoRank, an HR tech startup providing intelligent talent matching solutions for talent acquisition and mobility. Brion helped form MojoRank, in part, due to his passion for helping HR organizations match overlooked talent with the right opportunity at the right time. Before co-founding MojoRank, Brion was the Vice-President of Alliances and Marketing at iTalent Digital, an innovative, award-winning global digital consulting and software engineering company that counts Fortune 500 enterprise customers such as Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, and Adobe. Prior to that, Brion held senior leadership positions at Cisco and Kaplan. Brion holds a master’s degree in business from Santa Clara University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego.


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