If there’s one lesson we all learned in 2020, it’s the importance of flexibility. When the COVID lockdowns began, I remember how jarring it was to go from working in our beloved office – full of camaraderie and a newly renovated communal kitchen – to my home. Overnight.
I never really worked from home before, so I had to quickly piece together a makeshift desk out of a pantry door and eight five-gallon buckets just in time for my 8:30 a.m. meeting the next day. Although this was not an ideal setup, I quickly adapted and continued working in my new setting without a hitch.
Reflecting on this experience, I’m reminded of how flexibility and adaptability apply to recruiting, now more than ever.
What was once a standard part of the recruitment process – like holding formal in-person interviews – has changed in light of COVID-19.
In 2021, recruiters should consider how flexibility can simplify their talent acquisition efforts. While being flexible doesn’t mean you have to disregard long-standing best practices (like asking each applicant the same set of prescreening questions), it does mean that you’ll have an easier time attracting, onboarding, and retaining great talent, no matter what this year has in store.
Here are five ways to infuse more flexibility for a more modern, yet effective, recruiting process:
1. Embrace virtual interviewing.
Virtual interviewing was probably awkward for you (and your candidates) at first, but by now, you’ve likely become a video-conferencing pro. Even if you’re experiencing “Zoom” fatigue, think about the benefits of conducting virtual or video interviews long after COVID.
Virtual interviews are easier to schedule for both you and your candidates (no conference room reservations required).
You might also find that candidates interview better when in a relaxed, home environment. Just remember to be understanding if their internet goes out or their dog makes a guest appearance – it’s all part of this new recruiting reality.
2. Expand your remote workforce.
If you’ve proven that your organization can operate on all cylinders with a remote workforce, you might consider hiring full-time remote employees in other parts of the country (or even the world).
You won’t be limited to candidates within a certain geographic location, which allows you to tap into a more diverse pool of qualified talent. If you’re struggling to find candidates near your location, try expanding your job posting’s reach.
Specify that “remote work is available,” and see what type of talent you attract.
3. Think beyond traditional full-time positions.
Ask yourself, does your open position absolutely require a full-time employee? Can you hire two part-time employees instead? Or, is it appropriate to hire a temporary worker or consultant?
Job seekers are in so many unique situations right now – some are caring for children at home, while others may be testing the waters of a new industry after a COVID-related layoff. As with offering remote work, hiring for a variety of employment types can attract top-notch talent that would have never come across your job posting.
4. Relax your requirements.
As I’ve discussed before, finding qualified talent doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately disqualify candidates who don’t check every single box. For example, if a candidate doesn’t possess a college degree, but has 10 solid years of experience, don’t rule them out.
Take into consideration applicants’ soft skills (proficiencies you can’t easily teach) and determine if they can be trained in other areas to fill in gaps. Loosen your “must-haves” and focus on “nice-to-haves” to bring in great applicants you may have otherwise overlooked.
5. Revisit your total compensation package.
If budgets are tight, you may struggle to offer a salary competitive enough to get top talent in the door. In the spirit of flexibility, revisit the total compensation package you offer – what benefits and incentives can you introduce to sweeten the deal without breaking the bank?
You might provide flexible scheduling options (for example, employees could work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days), or offer a stipend to offset the costs of home internet service for remote staff. If your office is open for business, you could promote a hybrid work environment, allowing employees to plug-in from home when feasible.
It’s also helpful to recruit people who share your organization’s values and support its mission. This is another way to get great talent aboard if you can’t offer the highest salary – working for a company with a purpose offers intrinsic satisfaction.
The infamous year that was 2020 brought plenty of challenges, but with challenges come opportunities. Moving forward, I encourage you to embrace opportunities for infusing more flexibility into your recruiting processes.
You will find that you will attract a more qualified, diverse, and unique talent pool – ready and eager to work.
Jason Hayes is VP of Employer Sales and Customer Success at iHire, a career-oriented platform that connects candidates and employers across 56 industry-focused communities. Since 2006, he has progressed through numerous positions at iHire and kept his finger on the pulse of market changes and trends affecting job seekers as well as hiring professionals. Hayes is instrumental in building and sustaining iHire’s own workplace culture of excellence, innovation, and growth, and serves as a trusted resource for his team as well as iHire’s clients for finding the right talent in this competitive market.
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