Pandemic Recovery: Best Practices for Hiring

By Mark Holyoake

While procurement hasn’t been immune to layoffs and furloughs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it hasn’t been hit as hard as other parts of businesses — and top talent within the function continues to be a finite resource in 2020. Organizations that have continued to hire through the pandemic have benefited from dwindling competition for workers. But as more companies hit the play button on hiring, the talent pool will become more scarce.

Therefore, it’s critical to cultivate a robust employer and personal brand. Relying on salary alone wasn’t enough before COVID-19, and in a work-from-home world, it’s become even more important to appeal to potential new hires through other means. Meanwhile, virtual workplaces have made it more challenging to convey an organization’s identity as well as align internally on best practices for hiring.

Hiring managers have a daunting task. Not only must they think about how to offer the best working conditions, they must (1) show workplace culture while working remotely and (2) ensure business values and principles mean something — that there is a cause or mission people can believe in. Further, this employee value proposition (EVP) needs to be clear to both potential and current employees.

How can you provide a unique set of benefits to employees in return for their skills and capabilities? Can you communicate this to potential talent without meeting in person? These best practices can help:

Make your organization stand out. At the beginning of the year, candidates enjoyed an abundance of choices in a market that had plentiful jobs. Although the situation is shifting due to COVID-19 fallout, a company can’t deprioritize retaining its best people and making its organization and procurement department stand out to potential new talent.

From the minute a job is posted or shared with a recruiter, the process is about connecting with people. To compete today, an organization must exhibit its strengths from the get-go — and hiring managers should do the same in a way that elevates them above others looking for the same talent.

Engage digitally. Face-to-face recruitment is impossible these days — so think about how to engage digitally, openly and honestly. If you have open business forums or online business discussions, invite prospective candidates to participate. It will give them a great view of your team and organization, and you may learn a lot about them, too.

Think about how to illustrate your EVP. If your organization cares about a cause and has excellent workplace traditions and a fantastic culture, tell potential employees. Use LinkedIn and other platforms to showcase attributes and celebrate your team’s accomplishments. Demonstrate how your procurement department cares for the people who work in it.

Improve your interview process. Make sure your interview process is effective, coordinated, fair, transparent and expeditious. Nothing will impress candidates more than a professional process that’s been carefully designed to get the best out of them under challenging circumstances. It needs to be a process in which they are respected and given everything they need to make a good impression, not one that has been haphazardly patched together.

Ensuring human connection is a challenge. But it also can be an opportunity. One influential procurement leader shared that she feels video interviews conducted from within the home humanize candidates and leadership alike, enabling insight into participants’ personalities that would be difficult to replicate in a formal office setting. The video-interview format has been a benefit to the company’s hiring-process efficacy and effectiveness.

Use employee referrals. Set up an employee-referral initiative, in which existing employees are rewarded if they help you find talented workers. A workplace testimonial can be more genuine and convincing from an employee than a hiring manager.

(Re)build your personal brand. Similar principles apply if you’re a candidate looking for a new opportunity. Remember, thanks to COVID-19, the number of prospective employees in the market has increased. A strong personal brand will dramatically increase your volume of opportunities. Create your own content on LinkedIn, reach out to influencers and industry leaders, showcase your skills, and be present.

Office environments have changed quickly, but with foresight, planning and creative thinking, organizations and candidates can successfully navigate this new normal.

About the Author

Mark Holyoake

About the Author

Mark Holyoake is founder and managing director at Holyoake Search, a New York-based procurement-focused recruitment organization.