Coronavirus: Could Pausing Senior-Level Recruitment Damage Your Business?

5 min read

By Ben Riley

CEO

With the number of coronavirus cases increasing daily, it is hard to ignore the impact the virus is having on the everyday lives of employees across the globe. Companies, such as LinkedIn, Apple and Google, are asking their employees to work from home where possible, reducing non-essential travel and considering how they reduce their employees’ contact with other people throughout the working day. For many, this widespread uncertainty is affecting business decisions, including investment and growth plans, as companies are understandably minimising risk to their businesses. Senior leaders and HR teams may be under pressure to consider implementing hiring freezes but in which cases could this cause a negative impact on your organisation’s performance?

Senior-level employees are vital for business performance. They are the go-to people in times of uncertainty, steering the ship and ensuring an on-going strategy for firm survival. Pausing hiring for these roles could have a damaging impact on business performance and on the ability of your company to remain adaptable and competitive in a time of uncertainty.

There are also positives for companies who are looking for senior-level employees at this time: employees working from home have more thinking space to consider if their current role is right for them as well as more flexibility to attend interviews. If fewer companies are hiring it means less competition for securing the best talent in your industry giving you a competitive advantage. Once hiring freezes are lifted it is going to be much harder to attract the leading talent to your business.

To ensure you have the people in place you need and to make sure you don’t miss out on talented candidates, recruitment processes are having to change. New obstacles are in the way and start dates for new roles overseeing new projects could be delayed. So how do you progress with those important senior-level influential roles?

Adapt Your Recruitment Process

For those senior-level roles you need to recruit for now, it is likely that you will need to change your normal interview process. Particularly at a senior-level, companies are keen to meet candidates face-to-face, but this may no longer be possible depending on travel restrictions and your own company’s policies.

With the situation changing every day, and no one sure of how long the virus will continue to spread, clients are doing what they can to ensure their recruitment processes are not put on hold. Our clients are adapting their interview processes and making more use of video conferencing technology such as Skype, Zoom and GoToMeeting. Several of our clients are starting to use software such as Microsoft Teams for all stages of the interview process, but many have already been doing this for years successfully – it’s not a revolutionary change, it’s simply an evolution. We have been speaking to a number of our clients over the past few weeks about their processes and Barny Guthrie - Chief Executive at Clinical Partners – is one such client who has been able to continue recruiting by using video conferencing technology: 

“We interview around 100 candidates for various roles nationally each year and previously travelled to meet with them all over the country. Video conferencing technology has improved beyond recognition in the last couple of years. This has allowed us to swap to carrying out all first and some second interviews online, and this is hugely more efficient whilst still allowing us to get a good sense of the candidate. This has meant we were well prepared for the coronavirus, which is not affecting our recruiting processes.”

Flexible working is a way of life now and many companies already have facilities set up for people to have a flexible work-life balance – we ourselves at CSG Talent have hired people to work like this and have in fact successfully recruited people for ourselves without meeting them face-to-face and just using Skype. Companies that have already invested in their people and their technology will reap the benefits as they are already geared up to minimise the impact. Conducting interviews through video conference software will also have a positive impact on your business by reducing spend on unnecessary travel.

As well as making use of technology, our clients are opting to avoid handshaking, asking questions about candidate’s recent travels before face-to-face interviews and meeting away from their offices.

If you are working in partnership with a recruitment business there are things they can do to support your hiring process as well, whether that’s seeking extra references for candidates you haven’t been able to meet in person or even offering a pipelining solution to keep candidates engaged and ready for hire if you really cannot complete the recruitment process. Talent Pipelining is used in situations when clients want to ensure they recruit the highest-calibre of talent but they either don’t need to hire someone for a set period of time – maybe 6-9 months – or they don’t have a set date for recruitment. It allows for a reduced time to hire when they need to recruit and also ensures they don’t miss out on talented individuals. However, in times of uncertainty, it can be useful to make sure a business doesn’t lose a talented candidate because of delays beyond their control. You can either have a shortlist ready to invite to interview when needed or you can even do some of the interview process up until the face-to-face stage, but the role we play is keeping those candidates engaged in the company and excited about the opportunity. It also enables clients to stagger their costs of hiring often paying in instalments at set points in the hiring process, which can be useful if you are looking to reduce costs but need to keep the process moving.

If you are looking for recruitment support for senior-level roles immediately and over the next few months, one of our industry-specialist consultants can offer your business advice and support on this issue. Contact us: clients@csgtalent.com.