Post COVID-19 Hiring Challenges

TSP • @myTSPnet


There’s no doubt we are going through a period of skills shortages. This issue isn’t limited to one field, and in some cases existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, cybersecurity hiring was already tight in 2019, averaging less than 1% unemployment at the time. Demand for top talent to handle increasing threats and a limited supply of highly skilled security professionals put a premium on available candidates. The pandemic increased the challenge.

Attacks on specific sectors like healthcare and the acceleration of ransomware and supply chain threats like Colonial Pipeline increased the demand for companies and managed services providers to staff up with security specialists. Cybersecurity unemployment is now essentially zero. In other fields like retail or transportation, even for less skilled positions, companies have offered a range of incentives to fill open roles, such as $20K hiring incentive for truck drivers.

At the same time, the hybrid workforce appears here to stay, and most employers are finding a middle ground between full-time in a fixed location and 100% remote, depending on the needs of the business. Hiring has also moved virtual, with a fully online recruiting and decision-making process in many cases. Over the past 18 months, an increasing number of new employees have never met their new colleagues or manager in person throughout the hiring and onboarding process.

According to Forbes, the top challenges for HR professionals coming out of the pandemic include many employees’ desire to stay remote, remote hiring, digitization of recruitment, evolving job skills, and a reduction in recruiting budgets. So, what are some best practices for hiring in this uncharted environment?

Data from LinkedIn shows a 20% increase in internal mobility since the pandemic. Creating compelling career paths for current employees can increase motivation and reduce turnover, but this isn’t always easy in today’s flat organizations. It may not always involve traditional title promotions up a fixed career ladder. Offering opportunities to expand skills and try new areas can motivate existing teams as employees should feel they are gaining skills and experience that will help their career over the long run.

The potential downside? Employers will need to keep pace with compensation expectations for these more senior roles, within a competitive salary band and jobs framework. But the market is forcing that anyway, and there is always the risk in up-skilling employees that we are simply training them for their next career move with another employer. It’s a balancing act. However, if the culture is right, all other factors being equal, your employee retention can be expected to stay strong.

Even with best efforts to promote from within, increasing process automation, and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms, companies facing major increases in demand will need to add people resources over time. Those may be full-time employees, contractors, or part time workers. In any of those cases, expect that remote interviewing will remain the norm for the foreseeable future.

One of the newer approaches seen in the market is asynchronous, on-demand interviewing. Candidates are asked to record short videos in response to questions. This reduces the scheduling challenge for time-pressed HR staff and hiring managers, and better ensures consistency for a fair comparison.

Whether you are using an in-house team, an outside talent acquisition firm or a mix, the hiring team needs to be constantly up-skilling to compete for scarce talent. Teams should be learning the latest remote interviewing techniques, understanding the digital resources to identify pools of talent, and building good end-to-end processes so that the move from recruiting to onboarding is seamless for new hires.

Leading-edge organizations should adopt and build familiarity with data analytics tools that highlight a company’s sweet spot for successful hiring. Common metrics to evaluate are time to hire, cost to hire and acceptance rate, and can highlight areas of improvement. Overall, the skills shortage isn’t expected to ease any time soon. Smart employers can work through the challenges to keep building their organization.

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