Post-Covid recruitment: attracting candidates

Opeyemi Ogundeji, researcher and employment law writer at Croner-i, details four key things employers need to think about when recruiting new talent into their business.

The process of recruiting new talent can be complicated for employers to approach, let alone as the UK economy begins to overcome the impact of the pandemic. However, having the right thought process and opening the business up to new possibilities may be essential if a recruitment exercise is to be cost-effective and attract the right quality of applicants.

Before putting out an advertisement for a new/existing role, it is important for employers to organise and plan their approach carefully, considering the content and the design of the job advert. In addition to this, and other considerations that would usually be had when recruiting new talent, employers should keep four key things in mind when searching for new talent post-Covid.

Know what candidates want

Attracting new talent is as much about knowing what the right candidate would want from a role as it is about the role itself. During the coronavirus pandemic, many people would have had the opportunity to evaluate what they want from their jobs and it is important that employers do their research on what these things may be — so that they can incorporate them, reasonably, into their business to attract new talent.

Ascertaining what candidates want before even hearing from them, eg before they apply for the role, may seem impossible; however, the answer may be a lot closer to home than some may realise. Existing employees can tell a company a lot about the changing trends that they should be looking out for. For example, some employers may find that a lot of their staff are favouring more flexibility, for a smoother work-life balance, or they may have been advocating for newer technology to ease the stresses of day-to-day working life.

Paying close attention to these details, as well as some research into trends outside their own workplace, could help employers know what may attract the right candidate into their business.

Embracing career changers

Changing careers is not a new phenomenon; however, as more people have been given the time to reflect on their life ambitions during lockdown, we may begin to see more and more people making the shift.

According to the job advertisement search engine, Adzuna, a survey released in 2020 shows that a quarter — approximately 2.2 million — of workers in the UK were considering a career shift for 2021. These figures indicate that, if given the opportunity, workers are willing to enter other industries or try other roles within the same industry.

With this in mind, employers may find it beneficial to become more open to hiring those with little to no industry experience of a particular role but who show promise, determination, and are willing to learn.

While this may seem like a big risk for employers, here are some of the reasons why hiring career changers may be good for business:

  • even though they may not have the industry experience, they could possess some key transferable skills which may be difficult to find in someone who does have the desired industry experience

  • they tend to have increased self-awareness, which may be a great asset to the business — they are able to weigh up what they are and are not capable of doing; they are ambitious and passionate about what they know they are capable of

  • some will have invested time, and maybe money, into training and developing the skills and knowledge they need to go into a new role or industry, and this should not be taken for granted.

There are many reasons why people will choose to change careers and it is important that employers do not make assumptions about this, eg that they don’t know what they want or that they are simply unhappy in their current job. The best way to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the role, and the company, is to not discount their CV but instead invite them for an interview.

Offering hybrid working and more flexibility

Arguably the biggest trends of 2021, hybrid working and increased flexibility may be great selling points for attracting new talent into the business.

Hybrid working is where staff work from home and from the office. While it is not a new concept, as the option to work from home through flexible working existed prior to the pandemic, it is something that has become much more popular in recent times. People who have worked from home during the last 12 months, or have seen others do so successfully, may be more interested in applying for jobs within organisations who offer this.

According to People Management, a study has shown that publicising the availability of flexible working patterns may contribute to a 30% increase in job applicants. Aside from this, and due to the popularity of flexible working, employers may find that offering this perk could not only show an increase in interest for advertised roles but also in maintaining morale and staff retention — of both new and existing staff.

Hybrid working, however, isn’t a perfect solution for all businesses as some may see its drawbacks. For example, some roles may be difficult to undertake from home, even on a part-time basis, and managers will need to take this into account. It may be that other forms of flexible working could be explored, such as varying start and finish times or staggered shifts.

Company culture still matters

When all is said and done, one thing will remain the same — the emphasis on company culture. Regardless of where we are as a society, the social order of a company will remain important for candidates to consider before choosing to apply or accept a job — this is why anonymous review sites, such as Glassdoor, remain a popular go-to for candidates.

A good company culture shows candidates that the business is reputation-led, employee centric and is results driven, all of which not only make for a successful business but is also a good indication of how candidates will potentially fit in within the business.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, 42% of staff said they would rather work a 60-hour week than work for a company that does not value its culture — according to a survey conducted by Speakap. The study, which gathered responses from 1000 employees in both the UK and US, reinforced how powerful workplace culture can be when it comes to attracting and retaining staff. Fifty eight per cent of those surveyed admitted that they would take a job with a competitor which demonstrates a better workplace culture.

Employers should not assume that these figures would have changed due to the pandemic. As we know, the pandemic will have given workers the opportunity to reflect on what they may want out of their job, meaning company culture may still be a driving force when hiring and retaining staff — particularly an employer’s willingness to move with changing times.

Keeping this in mind, a lot of company cultures may have changed within the past year due to the pandemic. It is important to note that this may not necessarily be an off-putting factor for candidates. In fact, knowing that employers are willing to embrace change could help to drive recruitment success.

Parting note

Given the global impact of coronavirus, it is reasonable to predict that the way employers recruit new talent, and the things that workers value, will continue to change, with culture becoming a more influential aspect of the workplace going forwards.

With this in mind, employers may benefit from reviewing their flexible working stance, company culture, opening themselves up to those changing careers, and getting to know what candidates really value in an employer.