More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the nature of work as we knew it, it’s no surprise that there has also been a transformation in how people are recruited and hired for work.
As a cascade of layoffs in hard-hit sectors flooded the labor market with job candidates and as other fields ramped up recruiting to meet surging demand for services like e-commerce and information technology to support new or growing trends like remote working, buying, and learning, recruiting top talent became easier due to the deluge of highly qualified applicants and harder due to the inherent challenge of urgently sifting through hundreds or even thousands of applications.
Making matters even more challenging was the rapid shift to at least partially remote work modes, which forced recruiters to rely on digital solutions to carry out the hiring process. One survey found that video interviews spiked by 159% year over year in 2020.
As with many other COVID-era changes, what started as a stopgap solution will, in fact, be a prominent feature of the post-pandemic landscape.
Other trends set to reshape the world of recruitment include an ongoing expansion of hiring pools, a new approach to artificial intelligence (AI)-driven recruitment solutions, and a greater emphasis on candidates’ soft skills. Here’s what it all means for recruiters navigating the working world’s new normal.
Video Interviews Are Here to Stay
While video interviews were hardly unheard of before the pandemic, many businesses had little to no experience meeting job candidates on screen. One year on, they’re seeing substantial long-term benefits to the practice.
Since transitioning to video interviews, recruitment managers at P&O Ferries have spent 62% less time on the interview and assessment process, and they agree unanimously that they would prefer to continue with video as the first stage of the interview process, according to data provided by the company. U.K. online grocer Ocado has had a similarly positive experience, with 90% of hiring managers saying they want to continue video interviews post-pandemic and 94% of job applicants giving the video interview experience a 4- or 5-star review.
Not only does a hybrid interview process save employers time and travel costs, but incorporating video also allows hiring managers to review candidates’ answers by replaying the interview recording and analyzing automatic transcriptions, enabling a more objective and accurate assessment of candidates’ interview performance and overall suitability. Video also allows many candidates to shine in a way CVs never could, putting personality ahead of paper.
Location, Location, Location? Not Necessarily
With many employers planning to continue remote or hybrid work even after the pandemic ends, geographic barriers to recruiting top talent are breaking down.
This isn’t just good news for companies’ ability to find quality employees no matter where they’re located; it’s also a boon to their efforts to build a more diverse workforce.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have moved to the forefront as critical factors in the overall culture, and corporate culture is no exception. When hiring is no longer as constricted by geography as it was before, it’s easier for companies to attract talent from a rich variety of ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.
A More Critical Approach to AI
In recent years, AI and machine learning as recruitment tools have grown a lot less theoretical and a lot more real, and the increasing use of digital HR platforms has been a key driver of this trend.
But while many employers have found AI-based solutions efficient and effective, some of these products have come with significant challenges. Case in point: Earlier this year, HireVue abandoned its facial monitoring tool amid criticism that the company had been too opaque about how the feature worked. Others have criticized algorithmic biases built into AI systems, highlighting the need for technology that is inclusive by design.
Despite the concerns, the adoption of these solutions is growing, with companies and recruiters reaping the benefits that are offered—and there is no going back.
When developed from the get-go with fairness built in, however, AI-powered technologies can not only streamline a time-consuming task but also help promote diversity and inclusion in the hiring process. Doing so requires an intensive approach to vet and test such solutions before full-scale implementation to ensure qualities like cultural fit, critical skills, and intuition are evaluated fairly and that a diverse range of backgrounds, attributes, attitudes, and points of view are baked into the AI as the ultimate hiring goals.
Soft Skills Take Center Stage
There’s no denying that the past year has underscored the necessity of flexibility at all organizational levels. That’s why more and more recruiters are placing a premium on candidates’ soft skills—especially their adaptability.
To that end, recruiters and HR professionals have had to reassess their hiring processes to better assess factors like time management and candidates’ ability to adjust course when necessary and work under high-uncertainty conditions. Even after the pandemic fades, these skills will serve employers and employees well into the future, particularly given the increasingly rapid pace of technological change and workplace innovation.
For all the challenges of the past year, the pandemic has also been a catalyst for new thinking and even positive growth and development in key areas, including hiring and recruiting. The recruitment and interviewing field has leapfrogged ahead to meet the demands of new procedures, with technology adjusting accordingly. Looking beyond the résumé, reducing the importance of physical locations, placing a newfound emphasis on soft skills and character, and ensuring fair and diverse hiring processes that benefit workers and workplaces are all issues being addressed in a more pressing way since the pandemic began. A new era of more inclusive and dynamic recruitment is upon us—and that’s a development well worth embracing.