“Many of our clients have responded, quite logically, to the Coronavirus crisis by moving to conserve cash as rapidly as possible,” says Mark Bealin, managing director of UHY Resource Solutions Group. “This has included a long list of actions including placing a freeze on new hires, reducing compensation, furloughing staff, reducing contractors and consultants, eliminating ‘discretionary spend’, and so on.”
All of these are necessary and appropriate actions in the face of an unprecedented collapse in demand.
Soon, however, companies will need to consider how and when to re-engage their talent acquisition processes.
Critical hiring needs will not disappear and in many cases, economic justification for moving forward now is compelling. This crisis has also highlighted situations where companies have gaps in critical positions or lack suitable backups for mission critical roles.
Given that the virus has struck so many individuals, companies need to consider maintaining continuity of operations in their staffing decisions.
How then should companies proceed?
We suggest the following course:
- Prioritize carefully – Initially, a broad policy to conserve cash is, obviously, prudent and appropriate. But eventually some investments will be needed to drive the business forward. Mission critical hires need to be considered as part of that process. Accordingly, management needs to systematically consider each open role. As part of that process, managers should rank openings based on potential economic and strategic impact. Careful consideration should be given to starting (or re-starting) the search for those roles at the top of the list.
- Don’t stop the process – Don’t completely halt your talent acquisition processes. These can be incredibly difficult to re-start costing you both valuable time and money. Continue to interview candidates - now through a computer screen since traditional interviewing is not feasible. To the extent practical, be transparent with candidates. Explain your situation and your anticipated timeframe. Stay in touch. Candidates greatly appreciate ongoing communication.
- Embrace technology – The traditional face to face, in person interview approach is going to be very difficult to perform for the foreseeable future. We are fortunate to live in a world that allows us to conduct conversations virtually. While not a perfect substitute, this approach does allow the process to move forward. Managers can continue to rank candidates and eliminate those that are clearly not fits. It is even possible to make hiring decisions without a face to face in person meeting using this technology. Clients have also used technology to evaluate candidates in the early stages of their search processes. Many are leveraging technology by asking candidates to respond to a standard question set through either video or audio technology. This “initial impression” forms the basis for next steps decision making. Clients today are successfully moving searches to conclusion using these tools. We expect that, given the world we are now in, this approach will predominate for some time.
- Assessment tools can help – Presuming that face-to-face discussions will be difficult if not impossible to perform, video conferencing coupled with behavioral and technical assessments can be very helpful. Much of the academic research points to “testing” as a more reliable method of evaluating candidates than the traditional face to face interview. Leveraging tools with a comprehensive video interview can be a powerful solution.
- Be ready to move – Eventually the compelling need for talent will require that companies act to fill key positions. This is not the time for reckless risk taking, however, managers should be ready to engage with candidates and, when the case is compelling, move to hire. In this environment, candidates who just a few short weeks ago were unavailable, may suddenly be willing to consider new opportunities. This opportunity to add high quality professionals to your team may be extremely attractive. Be prepared to act.
Originally published as a Linkedin blog post