Safe Search – Executive Recruiting and Covid-19

Executive recruiting thrives on specialised industry knowledge, extensive and well-maintained networks, and that most human quality, getting to know each other face to face – at least until now.  
executive recruitment covoid-19 coronavirus

COVID-19 will almost certainly change the way we live and work.  It’s certainly establishing a set of protocols to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, ranging from simply washing our hands properly to avoiding public transport, non-essential travel, large gatherings and even busy offices.  

Our clients rely on us to find, sift through and qualify applicants with the right “cultural fit” – not just technical skillset. The latter is increasingly being done by artificial intelligence, but the former stills needs us. Skype and video interviewing are used often in recruitment and besides solving geographical and time difference issues, there are other benefits such as cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint due to less travel. However, recruitment is human-centric and impressions are everything.  

It’s much easier to understand who our candidates are and how they interact with others in a  face-to-face meeting. Beyond the interaction between recruiters and candidates, removing the interaction between candidates and future employers further complicates an already intricate connection.   

In a world where we are instructed, and morally obligated, to reduce unnecessary movement and social interaction, a world where the handshake becomes an irresponsible act, how do we adapt to make the recruitment process safer and more effective for clients, candidates and recruiters? 

For Clients 

Using specialist recruiters to do more of  what you would normally bring in-house will help cut lengthy internal processes and remove external interactions that cannot be done remotely. It will also narrow the pool of candidates that will come into contact with your organisation. Search firms are managed by highly experienced recruiters who are subject matter experts in their specialist fields. This expertise and the process of candidate mapping & benchmarking, behavioural selection, evaluation and referencing means that you will only be presented with the best.  

It may also be pertinent to consider how much preliminary training and induction can be done remotely, to prepare for a scenario in which new starters must self-isolate or work from home for the first one to two weeks regardless of having symptoms or not.

For Candidates  

Expect to see a significant increase in digital interaction. Coffees and informal chats will make way for calls, certainly for initial stage qualification. This has positives and negatives – you won’t spend time and money getting to and from meetings, or risk additional exposure to COVID-19 on public transport. On the flip side, you may need to be more open as a candidate and willing to proffer information on calls or video chats that for some might be easier in a free-flowing conversation over a coffee.

Approach a call like you would a final round interview. Video conversations are shorter on average, and less personal – so you will need to find more hooks or common ground in advance – there is no excuse not to be prepared, whether it’s a call to a recruiter or directly to a client – in which case your recruiter will help you to prepare!  

None of this should be new to anyone that has gone through a job transition before. However, as interaction between candidates and recruitment consultants, and candidates and clients, reduces (or changes) candidates must be even more clued up on future employers. You may no longer have the opportunity to meet a potential employer several times over a hiring process – thereby reducing your ability to get a better sense of their culture.  

As for candidates who might be slightly less comfortable with technology – call us. It’s our job to present quality candidates to our clients, and to prepare and ‘polish’ you.  

The reality is that technology has advanced to a stage that almost every recruitment function can be run remotely. For that final human touch though… keep a safe distance and keep hand sanitiser close by!  

Remember – keep calm and follow the advice of your Public Health Authority and the WHO.