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Businesses slow recruitment during COVID-19 uncertainty

A Gartner poll of human resources executives revealed key trends and changes around hiring and recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most significantly, 86% of organisations are bringing in new virtual technology in order to interview candidates. However, due to increased uncertainty during this time, 82% of organisations anticipate a decline in external hiring for the three months to come.

Furthermore, 54% of organisations have delayed candidates’ start dates and 31% have cancelled internship programmes. In addition, 63% of recruiting leaders states more than half of all job openings are currently frozen.

The majority (85%) of companies that are onboarding are using new technologies to do so.

Gartner HR vice president Lauren Smith says, “Recruiting leaders are caught between the sourcing and hiring plans that were initiated before the COVID-19 outbreak and the rise in uncertainty and social and economic instability.

“As external hiring slows for many organisations, and business priorities change, leaders must evaluate different methods of recruiting and hiring.”

For one, Smith states many organisations can acquire the people they need by sourcing talent internally. Gartner research shows 39% of employees would be open to switching to a new role within their organisation, even if they are not actively searching.

Recruiting leaders can promote internal vacancies through online job fairs and should work with employees to locate openings, Gartner states.

With many employees now working from home it’s not surprising many organisations are utilising new technologies in order to help with hiring processes, and this trend may continue after lockdowns lift, according to the analysts.

In order to be most effective, Gartner states HR should partner with recruiting leaders to ensure they can successfully use recruiting technology to create a positive candidate experience.

Smith says, “While most organisations are currently conducting interviews remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviewing may become the new standard for recruiting leaders and candidates long after social distancing guidelines are lifted.

“The most successful organisations provide candidates with the same level of information and feeling of connection with the organisation as they would have with an in-person interview or onboarding experience.”

With so many changes taking place, and organisations freezing, cancelling or delaying hiring, it’s more important than ever for recruiters and hiring managers to manage candidate emotions in order to avoid both reputational damage and difficult recruiting efforts in the future, Gartner states.

Gartner suggests that leaders should provide clear and transparent communications to candidates if the position they applied for is placed on hold.

For candidates that have accepted a job offer, leaders must be as transparent as possible when communicating a delay in their start date and providing timely updates, the company states.

Smith says, “As organisations continue to embrace remote work policies during these circumstances, recruiting leaders should fill talent gaps through alternate employment models that present a lower risk to the organisation’s growth.”