The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard over the last few months, and that includes talent acquisition. Hiring freezes have become commonplace, but for those organizations that are still maintaining and, in some cases, increasing their hiring plans, another problem has arisen. According to Doodle’s “Recruiting and Onboarding Employees from a Distance” study (conducted late March through early April) , 48% of HR professionals said they are either only slightly prepared or not prepared at all to go fully virtual with their recruitment and onboarding programs.

To make matters worse, a mere 6% of respondents said that they conduct all of their job interviews virtually, while only 12% are inclined to conduct onboarding with new hires solely through virtual meetings.

These findings are particularly problematic right now given that most companies have instituted mandatory work-from-home policies to reduce the spread of coronavirus and stay in compliance with government-imposed lockdowns and social distancing guidelines.

Consequently, TA teams must continue to reevaluate their overall strategies and look for new methods, processes, and tools that will allow them to pivot to fully virtual processes in ways that are just as dynamic, engaging, and successful as before.

 Personalize the Interview

Job interviews have always been stressful, and they are more so now. Online meetings just don’t have the same vibe as in-person interviews. However, you should take this as an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and make a concerted effort to have a more dynamic and engaging presence during online interviews.

Instead of repeating the same things to candidates during online interviews, take the time to personalize each interview. For example, if you know you will be conducting a first discovery interview with a content marketing manager who is based in another country, do some research about fun facts about that country. Better yet, look up some recent news related to the content marketing industry and ask the candidate about it.

Such personalization accomplishes two things. First, it indicates that you (and your entire organization, by association) think of and treat candidates and employees as individuals first and foremost. Second, it gives candidates a glimpse into your company’s values, which can spark an internal desire to become part of your workforce. 

Cultural Show and Tell

 Speaking of your company’s values, “Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.” I absolutely agree with HubSpot’s culture code. With increased competition for talent and pressure to deliver exceptional customer experiences, culture has become a top priority for jobs-seekers. Indeed, 46% of candidates believe culture is very important in the application process.

For TA teams, the message here is crystal clear: Company culture must be an integral part of the online interview process. Expect candidates to ask about your company values and look for real-world examples of how your organization embodies them. Anticipate how you will show candidates that joining your organization — especially at a time when employee morale and engagement levels are likely dipping — will be a positive experience and make them feel like part of your community.

At Doodle, we took this time of quarantine as an opportunity to examine our existing cultural values and did a complete revamp of them. Rather than simply present some slides in our weekly all-hands, our Employee Culture Committee engaged our entire workforce across four countries with a four-week contest. Employees got creative and just enjoyed themselves. Moreover, this is the kind of personalized culture story that candidates want and need to hear right now.

 Don’t Cram Onboarding Into a Week

 Under normal circumstances, onboarding is no easy feat. But when you add in the complication of having to do it for entire workforces remotely, the challenge only grow.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, nearly three-quarters of hiring managers and HR professionals said their onboarding process lasts one month or less, while half said it only lasts a week or less. But now consider this: One-third of new hires who have been in their roles for six months or less are searching for a job. Cumulatively, these findings reiterate just how vital onboarding is in a new hire’s perception of the company culture, as well as long-term retention.

Rather than stuff 50+ onboarding activities into an entire week and hope that new hires absorb all of the information, you’ll be better served by expanding the onboarding period across the entire year. This will allow you to build out a more structured, personalized, and relatable onboarding program that’s focused on nurturing each employee’s personal and professional strengths, while helping them to grow in their careers.

In a year-long onboarding program, the first week can be solely dedicated to getting new hires set up with the necessary tools/software and spending time with their dedicated “buddies” who can help them navigate a variety of things and start the process of forming meaningful relationships within the company. Then at the end of month one, this is a great opportunity to set up a one-to-one meeting with the new hire to get 360-degree feedback on their role, their team, their manager and their sense of ownership and contribution overall.

Emphasize and prioritize the importance of self-care

 COVID-19 has forced talent acquisition teams to navigate new challenges around employee mental health. As the aforementioned Doodle study found, 14 percent of the respondents said the biggest challenge with managing remote and distributed employees is setting boundaries between home and work life. Plus, another 7 percent said minimizing stress and burnout among employees was a major hurdle for them.

We’re fortunate that today, most companies understand mental health awareness and care is just as much of a responsibility for employers as it is for healthcare providers. The talent acquisition team’s role is to raise awareness and provide clear communication about topics like self-care, mental wellbeing and burnout. This should include providing access to resources and support systems – be it speaking to internal teams within the organization or offering services from tools like Headspace to help employees clear their minds. I also highly recommend that managers make it clear to their teams that they are not required or expected to respond to messages sent outside of their normal working hours. I would also encourage employees to use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ features available on most mobile devices and apps. While these might seem like common sense to some people, it’s quite common for employees to feel a sense of responsibility to respond to emails or internal messages because failing to do so might make them seem like they aren’t dedicated to their job. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Renato Profico is the CEO of the leading enterprise scheduling tool, Doodle. A qualified executive with 20 years of professional experience in digital companies, he most recently held the position of CEO for four years at a leading job platform network in Switzerland, JobCloud. In addition to his extensive leadership experience, Renato is an expert in B2B sales, marketing, business development, customer relationship management, as well as organizational structure and development.


Virtual meeting stock image by fizkes/Shutterstock