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Recruiting & Hiring in the Furlough Era

Employers are operating in the parallel universes of those that need to furlough, or even eliminate, much of their workforce and those that need to expand to meet current demands. There are also companies that have shut down altogether and those that will need to quickly accelerate their operations on short notice. Although this is a time unlike we have ever seen, employers who need to hire now, or in the near future, can take some tried and true steps to prepare. 

If your business needs to fill positions to meet demands, hasty hiring can lead to costly (and frustrating) mistakes. Prioritize updating your recruiting strategy to prevent this. Is your business one that has temporarily suspended or slowed-down operations? Now is a great time to retool (or create) your recruiting strategy. Just as in non-pandemic times, this is a critical component of your company’s infrastructure. It provides a roadmap that can be used, perhaps with some modifications, every time you need to hire. The basic elements of a recruiting strategy include: 

  1. Clarify the role. Does it align with company goals and mission?
  2. Define a great candidate. What are their general characteristics and how do they fit into the bigger picture of the company or team?
  3. Tell your story. Why is your organization a great place to work? How is it different from other businesses in the industry or area?
  4. Identify networking partners. Who can help promote your organization as a great place to work (i.e. word-of-mouth recruiting)?
  5. Identify job posting outlets. Where will potential candidates see this job? What online job boards, online and print publications, professional organizations, etc. are well-qualified candidates likely searching?
  6. Create a compelling job notice. How will you get the attention of those well-qualified candidates? 

A recruiting strategy is not complete without an organized process that tracks candidates and responds to them promptly at every stage. Do not leave candidates wondering if you received their resume, if they are going to get an interview, or if they got the position. This makes your company look apathetic, disorganized, and unprofessional. You can use applicant tracking software or any system that suits the size of your company and also fits with your recruiting process. 

Once you have your plan developed, make sure the resources you need to execute it are in place. Does your company website need some work? Look at it as if you were a job-seeker, would it tell you what you need to know about the company as a workplace? Make sure there is an accurate portrayal of your company. If you “sugarcoat” any issues, a newly hired employee may move on once they realize what it is really like to work there. Working with a marketing or recruiting service to help you do this will be a worthwhile investment if you do not have internal talent and staff to do this. Have your content ready for online job boards and wherever you will advertise the position. Begin your word-of-mouth recruiting now by letting strategic partners know about your plans to hire when stay-at-home orders are lifted. This includes your current employees. Some of your best candidate referrals may come from people who already know your company so keep them in the loop about your plans. 

Even though these are strange and uncertain times, employers have some control over their recruiting efforts. The key, as with most aspects of business, is to be prepared. If creating a recruiting strategy is a new initiative for your company, dig in and do a little research. There are many resources available to help you, including recruiting professionals who can guide you through this process. Often working with these individuals allows you to discover, or rediscover, interesting details about your company. This may include ways in which you are a great employer but you just take for granted all that you do. It may also elevate the need to attend to some growth areas that you already know about but have not prioritized.

Creating a recruiting strategy will help improve how you hire and how you operate as an employer. Remember, a quick, poor decision made now will end up costing time and money in the long run. If you don’t have time to fully develop a recruiting strategy, consider alternatives such as hiring independent contractors or engaging a staffing agency. At all cost, avoid the “warm body and hope for the best” approach to filling positions. Although there are many challenges right now, there are also many opportunities…so go ahead and innovate how you recruit.