Hiring managers often use job fairs and networking events to connect with possible candidates. These events can be a great way to advertise internships or entry-level positions to candidates who are soon-to-be or recently graduated and eager to get to work. These are regular events for many companies who are hiring for many roles. However, in a pandemic world, these events are put on hold. Employers are looking for new ways to connect with these groups remotely - whether it’s through paid advertising on social media or virtual job fairs.
“One of the big changes is we typically attend a lot of career fairs and networking events to meet with young professionals but this year they didn't exist. This initial point of contact disappeared so we have to connect with recent grads or interns in different ways.”
- Alex Youland, Murphy Hospitality Group
“When we think about skills we think more about mindset. We really look for people who are willing to adapt, who are open and resilient to change, and people who are entrepreneurial in nature. The technical hard skills are important too but for us culturally we're looking for the mindset piece.”
- Simon Chan, Communitech
Resumes can speak to a candidate's technical skills, but the majority of employers we spoke to mentioned the importance of soft skills when it comes to determining the best fit. How can hiring managers identify these in a candidate virtually? This is a challenge in a pandemic world. Looking to create new simple ways to identify soft skills as part of the recruitment process could help find people who are the right fit.
“It's a bit harder to ask questions, you need to set up a call with someone, send them a message, and wait for them to respond, so it's not as fluid a conversation as being in the office where you can just go to their desk or office." - Sam Hache, Hawk
Employers are having to put more trust in their employees to get their work done remotely, however they are seeing the results. Having employees with more freedom, autonomy and work-life balance can lead to more satisfaction and efficiency at work. Some companies are not returning to the office any time soon, while others are adapting to a hybrid model with some days in the office, some days working from home. COVID-19 showed us that working from home is highly sustainable and beneficial for both employees and employers. Remote work also allows employers to access a whole new global pool of talent. If workers don’t have to be in the office, you can have a team with employees from across the country, or the world.
Some of the challenges companies are facing is around the process of setting up a meeting with a co-worker. When working from home, it is not as easy to have a quick chat with your co-worker to ask a question as it was in the office. More time is being wasted going through the process of emailing the co-worker and setting up an online meeting at a time that is suitable for everyone.
An idea to overcome this challenge for companies is practising a hybrid model using a third-party messaging app such as Slack, where people can send a message quicker than email and can call a co-worker right from the app. Employers could also implement a "virtual door always open" feature for new hires to ask questions to their managers as they normally would in the office without the formality of "setting up an online meeting" just to ask the questions that a new hire typically has.
“I think we're going to see a lot of innovation in ways to sell, ways to work, ways to hire, all of these new ways to do your business. When we're re-introduced to physical interaction we will be able to select which way works best. The best innovations come from these situations.”
-Mike MacPhail, MNP
Despite the economic uncertainty that COVID-19 has presented, many companies throughout Atlantic Canada have still been actively hiring throughout the pandemic. Virtual recruitment has become the new norm for hiring managers. Finding candidates through online applications was already standard practice. However now the screening and interviewing process can no longer be conducted in person. Interviews are increasingly being conducted on Zoom. This can make it difficult to find a candidate with the right fit.
On the other side, it’s important for companies to brand themselves as a desirable place to work. In order to attract the best talent, organizations need to offer a positive work experience. Young professionals want support and guidance, but also independence to learn and grow.
While COVID-19 has posed some challenges for recruitment and has limited the number of available opportunities for organizations, it is not to be forgotten the benefit that young professionals can offer despite their limited career experience. We heard through interviews that young professionals can be a great resource to teach and shape them into an ideal member of the organization that you can put your trust in for the future of the company.
Training and Onboarding
“My biggest issue is that it is very difficult to train people using Zoom. It takes a lot longer and it doesn't seem as effective. It takes away the personal connection.”
- Chris Bland, Humanscale
We heard from many hiring managers that one of the greatest challenges is finding an effective way to train and onboard new hires virtually. In a pandemic world, the usual face-to-face training method had to be scrapped. Many organizations are doing virtual onboarding for the first time, and are still learning what works for them. It’s crucial to maintain an open dialogue with recruits, constantly take feedback and tweak the process along the way.