Preparing for a Return to Recruitment During COVID-19

This week I had the opportunity to join Jill Tipping, CEO of the BC Tech Association on their weekly Townhall to talk about recruitment during COVID-19.

In my presentation, I shared my thoughts on some of the most important elements in your toolkit for attracting talent – even if you’re not hiring right now – as well as additional tips on things to consider adopting in your recruitment process when you are ready to hire again. Here is a summary of what we talked about.

Employer Branding
You might be asking why employer branding is important now if you are not currently hiring. If you think about the process from a candidate’s perspective, they go through a process of learning about the company in which they want to know how the employer treats their employees, what the work conditions will be like and what they will do in the job. It is much easier and quicker to engage a candidate that already knows your culture and work conditions than one who doesn’t. If you can get your employer brand recognized in the market, you also have a higher likelihood of receiving referrals from outside sources. The alternative is that no one knows who you are and without any prior information the best data they can get might be a company review site like Glassdoor (use this as reminder to check out your company’s reviews!)

Lastly, without any brand recognition in the market you are left to rely heavily on your job advertisements, Hiring Managers network and your Recruitment team to generate interest. This can be time consuming.

I recommend you work with your Marketing team to craft the right content. Here are some points to consider when creating your employer branding:

  • It should be on brand; sound, look and feel like an extension of how you already communicate to your customers. If it’s off it will sound disingenuous.
  • It needs to reflect your mission, vision and values and anything else that’s important to you as an organization. For example, your company might have a focus on environmental stewardship, or you may have done a great job with diversity and inclusion or supporting employees in their volunteerism.
  • It should paint a realistic picture of the culture and working conditions.

Employee Value Proposition
Your employee value proposition, also known as your EVP, is an extension of your employee experience.
It’s the culmination of your culture, values, office environment, working conditions and benefits all rolled into one.

Without defining it for your prospective employees, they’re left to make their own conclusions about what it’s like to work for your organization – 78% of people will look into a company’s reputation as an employer before applying for a job. If you aren’t telling your story, someone else most likely is.

You can also show prospective employees how you’re responding to this crisis (or any crisis) – for example, you can showcase how well you’re looking after your employees and their families during the pandemic.

A successful employment brand and EVP can also reduce your turnover rate by providing a realistic preview of what the work, culture, and employee experience will be like. A Gardner study shows that organizations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by 69%
As my first manager in recruitment used to say, give every candidate a realistic preview of the job and the culture. If they choose us over our competitor, we drastically increase the success rate of that hire.

Preparing for a Return to Recruitment During COVID-19
Even if you’re not hiring right now you may be in the next few months as your business reopens it’s offices. Now is the time to get ready.

My recommendation is to start filling your pipeline with talent that you anticipate hiring in the next couple of months. It may be a challenge to do this with every skill set but as a team you can work together to determine the top priority hires and focus on those first.

Start by researching talent on LinkedIn and reach out to individuals to introduce yourself and start building relationships. You can let them know that even though you aren’t hiring right now you anticipate doing so soon and you’d love to have an opportunity to talk with them about their career trajectory and goals. You could even go as far as booking a short 15-minute call to get to know them.
You can also create an evergreen job posting to capture applicants that are actively searching for new opportunities. Just make sure you’re responding to applicants as they apply to acknowledge their interest.

Video interviewing is key right now and having a good system that works for everyone is important. Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom are the most prevalent in my experience. Here’s a quick video on how to prepare for a video interview. This video applies to interviewers as much as it does interviewee’s so you could even share this one with your team and the candidates you interview so everyone is well prepared.

If you currently advertise your jobs on you can use the “phone screening” tool that allows employers to include questions that applicants need to record their answers to. You can then listen to their responses and determine if you should interview the candidate. This will save you a lot of time and is a good way to compare candidate responses.

One of the most critical steps in hiring is onboarding. We all need to be thoughtful about what new hires need to thrive when they can’t be face to face with people. What tools, technology, resources, meetings and connections need to be in place to build relationships and establish key contacts quickly?

Values Based vs Competencies Based Hiring
Values based hiring looks at the preferences, priorities, perceptions and behaviours of a candidate. Here are four examples of areas you can explore during a values based interview:

  • Look at the propensity of a candidate to take ownership of their mistakes.
  • Investigate their motivation to succeed but not at the cost of doing what is right.
  • Uncover whether they believe they can overcome obstacles to their success.
  • How has the candidate overcome adversity and what led to their success?

If you think we missed something, we’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback. For a more comprehensive list of Tools, Tips and Tricks on recruiting in your industry, send us an email to