In the span of about one week, nearly the entire world went virtual. Were you prepared? Was your home office ready and wired for dual monitors, proper internet bandwidth, a webcam, and a printer?

If not, you were not alone. Safe to say the majority of us who went virtual had to scramble to get ready for our new workspaces. Our new routines. Our new normal.

But preparation — hasty or not — can only take us so far. We’ve never experienced a global shutdown like this in our lifetimes, and no business is truly immune to its effects. How, in the face of something totally unknown, do we move forward?

Right now, recruiters are being tested. How you choose to carry out your craft and deliver your services will determine your success — not just for today, but for the months and years to come.

How Recruiters Should Respond to a Global Pandemic

Agency recruiting professionals who choose to continue selling positions, whether they have them or not, will not succeed beyond this pandemic. Professional patience is understandably thin right now, and those businesses that are still conducting some semblance of normal operations simply do not have the time to engage in conversations that are not immediately relevant to their current needs.

So, if you are an agency recruiter reaching out to potential clients and asking to work on their positions, be sensitive. Even organizations in essential industries like healthcare are facing some very difficult decisions right now. Understand that you are probably not going to get a lot of job requisitions today or in the coming months.

Instead, focus on building relationships with candidates so that you have quality talent in your pipeline for future hiring needs. Many people are planning and preparing for their next career steps once the pandemic has passed. How you treat them today matters — and they would probably be grateful for a resume refresh or LinkedIn profile review.

As for internal and corporate recruiters, you should understand that your role right now is about partnership and pipelining. Provide your internal stakeholders with data and insights that will assist them in their workforce planning efforts. Help virtualize the interview process and get people comfortable with the idea of extending offers without shaking hands.

It is also important to think about how candidates will view the interview process on the other side of the pandemic. How many job seekers will still be willing to take a whole day off to interview on site at your company? Think about the ways you’re making the hiring process more virtual today, and how the benefits of doing so might be extended into the post-pandemic future.

Recruiting Is a Vocation, Not a Job

Finally, I have some general advice for how all recruiters — internal or external — should behave as we weather this pandemic:

  1. Exercise empathy: In all communications, be sensitive to the pain and uncertainty plaguing the world right now. In a month’s time, the US went from roughly 3 percent unemployment to nearly 6 percent by some estimates.
  2. Be honest: You should never misrepresent positions, but especially not right now. A number of my clients have recently told me about recruiters misrepresenting opportunities when reaching out to them. People will remember how you treated them during this time, and they’ll share their experiences with others.
  3. Partner: Now is the time to provide value and consultation to candidates and clients. Move away from selling and toward helping. Consider how you can assist others, what value you can bring to the conversation, and what you can change today to make everyone stronger tomorrow. Be a consultant.

Recruitment is not a job, but a vocation. Therefore, we are called to help others, whether they are clients or candidates. Today, our candidates need us. They need our expertise, but also our hope. Recruiters have a set of skills and an understanding of the market that can help bring opportunities to those who are suffering. Are you doing that right now?

Our clients, meanwhile, need us to provide them with actionable data and insights that can help them make the transition to a new, virtual economy. Start developing strategies and plans for delivering the human experience in a virtual setting, and help your clients put those strategies and plans into action.

In some ways, there has never been a better time to be a recruitment professional. Our jobs are, by nature, already virtual; we build rapport with countless candidates across the globe. We build trust. We deliver talent that helps companies thrive.

Be proud of your profession. Deliver in a manner that aligns with the needs of the times, and you will see success both now and in the future.

Laureen Kautt, BCC (with additional Career Coach designation), is a global talent acquisition executive and the founder and principal coach of Volitionary Movement, LLC. “Confessions of a Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader” is her recurring column on Recruiter Today.

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