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Over the last few months, the business community has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. While many companies have instituted hiring freezes as part of their crisis management plans, this isn’t a viable option for every organization.

According to a recent CNBC article, hiring can’t and won’t stop for companies like Amazon, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, and Walgreens Boots Alliance, all of which have hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of essential roles to fill to keep up with surging customer demands.

On the one hand, it’s inspiring to see thousands of open roles up for grabs at a time like this. It’s good news for job seekers, for organizations, and for the economy as a whole. On the other hand, these massive hiring efforts reveal the ways in which the traditional recruitment process falls short.

Every job opening could bring hundreds or thousands of candidates into a hiring process involving multiple phases, numerous internal stakeholders, and a variety of tools and platforms to navigate. Candidates and talent acquisition teams alike can struggle to keep up with it all. Even in the best of times, recruiting is no easy feat. Rather, it’s a delicate balancing act of many different tools, people, and processes. Even the smallest operational hiccup — not to mention a pandemic — can throw recruitment plans into disarray.

According to Doodle’s “Recruiting and Onboarding Employees From a Distance” study, the biggest recruitment hurdle for 22 percent of HR professionals is scheduling meetings with multiple team members, while 15 percent find it difficult to juggle multiple tools to schedule and conduct interviews. Additionally, 14 percent of the surveyed HR professionals said they end up losing potential candidates due to back-and-forth emails/phone calls. I envision these percentages will only increase drastically over the next few months.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. If organizations strategically approach the challenge of adapting their recruiting strategies to our virtual-first, socially distanced work environment, they can craft processes that fill essential roles without losing business momentum.

Start Small: Don’t Try to Revamp the Whole System in a Day

Of course, before you launch any new recruiting effort, you’ll need to get buy-in from the executive team. To do this, HR needs to connect the dots and show the C-suite how a positive candidate experience leads to more engaged employees, which in turn leads to customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue growth. These are benefits executives will appreciate, and your new initiative is likely to get the go-ahead as a result.

Once you have approval, where do you begin? Instead of trying to do a complete overhaul of every hiring process, start small. Focus on one or two pressing areas first. For example, given that onboarding directly influences employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and revenue growth, I’d recommend HR teams start there. From there, you can do a complete analysis and assessment of your recruitment process from start to finish — including the people and tools involved — to get a full picture of what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be streamlined or automated.

Consider Incorporating Remote Meeting Tools

According to data from our platform here at Doodle, there was a 47 percent increase in the number of virtual meetings in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter. As more and more HR teams start adopting their hiring practices for a fully remote world, it’s likely we’ll see further increases in virtual meetings.

Despite the increasing reliance on remote meeting tools, our study found that videoconferencing tools and scheduling technology both rank very low on the priority list for recruiting and onboarding budgets. In this current climate of uncertainty, HR teams can’t afford to treat recruiting like business as usual. While videoconferencing and automated scheduling tools may have once been optional, they’re integral to any serious virtual recruiting process.

If HR teams don’t adjust their mindsets when it comes to what counts as critical hiring technology today, they’ll have a great deal of trouble filling essential roles quickly. Competitors who have more fully embraced virtual recruiting will attract the lion’s share of top talent, and those employers still doing things the old way will likely experience lower productivity, poor performance, and declining revenues as they struggle to staff up.

The Future of Work Will Be Tech-Enabled, Automated, and Fully Remote

COVID-19 has shown HR and recruiting professionals around the world that it’s time to adapt our hiring practices to the modern era, but it has also proven that the future of work itself will be technology-enabled, automated, and fully remote. That’s all the more reason for HR teams to advocate for the adoption of tools that support virtual work.

In addition, employees themselves will want to see this kind of technology incorporated into their workdays, even once the pandemic has ended. They’re already seeing firsthand how virtual work solutions can make their lives easier and streamline repetitive tasks.

For example, consider how companies can leverage technology to schedule online meetings with ease. If an employer is using an enterprise social network like Slack, employees can take advantage of automated scheduling integrations that allow them to manage their calendars, connect with colleagues, and book meetings directly through the platform. That’s a much smoother process than the back-and-forth emails of old.

Automated scheduling is just one example of how technology is streamlining remote workers’ lives already. As workers become acquainted with further virtual work solutions, they’ll come to expect this level of convenience not just at work, but also in the recruiting process. Organizations that want to establish themselves as employers of choice — both now and once the lockdowns have ended — would do well to start adapting today.

Renato Profico, CEO, Doodle.

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