If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s been the importance of preparing for the unexpected. That includes developing a sustainable recruiting strategy.
Maintaining business continuity in volatile times comes down to planning. “It’s about having a strong process in place — with contingencies,” says Mary Faulkner, talent strategist and principal at IA. “You have your standard process, but then you have an exception process that allows you to flex.” Based on the current trends, we can prepare for economic and public health scenarios that could impact our businesses over the upcoming months.
Recruiting can be so much more than a transactional function or service at your organization. Here’s how to develop a recruiting strategy to sustain your business, no matter what 2021 has in store.
Work With Internal Partners
Work alongside HR and talent management to develop a long-term talent vision. Even in volatile times, setting benchmarks gives you a target to work toward. “First and foremost, it starts with envisioning the workplace that you want to see,” says Cody Horton, founder, and managing director at Diverse Recruiting Experts. “If you know where you're trying to get to, it's easier to build a path to that.” Internal partners in HR and talent management can assess the skills your organization needs for the coming year and implement reskilling or upskilling programs.
Ensuring you have the internal talent available to fill crucial positions reduces risks from lack of coverage. “Increasing your focus on internal mobility is a really good way of building that sustainable recruiting,” Faulkner says.”Recruiting is going to need to work hand-in-hand with talent management.” Internal recruiting allows you to fill roles quickly without spending a lot of time training new employees.
If you can nurture those hard skills internally, then recruiters can focus on hiring promising talent with basic hard skills and the soft skills you need for digital transformation, such as agility, leadership, collaboration, and flexibility.
Develop Several Staffing Models
If you operate an in-person business, the virus could heavily impact your operations. Learn from the recent past: What staffing challenges have you encountered since the pandemic? Have some roles been more exposed to the public and the virus, for example? Part of your recruiting strategy moving forward might include having standby staffing in areas where COVID’s impact is highest. You can make a plan to incorporate contingent workforces for situations like this, Faulkner says, or when you need a specific skill set for a project but can’t support a full-time employee.
Social distancing and other safety measures could continue to affect your staffing, too. You might need to have three shorter shifts per day versus two shifts, for example. Projecting your staffing models in light of COVID scenarios heading into 2021 will help you identify your potential recruiting needs.
Also, make it a priority to build relationships with hiring managers to understand their specific current and ongoing staffing needs to keep the business moving forward. “Building relationships with managers is one of the things that has helped me succeed as a recruiter,” recalls contract recruiter Joi White of her own professional experience. Relationship building facilitates a more collaborative than transactional recruiting role.
Nurture Your Talent Pipeline
We don’t know when we’ll need to ramp up operations, but having a pool of ready-to-hire talent minimizes the risk of understaffing in a period of high demand for your business. Additionally, recent hires who accepted a position below their skillset due to unemployment could lead to turnover whenever the economy stabilizes. To build a sustainable recruiting strategy, you must nurture a talent pipeline. A critical way to do this is by providing a good candidate experience.
Standardize and streamline your hiring processes now, White suggests. This provides a better, more consistent candidate experience — and having a consistent process gives a baseline for improvement and flexibility.
Adopt a recruitment marketing strategy to attract potential candidates. Conduct stay interviews to find out what employees like about the experiences you offer, Horton suggests, and leverage their response to boost your employer brand. Don’t lie about your employer brand, though — advertising what you’d like your brand to be, rather than what it is, sets you up for turnover.
If your employer brand doesn’t meet your standards, listening to your existing workforce provides a blueprint for improvement. “It costs more to hire someone than it does to keep the people you already have,” Horton points out. Re-recruiting your current workforce is crucial to stabilizing your recruiting strategy and reducing risk moving into 2021.