Aplin Group Blog

The pandemic hasn't disrupted recruiting and hiring as much as it has accelerated existing trends.
Three significant shifts have been accelerated by COVID-19’s realities, but they began before 2020. Suppose we want to emerge as an employer of choice for top talent, irrespective of our industry. In that case, we need to make sure that we're positioning ourselves and the careers we offer to be attractive moving into the coming economic recovery. In this blog, we summarize the findings shared by Lauren Smith in the HBR IdeaCast podcast titled 'New Recruiting Strategies for a Post-Covid World'.
Shift One: The evolution of necessary skills
The pace at which we work has changed, making it challenging for us to define job descriptions accurately. Skillsets have been evolving pre-pandemic, but the reality is that this is now universal. Organizations have had to shift to virtual environments, and even those that have employees on-site currently require social distancing and new types of technology and automation.

This skill review process must move away from looking back to the most recent individual who may have just had this role. These assumptions are backward-looking and not positioning your team or your employees for future growth.

What are the emerging, evolving, and expiring skills that we need for this role?
1. Emerging skills can be new requirements that develop as the business or the team is changing to meet unique client demands.

2. Expiring skills are those that the last employee utilized to be successful but aren't as important anymore.

3. Evolving skills are the essential processes we will always do but are now done differently due to WFH or other trends/shifts?

An opening on your team can also be a teambuilding activity. Employers can now ask the team to help redefine the role when a role becomes available. The team can be more in touch with the actual work that needs to get done. They can also identify significant parts of the job description that are outdated, and this helps better define the role. It was also a highly engaging activity for the team.
We need to build the future workforce, not just replace the workforce we had. One of the differentiators can be a commitment to bringing the conversation back to what we need as an organization.

Shift Two: Dispersion of skills beyond traditional or predictable talent pools
Where we have found talent in the past may not reward us in the future. The move to remote work means that organizations don't have to source candidates based on their headquarters' proximity. Talent pools are now open in a way that can be game-changing for organizations. We no longer need to source around us, but we can source around where talent is. The dynamic changes the calculation for candidates as well, and we will discuss this more in the third shift.

One reason for momentum to look beyond traditional talent pools is that successful organizations today focus on advancing their workforce diversity. It's essential to audit the current hiring process to identify where diverse candidates are being excluded. We recommend you create journey maps of different candidate profiles to understand where there may be challenges.

Finally, review how you treat and communicate with your internal talent. Your internal talent is sometimes excluded because they weren't aware of the opportunities. Other examples can include candidate screening because of educational requirements listed on a job description. Finally, diverse talent segments can be excluded given the nature of our expectations of a consistent career path that may not include immigration, incarceration, military experience, or family commitments.

Shift Three: Rising candidate career expectations
The third trend that research has uncovered is that candidates are increasingly selective about whom they are willing to consider for their careers. Candidate expectations for a career require organizations to rethink how they're branding jobs and then sell them in the labour market. The pandemic has changed the labour market and the hiring power dynamics, and we know that candidates today expect flexibility. They expect a feeling of autonomy. Candidates increasingly expect companies to offer them competitive compensation and benefits and a compelling employee experience.

Employees have now experienced designing their own work lives. This work experience includes new ways of fitting their job into their life with the danger of a global pandemic. Candidates are less likely to want to give up this new autonomy even if they eventually return to an in-person work environment. To attract top candidates today, employers need to offer a more humanized work experience focusing on candidates as people. Talking to them about how working for your organization can improve their life, not just employee experience.

Increasingly, the pandemic's realities mean that employers are working from home, often with small children or their family obligations. The truth is that organizations need to continue to understand not just what their employees want but what do the people around the employees need. Organizations think about this in several ways, whether it be opening development opportunities to an employee's family or providing specific benefits for parents with children. As organizations have implemented these benefits, it's going to be very challenging to unwind.
Common questions I hear from candidates are 'what happened in the first few months of the pandemic at this organization?', 'What did the organization do in terms of stopping hiring or changing the nature of work?' and 'What are the safety precautions they're taking for those that are on-site?’

For some roles with knowledge work, this may mean enabling candidates to continue to design their work around life. For others, where flexibility may look slightly different, you still need to think about how you will enable candidates, or employees, to have the flexibility to fit their work in life. Scheduling flexibility is a great way. We've seen many organizations think about this for hourly employees; for instance, significant trends are what we've come to think of as deeper connections.


David Aplin Group is a private family and employee-owned Canadian staffing agency founded in Alberta in 1975, recognized as one of Canada's most accomplished recruiting firms. Our mission is to positively impact lives.  Blog author, Ryan Vanjoff, is a Principal Consultant in Executive Search at David Aplin Group, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Photo by AndreyPopov