The new normal: tips for hiring during the global lockdown
As we adjust to this new normal, the only thing we know is that nothing is normal at all.
Covid-19 has, in a matter of weeks, changed everything about the way we live. Never have the words ‘difficult’ and ‘unprecedented’ felt so relevant and yet so woefully inadequate.
In the two weeks since the UK’s lockdown began, over 950,000 people applied for Universal Credit – an almost ten-fold increase compared to a ‘normal’ fortnight – and more than 9 million workers are expected to be furloughed.
There are no words to accurately describe everything that’s happening right now. But in these indescribable times, life goes on. We’re learning new skills and taking up hobbies. Our gardens have never looked so good. Dogs are so happy to have us home, they’re spraining their tails from wagging them too much. There are rainbows in windows and posties in fancy dress.
So as we get used to life in lockdown, the question we’re all asking is ‘how can I help?’
As recruiters, you’re in a unique position to help provide security and hope. Whilst many of you will be in the middle of a hiring freeze right now, for others, hiring will be continuing or even increasing for the next few months.
So if you are hiring at the moment, how should you adapt your recruitment marketing strategies to respond to Covid 19? Here are our top three tips for continued hiring in today’s strange world.
Don’t carry on as normal – review your hiring communications and workflows
It’s not ‘business as usual’ and your comms need to reflect this. Your workflows, email communications and job adverts need to reference the current situation, and the uncertainty and anxiety people are feeling.
Ploughing on with your standard recruiting processes and content will make you seem uncaring, uninformed and ignorant. And who wants to work for that company? Review your automated emails and inbox auto-replies – these are easily forgotten about and could be at best, out of touch, or at worst, insensitive and incorrect.
You need to go above and beyond to show people that you’re there for them, you’ll support them and help them feel secure. Clarity over practical matters, like interview processes, business continuity plans and your social distancing implementation will help.
But the biggest thing you can do is show jobseekers that you value them. That their role is important and you recognise their bravery in moving forward with a new role at this time. Be candid. Tell people how this role impacts the organization’s success right now. Recognise that times are uncertain, but that you’re committed to their future at your company.
Be (even more) human
The last thing jobseekers need right now is corporate babble.
Even at the best of times, the language we use in our job advertising and recruitment marketing is overly complicated, wordy and formal. We recently analysed the average reading age of 8,500 UK job adverts and found that 1/8 were more difficult to read than Darwin’s Origin of Species.
Across the board, the average reading age for a UK job posting is 18. That doesn’t mean that anyone aged 18 can read it. It means you need a university education just to understand it.
Practically, it means that our language is way too complicated. Our sentences are too long, our phrasing too convoluted and our words too formal.
It may sound like a small thing, but poor readability is another barrier to application for candidates. Improving the reading age of your recruitment advertising content has been proven to increase conversion rates by 37%, ordinarily.
In these extra-ordinary times, you need to remove all unnecessary barriers and blockers from your recruitment process. Starting at the top of the funnel with your job advertising copy will help you attract more qualified and more diverse candidates.
You should aim to reduce the reading age of your job advertising and recruitment marketing to 14, by shortening sentences and reducing word length. This is a comfortable reading age for around 75% of the UK’s population.
Make your onboarding extra-special
Starting a new job should be exciting, but it can also be full of nerves and social anxiety. For some people, this will be compounded by the prospect of working from home full time; by being around new people while social distancing; or by the added pressure of the pandemic on their daily lives.
If you’re onboarding new starters during the lockdown, think about how you can help ease these pressures and give your new colleagues a warm welcome.
Whilst little gestures like delivering a welcome pack, assigning buddies and hosting virtual networking opportunities will be valued, the most important thing you can do for new employees is start a conversation.
It can be difficult to ask for flexible work arrangements, additional equipment or even days off when you’re new to a role. These things are more important than ever right now. Ask new starters directly if they need to work flexibly or need any additional support.
Be specific with your questions and make sure to ask again when they’ve settled in more. People may not tell the whole truth when they’re brand new to a role, so make sure you ask twice.
As we make our way through the next few months, hiring may be bottom of your priority list, and that’s fine. But for those of you that are recruiting, hopefully these tips will help you adapt your recruitment marketing comms to continue hiring in the next few months.