This article was published in May 2020.

Most industries have experienced an abrupt and sharp recent downturn, in turn causing big changes for talent acquisition. With many organizations significantly reducing the amount of hiring during the pandemic – and health concerns driving additional changes – HR and TA teams have responded and adapted to operate in this current phase.

As business leaders begin to look ahead and consider what’s next, now is the time to plan how your organization will adapt. The economy will rebound, and companies will return to more typical production and hiring levels. But things won’t return to exactly the way they were pre-pandemic for years – if they do at all. Changes to how we recruit developed out of urgent need during the pandemic can bring about permanent adjustments. Below are five predictions for talent markets and recruiting after the pandemic.

1. Employers will see a wave of some types of available talent when economic recovery and hiring ramp up.

The economic impact of the pandemic has been massive. After months and years of unemployment rates at or near record lows in many parts of the world, tens of millions have lost their jobs within a few months in the first half of 2020. Where companies were recently fighting to win the top talent in scarce, competitive talent markets, they may still find that talent is tough to find – and now more cautious about job changes. However, where companies were competing in the hourly talent space with bonuses, perks and higher hourly pay, they may find that talent is now more readily available than before.

For now, the amount of available talent has exploded for some industries and roles – but many companies aren’t in a position to hire. When businesses are ready to “hit the gas” again as recovery starts, talent will be key. Companies will need to have the right talent on board to drive the rebound and growth in a way that will set the business up for long-term success. And with many people available and looking for jobs right now, hiring will come back around as the economy recovers, with candidates available to fill key front line positions. It’ll be up to effective recruiting teams to sort through the masses to find the very top talent for their organizations.

2. The new comfort with remote working will broaden employers’ talent pools.

One of the hot topics in the HR world right now is the shift of opinions about remote working. “With this monumental challenge comes a great opportunity,” said Alison Hallett, Director of Global Employee Experience at Cielo. “If organizations implement remote working effectively, we can learn to adopt remote working as standard rather than as a temporary measure.”

To this point, a virtual/remote workforce has existed mostly as a privilege for many organizations. Hiring managers have become more comfortable with virtual working software, and the best TA organizations will leverage this adoption to increase the use of virtual hiring tools like video interviews and virtual onboarding. Over time, companies and managers will grow more and more comfortable with the prospect of this as a permanent option. “If hiring managers are willing, once they’ve seen remote work, we’ll broaden the talent market,” said Anne Bucher, Senior Vice President – Customer Experience at Cielo. “Where before they said ‘No, they need to sit with me in the same building,’ many of these managers will be more comfortable with their employees working just about anywhere.”

If hiring managers are more willing to allow remote working, the number of potential candidates for any given job increases. Geography becomes less of a qualifier if working remotely is an option. And even for the companies or teams that are hesitant to support full-time remote working but are more comfortable with a hybrid approach – such as a couple of days on-site per week – this can make a lengthy commute less of a detractor for candidates and increase the chances they would consider the job.

3. Larger talent pools won’t automatically make recruiting easier.

It could be tempting to follow the logic that because there are a lot of available candidates, filling positions with the right talent will be easier. Especially compared to recent years when unemployment was low and job seekers could be much choosier. But when your organization is ready to ramp up in recovery, bringing the top talent aboard won’t be completely straightforward. As HR thought leader Josh Bersin says, the global pandemic is causing a big reset. We’re all reconsidering approaches to life, business and working. And the ways we recruit will likewise be different after the pandemic, and forward-thinking organizations will take this opportunity to reassess their TA strategy and processes.

4. Technology innovation will continue to change how we engage candidates.

Recruiters and hiring managers are growing more comfortable with technology in the recruiting process. Moving forward, they will need to keep open minds about using technology, automation and virtual solutions that might not even exist yet.

“There’s been a lot of money invested in HR tech solutions in recent years,” said Chase Wilson, Senior Vice President – Solutions and Product Innovation at Cielo. “Much of this was related to the shifts in consumer behavior impacting expectations for candidate experience even prior to the pandemic. There will likely be another boom of tech developed for our adjusted way of working.” Wilson believes this will lead to “tech chaos,” with many HR technologies pivoting, merging or exiting in response to the market. “TA teams will need to sort through this and build technology stacks that resemble Jenga towers of point solutions that constantly shift and overlap.”

As new tech is created and different approaches are put in place, TA teams will also figure out what the best candidate experience looks like. With more and more tools at the disposal of TA and hiring managers, communication with candidates should be easier to do well. But it will be important to figure out the right balance and level of contact. During the pandemic, the recruiting process is contact-free for most organizations, as far as in-person interaction goes. Creating optimal experiences will depend on finding the right mix between automation, virtual communication and in-person interaction.

“TA after the pandemic will likely be a mix between what we used to do and what we’re doing during the pandemic,” said Bucher. “With a greater pool of talent to sort through, what are you changing to make sure the top talent is yours? And how are you measuring quality throughout the process now that the process is changed?”

5. Employers and TA will – more than ever – need to build trust to win top talent.

Trust has always been important for recruiting and employer brands. During the pandemic, candidates and job seekers need to feel assured by an organization’s leadership. The pandemic has created a need for leaders and managers to support their people in ways beyond what’s typical. Josh Bersin predicts the current shift in management styles to prioritize empathy, compassion and understanding will have an impact on leadership approaches in the long run. This shift will need to stick around for employer brands, too. Health, safety and security will be priorities for job seekers more than ever before. Employer value propositions will be critical for attracting the best available talent and helping passive candidates feel more comfortable with the risk of changing jobs in an uncertain economy. The companies that build trust with candidates – and help them to feel comfortable and cared for – will win top talent and have a leg up on the competition when the economy rebounds.

Preparing for Future Success

Exactly what the future has in store is unique for every organization and industry. But TA leaders will have a significant influence on what the future looks like for recruiting and the world of work. Using now as an opportunity to assess your existing processes can help you to identify areas ripe for improvement. And by looking ahead, your TA function can adjust to focus on what will matter in the future in addition to what matters now – and set your organization up for sustained talent success. With Cielo’s visibility across 150+ TA departments, we can put our experience and insights to work and partner with you to plan and design your strategy for moving forward.


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