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Seven questions recruiters should ask themselves in this record-breaking hiring freeze

(Image credit: Image Credit: Helloquence / Unsplash)

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought hiring in many industries to a virtual standstill. Worse still, the business world is sitting in a state of unprecedented uncertainty. No one can say for sure when companies can return to business as usual. And no one can predict sales volumes once businesses open.

With so many estimates, guesstimates, and assumptions doing the rounds, the most practical advice is to use this time for analysis and planning.

Some industries are still hiring

Retailers and producers of essential products like, hygiene products, healthcare, and pharma, are hiring to meet demand. Both sectors have reported an increase in temporary and permanent hires.

If you’re a recruiter in any essential services industry, you’re probably working overtime to hire to meet the demand. Undoubtedly though, your hiring processes have changed considerably, with minimal contact and telephone or video interviews being the default.

The reality is that going forward, remote hiring will most likely become the norm. Fewer candidates will come in for face-to-face interviews and only successful hires will turn up in person for their first day at work.

If your recruitment process isn’t geared towards remote hiring, now’s the time to get up to speed with HR technology and remote tools to help you become remote-first. Most employers will prefer a remote hiring process. Why? It’s safer, more convenient, less costly, and saves time.

An applicant tracking system is an indispensable tool for recruiters new to hiring remotely. It not only easily integrates with all other tech essentials for remote hiring, but it also greatly improves the three most important remote hiring metrics: time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, and quality-of-hire.

What about the industries that are dormant?

As a recruiter, you’re likely feeling insecure (and perhaps even confused) about what to do next. HR departments are processing lay-offs and notices at an alarming rate. Hiring freeze announcements have been made for the rest of this year by many industries including tech, travel, hospitality, airlines, shipping, oil and gas, and many more.

So how do you continue?

Take a step back. Don’t try to revert back to “business as usual”. It probably won’t work and you’ll end up becoming more anxious and stressed. Look into investing in your own skills. We all have an online course, training that was always put on hold. Now is a good time to go for that extra certification. Also, branch out into other recruitment-related skills (employer branding, HR, etc). This will make you more adaptable, and help face the industry uncertainty.

Seven things to consider about post-pandemic hiring

Accept that things won’t be the same as they were before. Don’t build your plan around the core of how you worked previously. The business will change because people’s expectations, attitudes, and motivations are going to change.

Ask yourself:

How does your industry function?

Do you need the majority of employees to be onsite to trade, for example, manufacturing and oil and gas?

How many employees can work remotely?

Some industries can succeed with a totally remote workforce (Hotjar for one), while others can do well with partial distance working.

Are your policies and system set up to accommodate remote employees?

From contracts to remuneration and allowances for tech equipment, hiring policies will need an overhaul.

How does this impact your company culture?

It’s easy to maintain standards and norms when we’re all in a face to face situation, but when most or part of the team works remotely, things change.

How will role requirements be affected?

Skills and experience might remain unchanged, but attitude and motivations are going to play a more significant role. People analytics measures must be put in place.

Do you have the tools to support employees and new hires through change?

HR is going to play a significant role in helping people transition to the inevitable changes. Recruiters must be able to recognise the best talent for individual roles more than ever before.

How must you adapt your onboarding processes? Onboarding is essential to retain any new hire, but if you’re hiring remote workers, it’s even more important. Intensive onboarding must begin before the start date and continue for about 2 to 3 months, tapering off gradually as the team lead takes over.

Collaborate with HR executives, hiring managers, and decision-makers as much as possible while going through these questions. Start out with some process mapping and come up with a solid plan of how you’ll approach hiring from now on.

Should you be looking for talent now?


Many are anxious and stressed right now, and some of the main insecurities are their jobs, income, and careers. The market is full of talent. Knowing that they will find employment again, or can change jobs will give people a degree of hope.

Get online and start building your talent pool according to your new recruitment process map. Divide your talent pool into onsite employees and remote workers. Focus your onsite search in the area where your business or various sites are located. When you start hiring remote workers, you can source top talent from anywhere across the globe.

How to connect with candidates without creating expectations

This is where your people skills and professionalism as a recruiter come into play. In a time of crisis, it can be easy to create expectations without having something real to offer. And that can lead to tricky and negative experiences.

Be totally transparent in all communication with online connections. Tell them that their skills and experience are right in line with what your company needs, but currently there’s a freeze on new hires. Despite this, things will improve again, and there will definitely be future vacancies.

Ask potential candidates if they’d be willing to share more details of their experience and career aspirations with you. Many people are at home, so hop onto a quick video chat if they’re a perfect fit for your company. In all instances, request permission to add them to your talent pool and ask if you can keep in touch occasionally (and make sure you do if they agree).

No one can say how the business world will look a year from now, but a genuine employer brand won’t fade. Open communication, transparency, empathy and honest interest in your profession are what makes a good recruiter.

Being proactive now will ensure that you have a strong (and diverse) talent pipeline when we all get back to working and growing our careers.

Adrie Smith, Head of Content and Branding, Recruitee

Adrie is the Head of Content and Branding at Recruitee, where she is responsible for one of Europe’s leading Recruitment blogs. She also hosts the Recruitee webinar and TA Radio.