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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across sectors have implemented  hiring freezes and paused active talent recruitment efforts. While these measures immediately impact HR operations, they also provide space for recruiters and other talent management professionals to rethink their approach to engaging with new potential candidates—and maintaining contact with people they were in the process of evaluating for open job opportunities.

Regardless of whether or not your company has implemented a hiring freeze, adopted a slower pace, or is actively recruiting, you may find yourself with an opportunity to focus on learning and development to improve your recruitment efforts. Here are five things HR professionals should consider during a hiring freeze. 

Finding Future Candidates (Honestly)

Don’t be the recruiter who sends out emails and LinkedIn messages advertising jobs that aren’t actively available. It’s a deceitful and unfortunately common practice, and can tarnish a professional relationship with future candidates. Instead, work to connect with people who may be a good fit for your company—someday. And be honest about your goal; don’t hide the fact that conversations are exploratory.

This is the type of networking that will pay off in the long run. When the hiring freeze lifts, you have established relationships with potential candidates and you’ll be able to fill open job opportunities quickly. 

Recommended first step: Connect to people who appear to have relevant experience and showcase potential for specific jobs on their LinkedIn profiles, and if they post updates, interact with them there.

Succession Planning

Depending on how your business recovers from the COVID pandemic, it may be a long time before you have the budget to hire external candidates. But, you’ll still need to meet business needs. 

Internal mobility is one way to fill gaps. Hiring internal talent benefits your business by eliminating the need for an external hire, and  also helps your employees who might be itching for a career change. Now is the time to look at your talent pool to determine which employees have an interest and skills to move into new roles. Consider asking your employees to update their resumes, so you have a better idea of their current skill sets and growth opportunities.

Recommended first step: Let your employees know you want to help advance their career goals and ask them to provide current information about their skills, interests and potential career moves. It might come across as surprising, but everyone will benefit from the level of transparency and sharing created by opening this channel.

Revise Your Onboarding Program

There isn’t an onboarding program out there that can’t stand to be improved. Are your onboarding documents, resources and presentations up to date? Are your onboarding policies in compliance with federal, state and local laws? Is the onboarding process for new hires streamlined, or are people receiving contradictory information? These are key questions to consider.

Recommended first step: Gather all your onboarding documents and see what can be improved or nixed. And keep in mind that new hires are brand new—be as clear as you can about your company’s approach to work and their specific role throughout the onboarding process.

Cross-Train Yourself

Within HR, you’re likely to spend so much of your time thinking about other people and how you can help other departments succeed. In the process, efforts to engineer the career advancement of HR professionals and outfit the department with modern tools to help recruit, retain and retrain talent can fall by the wayside. Even if the responsibility falls squarely on you, it’s crucial to take the time to do a skills evaluation on yourself and other HR colleagues to expose where your gaps are—and design a plan to close them. Now is the time to rethink your HR team to make it an even more significant asset to the core business.

Recommended first step: Take a look at learning and development opportunities that might help address skills gaps. Consider investing in a learning management system that delivers skills and training resources that help advance employee career goals and meet your company’s most pressing talent needs.

Paperwork and Reporting

You knew this was coming, and I apologize, but it is crucial. Some reports, including employee salary history and benefits, are required by law, and (of course) you always do those, but they may not be easy to get done on time. If you have a bit of time now, work on automating those reports so when the deadline approaches, you can get them done in a snap.

Have you developed metrics that illustrate your return on investment for retention programs? What is your cost-per-hire? What metrics make the most sense for your business? Take the time to understand what parameters work and how to develop a complementary set of reports that you can present throughout the year.

Recommended first step: Identify reports that will help your company see the return on investment in recruiting and help keep you organized throughout the year.

If recruiting is just a small part of your job, you may only have time to take one or two of these actions, but don’t let that make you feel overwhelmed. Every action you take makes your company a better place to work. That’s a vital function of the HR department.

There is no doubt that 2020 has changed the way we work. While you’re trying to adapt to the new normal, looking at your organization’s long-term trajectory in this environment is likely top of mind. Learn how Cornerstone can help your organization thrive in the COVID-era and beyond