With COVID-19 keeping many campuses closed and air travel remaining at a near standstill, employers are uncertain about what will happen this fall recruiting season.
If things don’t quite go back to normal — which is looking increasingly likely — operating in the new landscape will require employers, students and schools to explore unfamiliar options to prepare for any barriers.
Fall 2020 is going to be the most atypical fall recruiting season early talent teams have ever experienced.
A new approach to recruiting
Recruiting teams must prepare a contingency plan that incorporates an entirely new fall recruiting approach. With traditional solutions simply not cutting it, employers are looking for an approach to recruiting that leverages interest from qualified talent pools while enabling the same levels of engagement they typically achieve with on-campus recruiting.
Employers need to adopt a strategy that responds to the plans and needs of students and higher ed institutions. As your early talent recruiting teams work through challenging questions around this year’s fall recruiting, here are four steps to help COVID-19-proof your fall recruiting playbook:
1. Move beyond your core schools approach this fall recruiting season
The golden age of on-campus events may be over, at least for now. Instead of reusing travel and entertainment budgets to fly your team and company representatives out to your partner schools, take this opportunity to reach the huge pool of qualified talent online.
With more than 2,400 four-year colleges in the US, there are many qualified candidates in the schools beyond your core list.
Many of those thousands of college students and recent grads have the right backgrounds and skills to match your talent profiles and become your future leaders.
In fact, they represent a more diverse pool of prospects than the students you typically engage with in your backyard or at your core schools.
2. Proactively find candidates that match your talent profiles
Identify your talent profiles first. If you’re hiring a product manager, for example, you’ll want to look for talent with a business major and demonstrable skills including project management and interpersonal communication.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to consider new ways of working. Thanks to available technology recent grads can use to both find and do their jobs from anywhere, you don’t have to sacrifice fit for location.
So, even with the core recruiting model broken, you can leverage this opportunity to be even more connected with talent — regardless of where they go to school or who they know.
3. Shift your on-campus events to virtual events, info sessions, and panels
While there’s no surefire way to replicate visual cues exchanged in-person, you can cut costs this fall by replicating many components of in-person engagement with a digital experience to generate meaningful interest from early talent.
Virtual events aren’t new — they’ve influenced employers like IBM to tap into candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, and remain obvious choices in engaging the emerging college talent generation, which grew up on technology, social media and mobile phones.
Now that the coronavirus pandemic is forcing employers to go digital, however, virtual events are a critical component of your recruiting toolkit. If you haven’t hosted one already, we strongly advise you host one soon. The novel coronavirus isn’t going to stop disrupting our personal and work lives anytime soon and you absolutely must master these new recruiting tools and processes.
4. Allow your employer brand to work for you
Employer branding has come a long way in the last few decades.
It used to be that potential candidates would know your organization’s brand reputation primarily through word-of-mouth.
Talent had to connect the dots to figure out what it might be like to work for you — researching your leadership team or examining your latest regulatory filings or advertising campaign, for example.
But nowadays, there are multiple digital tools available to help tell your company’s story. To do this well, companies need to build out your brand presence in multiple places — starting with our own websites, of course.
But you need to also be on verticalized job platforms where your target audience is looking for insight into your culture, benefits and compensation and other details about working for you.
Share your values
At its core, your employer brand is a reflection of your values. Whether you’re hiring early talent, pausing hiring, or engaging with candidates through project-based work, how you’re responding to hiring during COVID-19 will help define your employer brand.
Students are looking to prospective employers for support during this unprecedented and difficult time, so provide them with as much insight into your culture as you can.
Opportunity out of crisis
Whether you are hiring during this fall recruiting season or waiting for more clarity, all employers still have an opportunity to meaningfully influence – and attract — the next generation of rising innovators.
The silver lining here is that, for many organizations, early talent recruiting will be reaching beyond geographical barriers and traditional target schools. Finding your next generation of leaders is no longer constrained by geographic limitations or limited to existing relationships.
Need more information?
Join training and guidance expert Michelle Coussens for our in-depth workshop, Managing Change in the Workplace: How to Cultivate an Agile Team, live on July 30, then available on-demand.
In this 60-minute workshop, you’ll learn how to use strategic incremental sprints and micro goals to develop adaptable employees. You’ll learn:
- How to identify and rid your workplace of fear-based thinking
- Steps to map and realign roles and responsibilities in real time
- Tools to assess organizational health and status in line with evolving internal and external changes
- Tips to optimize momentum while avoiding excessive stress