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How to Recruit in a Crisis

  • by: Jonny Kramer
  • On: 23, Mar 2020
5 min read

Whether during global impacts like the coronavirus, brand damage through negative PR or devastation caused by natural disasters, your business needs to keep running, and your employees need to be safe and engaged. Here’s how to recruit in a crisis.

5 Ways to Find Staff in Difficult Times

1. Get Referrals

Referrals are overwhelmingly the best source of new recruits: one in 16 referred candidates is hired (compared with one in 152 applicants who apply for the average job).

The best ambassadors of your company are those who already work there. Your existing employees understand the culture and benefits of the workplace, will be able to provide a unique insight that will appeal to potential colleagues in their demographics, and will be supportive of your plans to keep their employer going through difficult periods of change.

Business leaders can encourage their staff to provide referrals through:

· Appreciation – A little recognition goes a long way. Saying private and public thank yous to workers will make them feel more valued and more likely to recommend their employer as a great place to work. Employee engagement programmes that offer company-wide benefits are easy to set up and can be scaled up or down according to cost and size of the business. Engaged employees are motivated, productive and more likely to stay with their company during tough times, and will also be ready and willing to help the company with referrals when crisis situations arrive.

· Gamifying – Design a competition where the person with the highest numbers of referrals, or most amount of candidates placed with the company, wins small prizes or benefits such as holidays, leaving an hour early or a free lunch. The cost of these prizes will be well below the £30,000 cost of recruiting one new employee on average. Put up a leader board to encourage colleagues to continue their efforts over days and weeks.

· Social Media – This option requires very little effort from your employees but provides a wealth of potential referrals for your HR and recruitment teams. Send out an email asking your workforce to copy and paste good quality LinkedIn groups that could hold potential candidates or ask them to connect your HR department with referrals directly on social channels for a fast and personal approach.

· Host a Referral Day – Run a dedicated meeting with key members of staff across departments and use this to brainstorm referrals and ways of retrieving referrals from the rest of their teams. Provide lunch/refreshments and hold this meeting in external training rooms or meeting rooms usually reserved for executives to send the message that referrals are of key importance and inspire staff to be creative.

2. Adapt Your Internal Processes

Urgent recruitment projects can be significantly more successful with a few simple adaptations. Business must make it as easy as possible for potential jobseekers to apply for their roles.

Look at your existing recruitment processes to quickly identify what stages you can remove or adapt to hasten your hiring. Is a University degree in a specific subject necessary for the duties of the role? Does your candidate need to submit a company-specific application form, or can they simply submit their own CV or certification? Do you really need three or more stages of interviews?

Consider Phone or Skype interviews instead of face-to-face meetings, which will not only ensure you can fit more interviews into each day, but also speed up the entire process. Partial or full home working will not only help new recruits to start adding value to your business right away, but encourage applicants from different backgrounds around the world who will no longer face barriers such as location or cost of travel.

Flexible recruitment processes will also accommodate diverse groups or demographics that your business may not have worked with before, such as people with a range of disabilities or single parents, and make it easier for them to apply to work with you.

3. Recruit from Other Industries

Many technical and Engineering vocations involve skills that can be adapted to other industries in similar fields. Although many technicians lost their jobs in fields such as Aviation and Automotive due to lack of demand following the coronavirus outbreak, their skill sets and experience are ideally suited to making desperately needed ventilators for hospital use.

The UK government in particular are calling for the following skill sets: manufacturing; general engineering; design; prototyping; product assembly; logistics; certification; regulation; testing. We have a wealth of engineers available to make ventilators or use their wide range of knowledge and skills for other urgently needed projects.

Highly skilled Engineers will benefit from the same things – flexible working and shift patterns, opportunity to travel and career progression – across Aerospace, Aviation, Motorsport, Automotive, Marine and other technical sectors. With the potential to learn new skills and become officially certified even easier thanks to Online Aviation Training courses and Government investment in the industry,

4. Engage Diverse Talent Pools

Diverse talent pools present the greatest opportunity to harness unprecedented skills and experience, as well as addressing the shortage of engineers and technicians that has plagued industries globally for the past decade. Only 8% of the current engineering workforce is female, and despite students of ethnic minority accounting for 25% of university engineering graduates, only 6% of them go into engineering careers.

At the current level of underrepresentation, companies in technical fields will have to work fast to attract greater numbers of minority groups into different roles. Whilst the vast majority of employers do not consciously operate discriminatory recruitment or working practices, many business leaders are unable to or unaware of how they can reach diverse talent pools.

Diverse talent pools can be accessed quickly by:

· Running an employer marketing campaign that directly speaks to diverse groups in a sensitive, personal way. Speaking with diverse recruitment companies or creative agencies could help deliver a successful campaign.

· Advertising in channels that you have not advertised in before but that attract and engage diverse audiences directly. For example, look at Facebook LinkedIn groups for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) or LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Engineers, message boards such as Mumsnet for single parents and popular blogs and YouTube channels aimed at people with disabilities who work within your industry.

· Gaining referrals from diverse employees in your business (who will be able to recommend your business as a good employer who values diverse groups).

· Teaming up with a well-known union or network for diverse groups to advertise, speak to and engage with their thousands of diverse members.

5. Partner with Specialist Support

During mergers and acquisitions or turnaround situations, many companies recruit interim executives or managers to lead an emergency project. As highly skilled resources who are extensively experienced in particular industries and types of projects, interims are best placed to step in and hit the ground running with fast solutions. A dedicated interim Project Manager can relieve many burdens from business leaders when managing a crisis situation, with the short-term costs of recruiting this temporary support being significantly outweighed by the long-term value they bring.

Businesses can also shoulder the burdens of hiring, onboarding, administration and workforce planning by connecting with a specialist staffing agency. Engaging with a recruitment company that specialises in your field can offer insight into the wants, needs and situations of the talent that you want to attract, and how to capitalise on these to engage your audience. Specialist recruitment consultants can help business leaders to build a picture of what will best appeal to potential talent pools and create a bespoke plan to reach potential candidates as fast and affectively as possible.


Find out how VHR can help you with an urgent recruitment project.

Discover How Recruiting Will Change Globally in 2020.

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