Deserted city streets, facemasks and working from home were unthinkable at the start of 2020. But now they are part of our lives due to the pandemic. The outbreak was an extremely disruptive and unexpected event that has resulted in economic turmoil. Naturally, it’s had a profound impact on the recruitment industry and led to the biggest hiring shake up in Switzerland’s history.
Let’s start with a brief recap of events. At the start of the pandemic, most companies in Switzerland froze hiring. Interestingly, they did it not because they wanted to – many were still short of skilled staff going into the lockdown. However, there was so much uncertainty and unknowns at the time that they had to put hiring plans on hold.
The result was pent-up demand for high-quality talent, which was unleashed once the lockdown ended. Yet despite the surge in recruitment activity, this was not a return to normal. Recruitment had changed dramatically.
As a candidate, you are now likely to be recruited virtually
Nearly every aspect of the hiring process, from recruiting to onboarding, has changed. For most candidates, this is to be expected in a world of social distancing and remote working. It means they will need to adapt to this new format quickly and rethink what they are after in their next position.
In many instances, face-to-face interviews have now been replaced with Zoom video conference calls. Although the candidate can visibly see the interviewer and vice versa, the experience will be very different. Subtleties such as body language and attire are more difficult to observe in an interview. The setting is also different – candidates are inviting the interviewer into their own home.
It's an interesting process. If the candidate is thoughtful enough, they can use this to their advantage by presenting an image to the interviewer that they might like to see. For instance, they could show a warm loving family home in the background and demonstrate their ability to communicate well via video.
Video conferencing is now, therefore, a very important part of the recruitment process. I’ve heard of some instances where skilled workers have been video interviewed and hired without ever meeting their employer in person. Although this is still rare, it is a sign of the changes we are now experiencing.
Employers also need to adapt to this new environment
Switching jobs right now introduces a lot of uncertainty for candidates. The interview process, therefore, is an important place for an employer to market themselves – It’s where their employer brand really matters.
During the interview process, candidates will scrutinize their future employer in ways that might have been unforeseen previously. For instance, they will want to know how willing and flexible a company will be when it comes to accommodating remote working. The quality of the technology and their ability to work with other team members fluidly in a remote setting will also be important.
What interests them, therefore, might be less about corporate cars and company canteens, and more about their work-life balance. This is a very real trend that companies now need to consider. To prove this point the Financial Times reported that LinkedIn saw a 60% rise in the volume of its users searching specifically for remote working opportunities after lockdowns ended across major economies.
Onboarding candidates virtually will have its challenges
Part of the difficulty Swiss companies face is how to help candidates fit in once they have been virtually recruited. This is because they will need to be orientated in a virtual setting. Making them visible within the company in a remote setting is another difficulty. There is a rapport that needs nurturing with their team members, such as office banter, which might be difficult to do over video.
Helping a new hire feel part of the team will also require a constant flow of information, clear directives, and strong leadership. It will also need a great level of trust in a remote setting, plus an appreciation of their candidate’s credentials and their ability to manage different personalities and relationships within the company.
In this environment, some Swiss companies will flourish and embrace this new recruiting culture. They will take full advantage of the changes that are taking place and embrace the new technologies and working practices that come with it.
It’s true that remote working will change the recruitment process considerably. But it is up to the candidate and companies to adapt and take full advantage of these changes.