If you are an HR director, it’s boom or bust right now when it comes to talent management. Essential businesses are in a hiring frenzy. Others, regrettably, are laying off or furloughing workers.

We hope you are in the former category.

But how do you compete for talent with Walmart, Amazon, Fed-Ex and CVS?

Let’s look at 3 ways creative HR directors are hiring during the COVID-19 crisis.

3 Ways to Hire During the Coronavirus Chaos

1. Partner With Your Customers and Vendors

Are you a talent acquisition specialist for a B2B company? Have any of your customers or vendors recently let employees go? There’s no reason you can’t follow the lead of CVS and source partners’ recently laid off employees. If you are a professional services company, you may have relationships with hundreds of organizations.

CVS is embarking on one of the most ambitious hiring drives in its history with plans to hire 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary workers—and it has decided to tap directly into its customers’ workforces by taking on furloughed workers from the Marriott and Hilton hotel chains. The drugstore chain said it would use a “technology-enabled hiring process that includes virtual job fairs, virtual interviews and virtual job tryouts.” Market Watch

Most SMBs don’t have the resources of CVS but you can use the same techniques on a smaller scale. Talk to colleagues who have business relationships with your partners’ or customers’ recently laid off employees. These may include account managers, event planners, buyers, and supply chain managers.

These potential employees have already been vetted by companies you know and trust. They probably have a favorable view of your company. Passive recruiting is a lot easier when you are trying to source talent that is currently unemployed!

2. Host Virtual Job Fairs

Create an event using chat rooms, video conferencing, company videos, and webinars. Assign each hiring manager a presentation. Enlist your best brand ambassadors (current employees who love your company) to engage with job seekers.

A virtual job or career fair is perfect for attracting both onsite and remote workers. For telecommuting positions, you aren’t limited to job seekers in a geographic radius.

If you are looking for employees in your community, you can tailor the event to a specific demographic. If a local employer just cut workers, be straightforward about targeting their former workforce.

Who do you invite?

Use your applicant tracking system (ATS) to search for resume keywords in your talent database. Chances are, some of these people have recently been laid off. Create a job fair email template in your ATS and email an invitation to qualified candidates in your pipeline. Include a link to your registration page.

Request employee referrals. Each of your employees probably know several people out of work right now. Don’t forget to advertise on your social media sites. Ask your vendors and business partners for referrals. Talk to career counselors at schools in your community. Make the sign-up process fast and easy.

Virtual job fairs speed up hiring

For the recruiter, these events [virtual job fairs] compress the time to first engagement and ultimately the time to hire. Candidates are given the opportunity to engage with an actual recruiter from the company they are interested in on a specific day and time. That’s something you normally don’t have that early in the process. (SHRM)

3. Offer Flexible Schedules

Schools are closed. People are caring for sick family members. Workers need flexible schedules as much as they need steady jobs.

There’s never been a better time to offer flexible and non-traditional schedules—for both onsite, mobile and at-home employees.

Flexible schedules allow smaller companies to compete

Flexible schedules aren’t just an attractive perk for job seekers. They help SMBs be more competitive in multiple ways.

  • Flexible scheduling reduces labor costs
  • Reduced absenteeism increases productivity
  • Engaged employees drive business growth
  • Improved work/life balance helps retain experienced employees

What’s the easiest way to provide flexible work schedules? Cloud-based employee scheduling software is your answer for flex scheduling.

Employee scheduling software lets you create standard schedules in seconds—and flexible schedules in minutes. You create templates for each department, team, or location. You can also create templates for specific shifts or seasons. When the base schedules are in place, it’s easy to drag and drop employees into shifts.

Flexible schedules reduce healthcare employee burnout

Employee burnout is an issue for many industries, especially healthcare. And especially now. When employees have more control of their shifts, they are less likely to suffer psychological stress. Workers with improved mental health are more effective and make fewer mistakes. There’s never been a greater demand for experienced healthcare employees. If you don’t offer flexible schedules, your workforce can easily find positions at competing healthcare employers.

A Refresher Course on Best Practices for Hiring

1. Use an Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking system (ATS) allows you to reach far more candidates and track them through the hiring process with smart automation.

The software manages postings in multiple venues, receives and filters applications, parses resumes, and store applications for future openings. Since preliminary screening is automated, it narrows down applicants to a small pool of promising candidates. An ATS is a smart investment for any small business owner who is serious about competing in today’s job market.

An applicant tracking system doesn’t just make your life easier. It is an important tool for attracting top talent and onboarding them when they are hired.

Did you know that desirable candidates will probably find a job within two weeks? If your application system takes weeks, you are losing quality employees to companies with modern, efficient systems. Job seekers have plenty of options. The best applicants will move on if your recruiting system is antiquated.

2. Rethink Educational Requirements

Many employers have discovered that real-world experience can be more valuable than a degree. In a tight job market, you can’t always get college grads. Consider candidates with tech certifications and applicable work history.

3. Fine Tune Job Descriptions

Enlist your managers and employees to write accurate, detailed job descriptions. These don’t need to sound like they were written by a professional headhunter.

Include the salary range. Many applicants don’t waste their time applying when they don’t know what the job pays. Save yourself time by weeding out candidates who are looking for a higher salary.

When creating job descriptions, lessen the emphasis on qualifications the candidate must possess. Consider what your company can do for the employee. Candidates who respond to a benefits-first approach are often the most ambitious and competent.

You can create, store, and update job descriptions with recruiting software. Centralized access makes it easy for teams to collaborate.

4. Shorten Your Applications

Only the most desperate candidates will struggle through a lengthy application. Carefully-designed applications contain only the essentials. Recruiting software has templates to get you started.

5. Define Your Hiring Criteria

Answer the following questions: 1. Who must sign off on the hire? 2. What specific qualifications are necessary? 3. What is the deadline for making a decision?

6. Treat Applicants Like Customers

We’ve all had bad experiences job hunting. These include automated “we received your resume” emails (or worse) no notification that the company even got your application.

Be clear about the timeline. Keep candidates informed during the entire process. Your hiring methods reflect on your company. Respect your applicants as if they were your customers.

7. Formalize Your Interview Process

Create an interview script and make sure managers follow it. Ensure that it meets anti-discrimination requirements. Workforce management recruiting software helps you create and manage interview scripts. Update the questions as job roles evolve.

Good interviewers don’t dominate the conversation. They let the candidate do most of the talking. Pay close attention to the questions the candidate asks. They will yield valuable insight into the job seeker’s priorities and personality.

8. Monitor Employee Reviews

Have you read the online reviews from current and former employees? Smart employers take them seriously and make changes when necessary. Evaluations by actual employees carry far more weight than your website. Good job candidates do their research. Negative reviews hurt your hiring chances. You can’t remove reviews on most sites, but you can respond to them and describe steps you’ve taken to address the complaints.