I was recently interviewed by our long-time marketing partner, Keka DasGupta, about HR and recruiting lessons that our industry has learned from this COVID-19 pandemic. I must admit, even after being in this line of work, that I absolutely love, for more than two decades, some developments over the past year still surprised me. You can catch the full interview here on YouTube.
One year ago, when we were just novices in lockdowns practices, hiring abruptly halted across Canada while everyone tried to wrap their heads around what was happening. At that time, Keka and I connected via Zoom to examine what HR, recruitment and hiring managers could do, in that moment, to make it through the pandemic.
Much of those insights are still very applicable today, but now we can see our next steps with a lens of deeper wisdom and experience. And I have to say, with vaccinations giving us hope for the near future, our team foresees exciting times ahead in recruitment. As author Caryn Sullivan so aptly said, “In the face of adversity, we have a choice. We can be bitter, or we can be better. Those words are my North Star.”
Caryn, they are our North Star too!
If you’d like a quick cheat sheet summary of what I covered in my interview with Keka – essentially, what HR, hiring managers and recruiters need to know, right now. Here you go:
- The skills gap is (still) real: Before the start of this pandemic, it was a jobseeker’s market in Canada when it came to Bilingual/French talent and unilingual candidates too. We were seeing bidding wars from employers for top candidates. Finding talented and skilled, French-speaking applicants for specific positions felt like we were looking for a needle in a haystack! This pandemic prompted many companies to temporarily pause on their hiring efforts, while fear of uncertainty has caused many would-be jobseekers to put off their searches for now as well. The key point to consider here is – once we overcome this virus, and life and work start resuming normal schedules, this skills gap will remain as a stark reality for all those in the hiring field. Nothing will have changed in that regard. We will be returning to life where bidding wars for top talent becomes our norm again.
- From perk to pre-requisite – why working from home (WFH) is here to stay: To be honest, this one surprised me to some extent, in terms of how quickly people latched onto the WFH way of doing business. Many clients who would have NEVER dreamed of entertaining work-from-home arrangements pre-pandemic, are now coming to me saying, they are big believers of it. In fact, many are saying, their employees are happier and more productive as a result of having this flexibility. Employees too have gotten a taste of this perceived elixir – a balanced work lifestyle. And the vast majority refuse to go back to the way it used to be. Moving forward, WFH flexibility will be considered a baseline from which to work. If companies don’t offer this in their post-pandemic world, they will absolutely lose out on the best talent out there.
- Transparent communications of COVID-19 protocols and future planning is beyond critical today: Of course, this is a best practice, generally-speaking, on any given day. But today, this is no longer a nice-to-have way of operating. Candidates are asking us on a daily basis right now: Can they do their job interviews virtually? Will they have to go back into the office right now or can they work from home? How about post-pandemic – what work structure will the company adopt then? What are their back-to-work plans for the future? If companies can’t answer these questions for their employees, they will lose their best people. And if they can’t answer these questions for would-be job candidates right now, those candidates will walk away immediately too.
- The key to hiring success right now is all about tapping into the passive jobseeker market: Right now, we are seeing that employees are still feeling trepidation about changing jobs. Fear around the uncertainty of things is keeping these would-be jobseekers grounded. This is why the age-old “post and pray” strategy is ineffective today. Companies are not attracting the right, qualified Bilingual/French candidates on their own. What is working right now is – seeing returns from a well-cultivated recruiter network. Based on the relationships we’ve worked so hard to nurture with potential Bilingual/French talent, we as recruiters are proactively approaching people who may already be employed elsewhere, to gage their interest in opportunities from our client. These passive job candidates are not searching for new employment otherwise. Right now, we are all in a calm before the storm scenario, and this is the time to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to hiring Bilingual/French talent. As soon as the economy starts to open up again, we anticipate a lot of movement coming from employees. It’s going to get very busy!
The greatest take-away in all of this is as follows: If you are planning to make some Bilingual/French hires down the road, it is critically important for you to start taking action today. Tap into a great recruiter’s enviable network of candidate contacts to secure the best talent now. While a lot of changes took place this past year, more changes are inevitably coming our way. It’s an exciting time to be in recruitment right now. Opportunities to build business with the right talent are presenting themselves all around us. Cheers to your success!
If you’re thinking about hiring Bilingual/French talent in the near future, contact us today. Get ahead of your competition by taking action now. It will give you a distinct business advantage amid Canada’s talent gap in Bilingual/French candidates. Feel free to call us at: 416-236-3303, or by email at: [email protected]. We look forward to helping you grow your business!