Sourcing in the Time of COVID-19

Aug 3, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, sourcing candidates was pretty straightforward. Record-low unemployment made the recruiting landscape into something of an extreme seller’s market, where the best candidates had all the leverage. And so recruiters relied primarily on outbound strategies to fill their pipeline, reaching out to amazing people that were already employed, hoping to tempt those candidates into stepping from one great job to another. 

Things have changed. COVID-19 has devastated large swathes of the economy — about 20 percent of American workers are collecting unemployment in the midst of the worst contraction on record. And so, with such an unexpected influx of people on the labor market, companies are once again in the driver’s seat when it comes to sourcing talent. So what does this mean for all the recruiters and hiring managers out there? 

Get Ready for an Inbound Surge

Many of the companies that have weathered the storm have shifted to working from home, making geographic proximity to the office less important. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Square have all announced long-term remote-work plans, and this is a trend that goes beyond big tech companies: a LinkedIn study found an increase of nearly 300% in remote job postings on their platform. That same study also found that applications to these jobs have more than doubled. 

And that’s about what you’d expect. More people on the labor market, incentivized to apply to jobs across the country because of a focus on remote work, naturally is going to lead to a surge of inbound candidates.

This isn’t always a good thing for your typical hiring manager or recruiter. Sure, there’ll be lots more candidates to choose from, but there’s going to be many more irrelevant candidates to sift through, too. You’re probably going to lose out on some of the great applicants to your role just because you won’t get to review them straight away. After all, reviewing candidates is exhausting, and reviewing twice as many as you’re used to is even moreso. 

To help manage the deluge of applications, you can either scale up your recruiting team, or turn to technology. There are pros and cons to both, but the technological solution is certainly the more cost-effective one. Resume screening applications like RecruitBot can automatically surface the most relevant candidates for you to help you find some signal in the noise, but even your ATS can also do some clever work filtering inbound applications. This is especially important when the best candidates will have multiple job offers, so engaging with the most promising candidates sooner will give you a decisive edge in closing them.

Outbound Is As Important As Ever

Outbound recruiting also has changed a great deal since the pandemic. As discussed in our talk at the HR Transform Summit, “Recruiting in the Time of COVID,” candidates are both much more responsive to recruiting messages and much less risk tolerant when it comes to changing jobs. People at FAANG companies especially are loath to move, preferring the certainty of a steady paycheck even in favor of something much more lucrative. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on talking to them.

At RecruitBot, we work with hiring managers and recruiters across many industries, and we get to see how the effectiveness of their tactics evolve over time. The most interesting takeaway we’ve observed is that, unintuitively, doubling down on outbound is particularly effective right now. Because more candidates are on the market, or concerned at their current job and open to conversations, our most successful partners have found that it’s better to target the best candidates they can find and engage with them, rather than just relying on the increase in inbound applications. 

It’s important to note, however, that patience is a necessary component of this type of engagement, where nurturing relationships with candidates before directly asking them to interview with your company is absolutely essential. That’s a big difference from before the pandemic, when outbound recruitment meant nearly begging people to interview. Now, successful recruitment means simply spending time learning about candidates and letting them learn about you, by holding informational interviews that fall somewhere between networking and recruiting. 

Layoff Lists Can Be a Wonderful Resource

Of course, one thing that exists now that didn’t exist before the pandemic is that people are coming together to share various lists of COVID-19 layoff lists to help their friends and families and coworkers get re-hired. The lists can be found all over social media, and many people have been hired because of them. 

But if you’re not plugged in they can be hard to find, and if you do find them they can be hard to understand. So we at RecruitBot figured it would be a good thing to combine them all into one searchable database, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to find these laid-off candidates in one convenient place. It’s filterable based on job history, title, skills, etc., and you can send personal emails or drip campaigns to each candidate with a single click. It’s also free!

Bottom Line

The pandemic has disrupted most of our “normal ways” of getting things done, but for recruiters and hiring managers, it’s actually an interesting opportunity to succeed. Your job postings are going to get a ton of new applicants, and your outbound outreach is going to be a lot more interesting and personal. With the right mindset and expectations, you’ll be successful.