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Behind the Scenes: How Hiring Processes May Change Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the economic picture in the U.S. and throughout the world. Stay-at-home and social distancing mandates to stop the spread of the virus have caused many businesses to move online and many physical businesses to shutter.

The Hiring Process During Coronavirus

What does this mean for senior level executives currently job searching or considering a search? The recent economic transformations are likely to change many hiring processes as well. If you’re looking for a new position, you’ll need to bear in mind the effect of the pandemic on your sector and the macroeconomic businesses climate in general, and then how specific hiring process are likely to change.

Consider Your Sector

First, you need to candidly consider the impact of the coronavirus and its attendant economic changes on your sector. Many industries, such as travel and restaurants, have been hit hard, either having to close (consumer airlines) or scramble to transform their delivery methods (restaurants).

But others have seen business rise exponentially. In financial services, for example, mortgage refinancing applications have soared year to year because of interest rate cuts designed to provide economic relief. Demand for videoconferencing and delivery systems have climbed significantly due to pandemic-related changes in customer behavior.

The business climate in your sector will likely determine how businesses within it are approaching senior executive hiring now. If you’re in a hard-hit sector, you might need to reframe your experience to make your value within another sector clear.

Strategize methods of articulating your value by emphasizing capabilities rather than sector experience. Do you have experience in change management, restructuring, or leading virtual teams, for example? All these will be important going forward, and are cross-industry strengths.

Companies Face Challenges

Then, realize that companies face hiring challenges as never before. First, many negatively affected companies are facing financial strain. They may place hiring decisions on hold or be looking for executives to help them significantly restructure and even close down certain operations.

woman reading emailsSecond, companies who are holding steady are working in a very uncertain economic environment. It’s not known when the pandemic will end or when people can discontinue social distancing. The end of the pandemic may bring with it a forever-changed competitive picture. Many businesses are reluctant to hire in a fog of uncertainty. Hiring is likely to be considered only for key positions.

Third, companies doing well or seeing rapid increases in demand face another challenge: time and unfamiliar operations. Managers may need to hire, but be overwhelmed by other demands on their time – and as a result, have minimal time to devote to the hiring process. They may also have to conduct a job search via virtual methods that be unfamiliar to them and untested.

The Economic Climate: Potential Challenges for You

Add to this the fact that the economic climate could pose challenges for your job search. In February of this year, unemployment was at a record low. Just a few weeks later, it’s at a record high. As a result, companies have a larger than ever candidate pool.

Widespread unemployment often brings with it, unfortunately, downward pressure on wages. You are competing with many more people, and many of them may be willing to work for less compensation – which can be tempting to businesses seeking to maximize their cost structure.

While it’s always important to negotiate effectively for maximum compensation, it’s also important to be realistic. You may have to be flexible about compensation for now. There may be no room for negotiation in a way that just wasn’t true two months ago.

Widespread unemployment coupled with uncertainty may lead businesses to rely much more on contract work, even for senior management roles. It will be important to exhibit flexibility going forward.

How Processes Are Likely To Be Affected

Does the picture seem bleak? Well, it’s certainly changed. It’s important to keep in mind that positions are out there. Not only that, but, the economy will reopen at some point. Be prepared, as pent-up demand could make hiring robust once the all-clear is sounded.

In the meantime, here’s how processes are likely to be affected – and what to do.

The Search Process

Networking is always one of the best ways to find an executive job, and that’s true now more than ever. Keep in touch with your contacts and let them know you’re open to new positions.

Keep abreast with company news. If it seems as if Company X is in a position to be hiring on your level, contact them with a letter of inquiry and a resume.

Some companies that may have focused on local candidates may have a newly developed appreciation for the possibilities of remote work. Step up your exploration of companies outside of your location, especially in strong sectors.

Maintain your brand via social media and communication with people in your industry.

Resume Review

If you’re in a hard-hit industry, it might be time to revamp a chronological resume to a functional or combination resume, organized by type of capability. Use a summary statement to make your goals clear and reframe yourself at the resume’s top.

In every sector, be sure to quantify achievements with hard numbers and percentages whenever possible. A resume is a sales tool – use it to sell your achievements.

Always match your resume keywords to the keywords used in the job posting, to eliminate the potential of being screened out by an automated tracking system (ATS).

Interviewing

Businesses that have moved online will likely be conducting interviews online, of course. If your skills on videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Skype are rusty, do a few trial runs with family or friends to prepare.

videoconferenceDedicate some thought to what your home videoconferencing area looks like. Your backdrop should be organized and professional.

At-home interviews are subject to interruptions that office interviews never are. On the day of the interview, of course, make sure that children and pets won’t interrupt you. If they interrupt your interviewers, be good-humored and patient.

Expect Delays

It’s only prudent to expect delays in hiring decisions now. Companies may be uncertain, regrouping, and interviewing larger pools than normal. Team decisions may take place virtually and be delayed themselves. Be patient and optimistic to maximize your job search’s chances of success.

About the Author

Rita Williams is a freelance writer on a wide range of topics, including careers, human resources trends and personal finance. She works with both job-seekers and companies to educate and inform them about best practices – and shows humor and understanding while doing it.