By Terri Roeslmeier
As I write this blog article, I am beginning my 9th week of working at home, which is very rare for our company. Usually a work at home day would be warranted by one of our infamous Chicago snow blizzards. Other than that, we are used to going into the office and seeing each other every day. For Illinois, the stay-at-home orders have been extended through the end of May, which means we will have at least 3 more weeks of working at home. While the pandemic has caused havoc on everyone’s life, some states are beginning to slowly lift the stay-at-home orders, meaning some normalcy will return back to our lives.
One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the more than $33 million Americans that are unemployed due to the pandemic and that number still continues to rise. Just released on Friday, 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs in April, causing the unemployment rate to soar to 14.7%. America hasn’t seen unemployment rates this high since the Great Depression.
Experts say it’s hard to predict when America will bounce back again. It’s especially hard to predict because of the difficulty to differentiate the Americans who have filed for unemployment that are permanently laid off compared to temporarily laid off. What is predicted, is that certain industries will take longer to bounce back, particularly the ones that have been hurt the most. One of these industries is hospitality, which includes restaurants, hotels, entertainment, tourism, etc. Retail, trade, construction, airlines, and other transportation services, such as taxis and ride sharing companies, are also being hit hard.
As recruiters, the challenge just several months ago was the low unemployment rate. Now the challenge is completely flipped and we are dealing with record high unemployment rates. Now is the time recruiters will be needed more than ever. So how do you prepare for the hiring surge that is to come? How do you help the $33 million Americans that are unemployed? How do you help the companies that are suffering?
Part of your job now as a recruiter is being there for those clients who are hurting. Another part of it is keeping the candidates engaged that you have been in touch with. And the last part of it, is finding those $33 million unemployed individuals.
Stay in Touch with Clients & Prospective Clients
Right now, many staffing companies have changed their focus and strategy to target the industries that are booming, which is important. In dire times like these, you need to gain new business to keep your staffing company afloat, even if that means diving into industries you haven’t worked with in the past. In fact, a few weeks ago we published a blog article that talked about strategy to gain new business in a recession. If you missed it, check it out under my Ezine articles.
On the other side of the equation though, are the clients that aren’t doing well during this time. Recruiters should stay in communication with these companies, even if they aren’t hiring. Now is a critical time for staffing companies to demonstrate they are there for clients as a partner now and will be there for them when they need staff again. One way to do this is by providing complimentary resources. Send relevant blog articles, eBooks, information about industry webinars, perhaps your company can even host webinars. Provide them with resources they would find valuable. It doesn’t have to be a weekly communication, but every couple of weeks reach out to them and use the tools in your ATS to easily streamline these communications. Remember, this should include prospects as well. It’s a way for recruiters to stay in touch with prospects so they remember you in the future when staffing needs arise.
A lack of communication or no communication at all with these clients is the worst thing that can be done during this time. Set both your client and yourself up for future success. You are “in this together” and by being there for them now, will show you’re dedicated to a long-term partnership.
Keep Candidates Engaged
Another setback that recruiters are being faced with are candidates that were looking for a job before the pandemic, but are no longer looking. These are highly skilled qualified candidates you want to stay in touch with so you have the opportunity to place them in the future. With more than $33 million Americans unemployed, it may seem unproductive to focus some of your efforts on the candidates that are currently employed and not looking, however, you want to continue to establish your relationship with these candidates so they come to you when they are in market again.
As with your clients, one way to stay in touch with candidates is by sending resources to keep them engaged with you and your company. Send them relevant blog articles, eBooks, and information about upcoming webinars that would be valuable for them to sit in on. Your staffing company can even host your own webinars and virtual workshop sessions that go over resume building, interview tips, writing cover letters and more.
An additional resource you can provide candidates is information about free classes they can take to build their skill set. If you know of free or paid online classes that would be beneficial for a candidate, send information to them. You can even pass on information about certifications if there is a certification that they need or have talked about taking. Now is the perfect time for candidates to take courses and build their skill set.
Videos are popular right now as well. They are also cheap and easy to make. Many people are recording messages right from the comfort of their own home using their laptop. It’s a way to connect with candidates on a more personal level and allows them to put a face to your name. You don’t need to record personal messages for each candidate, but you can record one message that says “You are here for them, tell them about the resources you will be sharing/where you will be sharing them, and let them know to reach out if they need anything.”
Social media is a great avenue to reach a wide audience. If you don’t currently use social media, now is a good time to begin using it to post information about jobs and resources for candidates. If your staffing company also regularly posts information, candidates should be encouraged to follow the staffing company as well. Try to post 2-3 times a week to keep the audience engaged in your activity.
No matter how you decide to communicate with your candidates, you want it to be creative. Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. Why would someone want to work with you versus another staffing company or recruiter? If you were them, what would you want to be receiving during this time? With all of these efforts, candidates will remember you and come to you when all of this is over if they aren’t currently looking. It may even motivate them to reach out to you now!
Streamline Your Communications
If your staffing company uses an ATS/CRM to manage your clients and candidates, it might have tools to easily streamline your communication. Reaching out to clients and candidates on an individual basis is time consuming, especially when providing similar resources to each. One way to streamline communication is by creating text message and email templates in your ATS/CRM.
For clients, you can create templates based on industry and for candidates you can create templates based on industry or position type. This gives you the ability to send out targeted messages to the appropriate audience in bulk. If the software has the capability, you can also customize the name, so the candidate or client contact name is inserted when they receive the message. This makes the message more personal. Some software solutions also have the ability to post to social media right from the software, which would allow for recruiters to easily share job postings, blog articles, and upcoming webinar information all from within your ATS/CRM.
Make “Hot Candidate” Pipelines
For candidates you speak to that aren’t looking now, but will be looking, add them to a “Hot Candidate” Pipeline. Create different Pipelines based on industry or even position type. This way your candidates will be sorted for you down the road when you are filling positions. You will also already have a candidate list to start with versus needing to seek out new candidates to contact.
Taking the time to create these lists now, will better prepare you for future hiring needs. You already have a great candidate list, there is no need to start from scratch down the line.
Find the Candidates That are Looking
So far, we’ve talked about strategy for staying in touch with candidates that aren’t currently looking, but will be looking. As iterated earlier, staying in touch with these candidates is important so they will remember you and come to you in the future. What we haven’t talked about though is finding the candidates that are looking currently. How do we find the $33 million Americans unemployed?
Use the Search Capabilities in Your ATS
One way to do this is by using the tools in your ATS to search for candidates. Search by position, skills, and industry to find candidates that may be out of a job. First target the industries that aren’t doing well and see if you can find candidates that are out of a job. With the candidates that you find, create a “Hot Candidate” Favorites List. This list can be similar to your Pipeline list, but this list would be candidates that are looking for a job currently. Again, you can break your Favorites List out by industry, position, and even skill set. With these candidates, evaluate their skill set and background and try to place them at companies that are hiring right now. If you don’t have an opportunity for them, you might want to create a separate Favorites List for these individuals.
In addition to targeting candidates in industries not doing well, there are other searches you can perform to find candidates that have been affected by mass layoffs. One of these unique searches is by Date Last Contacted. There may be candidates you haven’t been in touch with for some time that are looking again. You can also perform a candidate Employment History Search. Maybe the candidate hasn’t been currently working in a role that you are looking to place, but has prior experience. There might be candidates on this list that have been laid off and need a new opportunity.
Note, if you are looking for a way to narrow down your search results, you can start by searching for candidates locally using the above search criteria. This will give you a manageable list to start with and then you can expand your search from there. Your ATS has an endless amount of opportunities to find candidates. Take advantage of its robust search capabilities.
Use Your Personal Connections & Do Your Research
Over the past month and a half, I’ve seen many social media posts about people getting laid off and furloughed from their jobs. Stay close to your connections and see if there are any opportunities within your own circle. A lot of people are posting about mass layoffs at their company. See who these companies are. Maybe you can try to connect with some of the individuals that were let go. Also as mentioned earlier, use social media to post resources and job opportunities. This allows your connections to see the job opportunities you are posting and might catch the eye of one of your connections that lost their job.
Do your own outside research as well. Search for companies that are doing mass layoffs to help you find individuals that might have lost their job. Collect their resume and start connecting them with opportunities.
The Future is in Your Hands
It’s a critical time for a recruiter, but the steps taken now can help set you up for future success and prepare you for the hiring surge. So, remember stay in communication with all of your clients, including the ones that currently aren’t hiring. Keep all of your candidates engaged, even if they aren’t looking for an opportunity now. And find those $33 million Americans who are facing unemployment. Collect their resumes, connect with them, and begin doing what you do best-making placements.