The factors that candidates value and look for in job opportunities shift over time in response to cultural events and economic factors. And the rapid changes that have happened over the past couple of months as a result of COVID-19 are going to have a lasting impact on the market, even after this public health crisis is behind us.
I know this because I’ve already experienced it first hand—I was working as an agency recruiter when the financial collapse happened back in 2008. Overnight, the world seemed to change and the recruiting industry had to pivot along with it. And this current economic dip we’re experiencing as a result of COVID-19 is likely to have even wider ripple effects when it comes to hiring and candidate expectations.
At my organization, Arbonne, we’re already seeing candidate mindsets shift, as more than ever people look for employers that align with their values. Arbonne is a global leader in personal skincare and wellness products, and recently became a Certified B Corporation. As a network marketing company, there are lots of new consultants signing up to join us even now. This means that hiring hasn’t paused for us and we luckily haven’t been impacted by layoffs. It also means that my team and I are still having a lot of conversations with candidates and have noticed some new themes emerge in terms of the types of questions they ask.
Based on these conversations, as well as my experience going through the last recession in the recruiting industry, here are some of my predictions about what is going to matter to candidates in the next few years as we recover from this public health and economic crisis.
Rally note: If you’d like to hear more from Chantell, watch her free session “Recruiting With Purpose in a Post-COVID World” at RallyFwd Virtual Conference on May 6th. Learn more about her session and register today.
Theme 1: Stability
COVID-19 has created an environment where there is a lot of uncertainty. At the time of writing this, 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment and many businesses across numerous industries are struggling to stay afloat.
As a result, for years to come, people will likely value the stability that a position and company has to offer. Stability may even be prioritized over other important factors like career growth and compensation. We will also see the importance of work-life balance be even more in demand as well as increased options to work from home. This doesn’t mean that those other factors won’t be valued at all anymore, it just means that perceived stability is likely to be a top consideration.
I’m already noticing this as a key theme that’s cropping up in the conversations my team is having. Candidates want to know a lot more about our organization’s position in light of COVID-19. We are getting questions like:
- How is COVID-19 impacting the organization and business performance?
- How is the organization responding to any impacts or changes?
- How likely is it that a particular team or role type might be impacted long term?
- Is there any restructuring planned?
In addition, for maybe the first time ever, candidates are also asking questions about our severance packages right out of the gate! Previously, this wasn’t a question that we had to cover during initial conversations with candidates.
What you can do now:
Equip your recruiting or talent acquisition team with an updated FAQ. Give them the information they need to have informed, confident and accurate conversations with candidates. The information you provide to your recruiting team should help candidates to understand the big picture: why your business is hiring for their role now and how your business is performing overall.
What you can do longer term:
Add messaging to your careers page and elsewhere that showcases your business’ stability where applicable and relevant. Just make sure this messaging is authentic (see the next theme on this list!) so you don’t hurt your employer brand. It’s better to say nothing and have individual, honest conversations about the risks and potential rewards of an opportunity than to lie about where things stand.
Read more about managing the candidate experience during the COVID-19 crisis here.
Theme 2: Transparency
This is a scary time for many people. If you are hiring at the moment, candidates who choose to come work with you are placing a lot of trust in your organization, particularly if they’re leaving another stable position to join your company.
You should respond to that trust by acting trustworthy; in other words, be honest and transparent in your communications. If there is any risk associated with the career change they might be making, be up front about it. Otherwise, you risk seriously damaging your reputation long term by misrepresenting the reality of the situation.
What you can do now:
From a content standpoint, you should avoid sugar coating anything or representing your company’s situation in a way that is inaccurate. Remember that old adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Well, when it comes to what you’re publishing publicly, if your company is in a perilous situation, it might be best to not talk about your business performance rather than to mislead people by saying something that’s not true. You can then reserve the honest conversations about how things are really going for the one-on-one conversations you’re having with candidates if you’re still hiring.
What you can do longer term:
Before this crisis started, transparency was important to employer branding. It’s actually important to all types of branding! If you represent a product inauthentically, people will notice and call you out on it, damaging your reputation long term. Likewise, if you represent your employee experience and career prospects in the wrong way, employees will call you out on employer review sites like Glassdoor, kununu, Fairygodboss and others.
Read more about how you can re-recruit your employees to earn their loyalty in a post-coronavirus world.
After this crisis, transparency will be ultra important too, so it might be a good idea to revisit your employee value proposition (EVP) and make sure it still holds true at this point. A moment of crisis like this is like putting your EVP and values in a pressure cooker — so you should be prepared to adjust your EVP and values if you find any elements don’t hold up under the pressure.
Rally note: If you want to learn about how to go about testing and adjusting your EVP, you can tune in to Debbie Celado’s session at RallyFwd, “When Life Reveals Your Real EVP.” Learn more about Debbie’s session and register here.
Theme 3: Flexibility
Flexible work arrangements and remote work opportunities have been important to many candidates — particularly Gen Z and millennial talent segments — even before this crisis started. However, moving forward, I expect candidates will value this even more than they did before.
Since so many organizations are operating remotely now, candidates know that it can be done. Lines like “this role isn’t set up to work remotely” or “that’s just not how our business operates,” may not stand up anymore after this experience.
Further, a lot of companies might decide to keep part of their workforce remote in the future to cut down on costs. And if many of your hiring competitors are offering up remote opportunities, then that might be something you need to consider too or risk losing out on some great candidates.
What you can do now
Be clear with candidates about expectations now and post-COVID. Many of your new hires are starting their experience as a remote employee, so be clear about how likely it is that this arrangement could continue permanently.
What you can do longer term
Have conversations with your leadership team about remote working opportunities. Let them know that candidate expectations are likely to shift and talk about if they’re open to some roles being remote in the future. Make sure you’re in a good position to be able to answer the question, “Is remote working an option?,” from candidates when it comes up — because it’s likely to come up pretty often moving forward.
Theme 4: Purpose and ethics
Lastly, I think more and more in the period following this crisis, that candidates are going to value companies with heart. These are organizations that conduct business in an ethical way and that allow their strong values to drive their decisions and operations.
We’re already seeing this happen in consumer buying decisions. This was happening pre-crisis and is being heightened now. There is a lot of coverage of which companies have or have not helped in the fight against COVID-19. There are even sites like Lewis Cotter that advise consumers on where they should spend their money, based on how companies treated their employees during this crisis period.
More and more, candidates are going to want to work for companies that are doing good and that provide a sense of purpose for those who work there. We all want our work to feel meaningful and I think that working for companies that do good in the world will become a more important factor.
This is something that has been at the core of Arbonne’s business operations and our talent attraction approach for years. As a Certified B Corp, we’re committed to clean products and manufacturing, along with environmental responsibility. Having joined the group of companies committed to being a force for good, it is now part of the foundation to how we make business decisions across all functions and has become a strong force in how we attract many of our top candidates. And I suspect this factor will only become more appealing to candidates we’re looking to hire in the future!
What you can do now
If your company is giving back in some way or helping to contribute to the fight against COVID, you should share that with the world. Let people know what you’re doing, because they truly want to hear and see good news stories right now! And if you’re not doing anything yet to help out, it might be worth starting a conversation with your leadership team and coming up with a few ideas of how you might be able to offer some type of support.
What you can do long term
Continue to lead with heart where you can and to create content that communicates this ethos. This way you can attract candidates who share your values and align with your mission and purpose. Revisit your EVP and values to make sure they highlight any ways that you’re doing good in the world. You can also consider collaborating with your Corporate Social Responsibility team and finding ways to showcase what they’re doing.
All in all, what we’re going through right now as a nation, as a society, and as a world is going to result in some major changes. And the world of talent attraction and the candidate mindset is certainly not immune from those changes. Candidates today and in the future are going to be increasingly interested in roles that offer stability and flexibility. They will increasingly want to work for brands that are transparent and that are contributing good to the world.
As Talent Acquisition professionals, we need to be there to meet these shifting candidate needs so we can support our businesses and help our companies to thrive during this time and on the other side. Because the other side is coming eventually and we will make it through—and maybe we’ll even be a little better because of all that we’ve grown through together.