August 10, 2020 / Coronavirus

Covid-19 - Accelerating the Shift Toward Online Recruitment

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With the Coronavirus pandemic already having an unprecedented impact on most of our lives, we explore how it may change the way organisations recruit their tech talent.

Before COVID, businesses and recruiters alike were already having to adapt. In the UK last year, there was a 15% increase in job postings for the IT sector, yet a 9% decrease in application numbers.

The supposed skill shortage in the IT industry is no secret to anyone so the figures may not be a huge surprise to some, but what it’s meant is that companies have had to start changing how they find, assess and hire their tech talent.

2017 NACE job outlook research suggested that 91% of employers want their candidates to have work experience. While that figure isn’t specific to just the IT sector, it’s a reflection of why the current recruitment processes aren’t working.

Especially if you factor in survey results from 2018 which suggested that a massive 65% of developers are self-taught, the skill shortage may exist, but more and more businesses are having to use online assessment tools to tap into the talent they may miss with a more traditional recruitment process.

So, the shift to online recruitment is already well underway - but will the virus result in the acceleration of that process? Below are three reasons why we think it might.

The Unknown

The sense of unknown has impacted us all, and employers are no different. In a time when candidate experience is so important – with 83% of candidates admitting that a poor recruitment experience can change their mind about a role - what if your perfect candidate doesn’t want to risk a face-to-face interview until next year?

Flexible working, and working from home in particular, has become the ‘new normal.’ It may be that we see that trend continue for the rest of 2020, with Wordpress Chief Executive Matt Mullenweg admitting “This might be a chance for a great reset in terms of how we work” in a recent Guardian interview.

Employers will have to be prepared to adapt to the candidate’s needs as much as, if not more than, the other way around. In a competitive market, businesses can’t afford to lose out on good candidates just because their recruitment process wasn’t agile enough to cope with the unknown landscape.

Recruiters have to start looking into alternative ways of hiring candidates outside of the traditional methods. Being able to assess a candidate's ability and potential, regardless of experience, will be critical - and employers will need to be agile enough to carry out these assessments anytime, anywhere.

Nobody knows when, if ever, any form of normality will be able to resume – so employers must prepare to transition their assessment process online to combat the unknown.

Handling the New Landscape

We may not know how exactly the recruitment landscape will look when, eventually, restrictions lift, and the virus is no longer a pandemic; but one thing we do know for sure is that it will be a lot different to before the virus.

Research from the University of Essex suggests more than 6.5 million people could lose their jobs in the UK alone due to the economic fallout – a statistic with multiple implications for the IT recruitment industry.

Firstly, with so many jobs potentially being lost, employers may face more applications than ever before. In the second week of April, there was a 31% increase in searches for IT roles on Totaljobs. Meanwhile, recruiters face the daunting task of wading through a sea of job seekers to find the ideal candidate for their clients.

This alone could, and perhaps should, encourage a shift toward utilising more online tools, but paired with the reality that employers and recruiters may have lost some staff themselves, the need for an efficient online solution becomes essential.

Winning the talent battle

Finally, employers and recruiters will both have to make the next six months or so count in the battle for tech talent. If you’re struggling with the challenge of the perceived skills shortage, there may never be a better time to address it as the 31% increase in search volume suggests.

The likelihood is that some great, experienced IT professionals will have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during the pandemic - but the candidates being available is only half the battle.

You have to ensure you’re using the right tools to attract those candidates to your organisation or job role. Make sure they’re engaged with your business, provide a great candidate experience and give them as much insight as possible into what life will be like in the role.

If you’re not doing all of the above, there will be an employer who will be, and they’ll choose them over you. If businesses want to take advantage of the available new talent, they have to have all the right tools in place.

It’s highlighted even more when you consider those who may have used any gap in their employment to upskill. Going back to the stat about 65% of developers being self-taught – there may be a plethora of new, inexperienced, talent who’ve taught themselves how to code. How will you separate the good from the bad, efficiently, with traditional methods?

So, with job searches up, resources limited, an air of uncertainty about the future, cost per hire as significant a factor as ever and candidates still expecting an outstanding recruitment experience – is an online recruitment process a necessity rather than a desire?

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Alex Adams
Marketing Executive

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