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How Covid-19 Changed the Way We Look at Hiring

A look at hiring practices to get rid of and new ones to implement.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The only way to win in a post-Covid-19 world is to relentlessly focus on creating the best team possible. This has always been important during periods of economic contraction and business uncertainty. The difference now is that the rewards and the risks have never been greater. Covid-19’s disruptions, a shortage of in-demand talent and millennial-led trends will force a permanent rethinking of how companies are structured. The organizations that can do more with less — by attracting better talent and better engaging them — will likely see massive productivity improvements when compared to the average company, where 60 percent of the company is not engaged or actively disengaged. 

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The most adaptive organizations are thinking about talent in the same way they think about their ideal customer. Companies spend significant time and money working to understand the customers they want to attract and finding ways to reach them. The best possible hire you can make today does not need your job, and they will not seek your company out to sell themselves. They expect to be sought out and sold. Any company that treats their talent as commodities is signaling to the entire world that their business model is outdated. They are signaling that their company is not a place where you will see your future improved. This is why talent strategies need to shift from funneling down to the best candidates remaining, and toward a strategy that funnels in the best talent. Utilizing this method can also capture the employee’s trust during the hiring process

Benefit your customers and employees equally.

Organizations that do not create an authentic, symbiotic, trusting culture will not gain the trust of the best talent. Trust has never been more important than during the Covid-19 era, as Americans’ happiness is at a low. People are dealing with economic uncertainty and pandemic-related anxiety, which is a natural distraction from efforts on the job.

Any talent that is not engaged will not find a way to be as productive as they were pre-Covid-19. Talent that trusts their employer and believes in their mission will find a way to maximize their productivity and help their employer navigate the massive disruptions occurring today.

Fill the gap strategically.

Even today, when most assume there is an ever-shrinking pool of jobs available, American companies are unable to fill more than four million jobs because they cannot find the right talent for those roles. There are more unfilled roles during the Covid-19 pandemic when compared to this same time in 2014. 

This gap between what companies are looking for and what's available will not change overnight and it can't be solved by spending more on job advertising or paying a recruiter to find someone that checks all the boxes on a sheet of paper. The best talent will continue to have leverage, they won’t just want the average market rates for their skills. The best hires will want to be paid a premium, and want a company that fits in with their lifestyle needs and life goals.

This may sound challenging, or even intimidating. It is if you aren’t properly aligned toward the future of work and talent expectations. The good news, however, is disruption creates opportunities. There has never been a better time to make the necessary changes in your company and align yourself for massive growth long term. Small- and mid-size companies now have more access to talent than  ever. All companies and talent are now open to remote work, creating a massive opportunity for companies in all markets to compete for amazing talent they never had access to before. 

Some immediate steps you can take to benchmark your ability to capture the best talent:

  • Remember a time you were most engaged and happiest with your job. Would you have ever learned about your current company’s open roles and why you should work there? 

  • Go through the process of applying to a job at your company. Does it treat you like the company is anxious to have a conversation with you and sell you on why the partnership between you and them will be mutually beneficial , or does it feel more like being at the DMV? 

  • Mystery shop your own company by applying to a job under another name and with a fake resume. How long does it take before you get a response that isn't automated?  Mark down how long it takes before you find out if the company is interested or not, and how the communication makes you feel. If this takes any longer than three days — you're losing out on the best talent and settling for talent that is more likely to end up disengaged. 

  • Begin the process of understanding the core competencies and differentiators of your organization. What jobs are indispensable for you to compete in the marketplace?  Anything that is on this list should get prioritized and benchmarked, and you should do whatever possible to get the best talent and keep them happy. Everything else can be done better through new talent platforms or outsourcing to companies that specialize in those areas. Don’t be OK at everything — be amazing with a narrowed focus. 

The importance of engaged and talented individuals being part of your team is never going to go away. The rate of change in technology, competition and our economy will only continue to increase. There are no permanent moats, and your differentiator today will be commoditized tomorrow. The only way to prosper in this ever-changing environment is to focus on having the best team possible to handle whatever comes your way. Focus on being great where you can. Where you can’t, find partners that are.

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