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Industry Insights | 21 minute read

The new world of talent acquisition: Are you ready?

May 4, 2020

The new world of talent acquisition: Are you ready? 

As we all try to manage the various curve balls that COVID-19 is throwing at us, thoughts are now turning to what recruitment will look like after the crisis is over. We all know there will be a recovery (that’s a dead cert) but nobody knows what the rebound will look like (hopefully it will be a V shape). 

As the below chart from LinkedIn showsthere has been a major decline in hiring across the globe. But, in China, we've already seen an increaseThis gives hope that other areas will soon follow suit. 

Hiring trends graph for May 2020  from LinkedIn

Until then, talent acquisition leaders should use this time to evaluate and optimise talent strategies that will engage talent when the economy lifts. WilsonHCG optimising talent acquisition  

Immediate Needs: 

Some organisations have initiated immediate change. Whether by design or necessity, it can drive efficienciesThis is no more evident than at Walmart. The retailer changed its hiring process to reduce its average time to hire for associates from two weeks to 24 hours. Whilst this process change wouldn’t be suitable for all organisations (far from it), it certainly indicates change that can happen when barriers are reduced and everyone is driving toward the same goal. Walmart needs to hire 150,000 new associates by the end of May, so the process had to change for it to be successful. Carefully evaluating processes will help you find the one that will work the most effectively for your organisation 


Many organisations have switched from face-to-face interviews to conducting via video. Elsewhere, companies have delayed the offer process. They are still interviewing but are not formally issuing offers until they are ready to make the hire. No matter what the change, the common denominator is that clear communication through changes in the hiring process are vital. All parties, whether candidates, hiring managers or recruiters, need to understand the situation and communicate it consistently.  

Expanded Talent Pools: 

Another tactic that we’re seeing is that some organisations are using remote working to their advantage to broaden talent pools. After all, if someone is working remotely, does it matter if they are based in London, Krakow or Singapore? We already started to experience an increase in demand for the globalisation of talent pools before the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it can be challenging to manage someone who lives on the other side of the world, it is achievable. Providing employees with a set of core hours then allowing them to work within them, as long as tasks are completed, is one way to navigate multiple time zones.  

How has COVID-19 impacted candidates? 

The world has changed for candidates in the blink of an eye, going from a candidate-led market with generally low unemployment to a market that is flooded with talent. In the U.S. alone, unemployment claims have reached a record high. When the crisis is over, there will be a lot of people looking for jobs. That’s a certainty. 

Selective Candidates

Candidates will still be demanding and selectiveespecially the younger generations. They will continue to research organisations on company career pages and review sites like Glassdoor. But there will be additional information they want to access. For example, they’ll want to know how the organisation supported current employees through thcrisis. That's the type of question candidates will be asking in the months ahead.  

Crisis Impact

How you treat your employees and candidates during times of crisis will have a major bearing on your ability to attract the best talent through your employment brand. Candidates are going to want to work for an employer thetrust. If, as an organisation, trust is one of your key values, make sure this is demonstrated through your employment brand. If your organisation doesn’t live up to its values, candidates will find out - and walk away, as a result. 

Virtual Work Option

Candidate expectations will undoubtedly change as a result of this crisis too. With many people now working remotely, there will be an increased desire for this to become a permanent way of working. Is your organisation open to allowing remote working as a standard option? These are the questions you need to ask yourself now, so you’re prepared when candidates ask them as hiring resumes. 

The impact on hiring managers 

There are varying estimates about the number of people now working from home, but we do know that millions of people all over the world are doing it. This means hiring managers are facing a big test as they are having to make offers to candidates that theyve never actually met face-to-face. How can you support and help managers deal with virtual hiring and management? Do they have the skills and support needed? 

No one can accurately predict what’s going to happen in the future but it’s safe to say there will be a “new normal”: 

Employment Branding

Although there will be a lot of candidates available when the economy lifts, it doesn’t mean we should revert to the times when candidates were expected to sell themselves without hiring mangers selling back. Candidates will still be selective in the organisations they choose, and employment brand will still be important in attracting the best talent. Now is the time to optimize your employment brand in preparation. 


Talent acquisition teams can expect an increase in candidate applications. Applicant tracking system (ATS) pre-screening questions will be more important to filter candidates more thoroughly. Start adjusting your current bank of questions now and review them regularly to ensure they’re still effective. 

Technology Optimisation

New technologies are constantly being added in the talent acquisition space to make better, faster hires. Review your existing tech stack to determine its effectiveness. And, as a next step, look to maximize the capabilities your current technologies have. 

Virtual Hiring Guidelines

Video interviewing speeds up the process, improves hiring manager productivity and reduces costs. Hiring managers may need additional support to make decisions on hiring candidates remotely. Provide clear guidelines on how to evaluate a candidate with interview guides and scoring sheets. This will help with consistency in the evaluation process. You’ll also need to provide support for candidates interviewing remotely.  

Strategic Planning:

Look at your competitors to see how you compare. Can you capitalise on mapping markets for future hiring needs? Work with the wider business to help to identify key skills/talent the business will need in the future. You can then develop a strategic workforce plan to ensure your organisation will be able to access the skills it needs to move forward. 

Market Intel

Ensure hiring managers understand the current candidate availability and remind them why employment brand is so important even when accessibility is high. Use video calls to have open training sessions and share market insights to give your hiring mangers a competitive advantage. 

If you’ve not started already, now’s the time to prepare for talent acquisition's new normal. 



About Stewart Cato

Stewart is the vice president of talent operations at WilsonHCG. He has years of expertise managing and delivering complex, multi-region technical talent solution programmes for international clients across EMEA, NAM and APAC. Stewart is passionate about delivering talent programmes that make a marked difference to the talent agenda and developing teams to reach their full potential.