Friday March 13th 2020 is a date to remember, as the day the world of recruitment imploded due to COVID-19. After months and months of companies of all sizes facing escalating hiring challenges, the talent shortage in its current form disappeared in one single day. People started to be sent home to work. Companies announced layoffs. Hiring froze. Fear started to rise through the workforce. On Friday the 13th, the landscape of work and recruitment began to deeply and irreversibly transform.

After spending the last 10 years dreaming up the future and bringing it to reality (hey, I was talking about work match algorithms in 2010…), from my optimistic point of view I believe that on some aspects, the world of recruitment will be better off after the storm has passed. For years I witnessed the costly impacts of power shifts between candidates and employers, integration difficulties of certain segments, challenges related to the complexification of hiring and the slow (painful) digital transformation of recruitment. Even before the pandemic, there was still a lot of work to be done in order to facilitate the match between candidates and employers.

So what now?

There’s no doubt about it, one day, operations will pick-up again and companies will start recruiting at a faster pace. The talent shortage in its new form will be back to challenge organisations and the good news is that it’s possible to start preparing for this this today. The current halt in hiring for many companies gives them, the opportunity to reinvent their recruitment processes, question their strategies, implement new technologies, take a few risks experimenting, so that they are ready to kick back into gear when things pick-up again.

Here’s 5 things to think about:

  1. Adoption of HR Tech & A.I: A lot of companies will be taking this down time as an opportunity to virtualize their recruitment process and implement online collaboration tools to connect recruiters and potential candidates, remotely. A major candidate irritant will thus be eliminated through a much faster hiring process, whereas in the past, weeks were required to carry out the numerous in-person interviews. Concrete applications of artificial intelligence will provide more and more efficient tools that will allow recruiters to concentrate on the strategic and human sides of recruitment.
  2. Virtualization of recruitment: Recruiters are going to have to get used to driving a larger portion of the recruitment process virtually, through online communication platforms. As companies and hiring managers get used to this new, more effective and less risky procedure, it is highly likely to become the new norm going forward for many. Innovative technologies will continue to appear to assist in making virtualization as complete and efficient as possible, for the benefit of those who choose to use them.
  3. Quantity vs Scarcity: In many fields and industries, for the next 12-18 months we will be operating in a context of talent surplus as opposed to shortage, due to the massive increase in unemployement. Implementing applicant tracking systems that provide highly performant candidate preselection and selection tools, will help sort through masses of CVs and identify high potentials without needing to add additional resources.
  4. Brakes on international recruitment: It’s not the end of international recruitment and trips abroad to interview candidates in person but…let’s just say it’s going to be on hold for a while. The great news is that existing technology can assist employers that are still interested in sourcing expertise abroad in continuing to do so, 100% remotely.
  5. Going remote: It does seem crazy but a portion of workers will not be going back to the office…ever. As companies adapt their operations to the current situation, many will see that it is not only feasible but much more cost effective. This will translate in bringing down the location and distance barrier, increasing available talent pools for certain types of positions and widening available opportunities for candidates.

What was great about the talent shortage is that it had initiated an important wave of change in human resources. HR leaders became more open to the importance of implement HR technologies, to having a clear employer brand combined with digital marketing initiatives and many made conscious efforts to consider and give opportunities to workers from minority groups. Even if the talent shortage has vanished for the foreseeable future, openness to the digital transformation, to innovation, risk taking and to having more inclusive hiring practices, still needs to be at the forefront of HR priorities.

The world is changing and change is never easy. Especially massive amounts of change like we are presently living. But I firmly believe that the alliance between human creativity, technology and artificial intelligence will create a much more efficient, fun and hopefully, inclusive recruitment reality.

Talent shortage or not.