Oct 29, 2020

If you’re still hiring, you’re f*!cking lucky — so be kind.

Super novel point but this whole global pandemic thing has really fucked us hasn’t it?

We’ve been put through the ringer in a whole host of different ways — emotionally, economically, socially. And at a systemic level, existing inequalities have deepened. Unsurprisingly, unemployment rates have surged — recently hitting the highest level for 3 years. Redundancies have also risen to the highest level since 2009.

As the furlough scheme comes to an end, to be replaced with a less generous support package (to say nothing of the industries that weren’t covered by the scheme in the first place, or those that the government seems to essentially be consciously allowing to go up in smoke), these trends seem set to continue.

Unfortunately, for those impacted, it’s not as simple as hanging up the ballet pumps and pirouetting straight into a job in cyber (seriously… cyber what? Security? Terrorism? So many questions…)

Competition for work right now is fierce, and the human cost of not finding it is immense. We know, for example, that there is a direct correlation between job loss and increased suicide risk, in particular for men.

Aside from this (and I know, so far this article is unlikely to have offered any cheer), there are a whole host of reasons why those currently looking for work might be experiencing poor mental health right now (or just not be feeling like their best selves). For those that might have experienced redundancy after a long period of being on furlough, there’s the cumulative impact of uncertainty — which we know our brains HATE.

In addition — whether you loved or hated your job, losing it is invariably pretty tough — just in different ways. The event itself can be distressing and leave you lacking in both confidence and closure. And if you were somewhere that you felt at home, then your experience of leaving may colour your overall experience of working there. Even if the company did everything in its power to make sure you felt supported (and in doing so, stayed true to its values) whilst finding your next adventure — there might be the loss of an immediate support network at a time when you need it now more than ever.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are still some genuinely great opportunities out there. But — if you’re reading this as a founder or a leader at a company that is still lucky enough to be hiring, we’re urging you in this article to be aware of the context you’re recruiting in and take a candidate experience focused, compassionate approach when scouting new talent. Read on for some practical tips on how to demonstrate kindness throughout your recruitment process — and why it matters.

Respond to everyone

Crafting a thoughtful response template that thanks someone for the time, energy and effort that they put into their application and for taking an interest in your role won’t take you much time at all. But recognising that it does indeed take time, emotional energy and effort for the human being behind the CV to submit an application, pays dividends.

Not only does responding to unsuccessful applicants provide them with closure — helping those individuals shift their focus to other opportunities — but it will help you too, in both the long and short term. Short term, you’ll have to deal with less ‘just checking you received my application’ emails and have more time to respond to candidates who are a better fit. Longer term, you don’t have a crystal ball. Just because a candidate isn’t a fit now, doesn’t mean they might not be a match in the future. They might have others in their network who could be right for the role and could be persuaded to put in an application on the basis of their recommendation. Or there’s always a chance that they might be a potential customer or have influence over other potential customers, who could be put off by hearing stories about the way those in their network have been treated by you.

N.B. The further you get into the application process with the candidate, the more important your response becomes. Take as much time to share feedback as you can if a candidate has got to the interview stage, so that they can understand the reasons behind your decision not to move forward. That way, even if it’s not the outcome they were hoping for, they can take something positive from the experience. People remember this. I’ve had rejected candidates previously share with me the profiles of others who might be a good fit for the role, or reconnect with me later down the line when they see a role that takes their fancy. Broadly speaking, the more reciprocity you weave into your hiring process, the more likely it is that you will build better, more sustainable talent pools for the long haul.

Be hyper aware of the temptation to hire in your own image

Right now, because there are a lot of fantastic people out there looking for new roles, the temptation is to get more specific with your requirements — either just as a way of filtering the sheer number of applications you’ve received, or, well — because you can. More often than not, getting specific with what you’re looking for means you’re hiring candidates who will bring you more of the same.

Although this seems intuitive (assuming your /current team members are also high performers), this temptation should be resisted at all costs. Why? Because a homogenous team might be superficially more harmonious, but it will also be less high performing overall. Take a sales team for example — some degree of competitiveness is a pretty universally accepted good thing. But over-index on it, and it can be toxic and undermine that team’s ability to onboard, support and upskill each other.

Instead, if you’re hiring right now consider what skills and experience are missing from your team that could help you be more successful — then hire for that to ensure you don’t miss out on people that could take your team to the next level. If you’re not sure where to start with identifying what’s missing from your team tools like Equalture can help.

For the love of god, don’t use this as an excuse to pay people less than their experience and their potential to impact your business is worth

I’ve heard some pretty mean-spirited comments recently about the amount of talent on the market meaning that you ‘can grab yourself a bargain.’ Aside from being a pretty gross way to talk about human beings, I can absolutely guarantee you that if you take advantage in this way, karma is going to come and bite you in the ass. Here are just a few reasons, should you need them:

  • It starts the employment relationship off with your new starter feeling undervalued — and undervalued team members are rarely motivated to give it their all
  • It shows a lack of investment in your new team member, meaning they’re more likely to jump ship as soon as things bounce back
  • It might mean that you create or worsen existing internal pay disparity — if your offer is out of whack with your normal pay structure or philosophy — it will be discovered sooner or later.

To wrap it up

This quote from Maya Angelou is one that we at team Unleashed find ourselves coming back to time and time again:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

If you’re privileged enough to still be hiring right now, I hope the above tips help you create a hiring process that not only helps you find great talent — without a tonne of extra effort — but also is sensitive to the context that you are hiring in.

Written by Unleashed’s Managing Partner Hannah Keal.

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