The COVID-19 crisis has led to many new and unique challenges that each of us abruptly needs to face both personally and professionally.

From social isolation and worrying about loved ones, to figuring out a COVID-19 contingency plan and learning to work remotely, HR and talent acquisition professionals are dealing with lots of new territory at this time.

The team here at InFlight is dealing with these same issues and challenges. And one area that has emerged as a big question mark for us in the past week is: how do we adjust candidate communications during this unprecedented period?

Several of InFlight’s customers are in sectors that are critical to the national and global response to COVID-19, so it’s critical for their business operations and recruitment to continue throughout the crisis. The team here at InFlight is in regular contact with our customers helping them navigate the emerging events with recommendations on what, where, and how to communicate with candidates.

We’ve spent much time over the last week researching emerging best practices and we wanted to share the outcome of that work. We hope that you will find our tips helpful in determining your own organization’s approach to candidate communications over the coming weeks.

 

How to communicate with candidates today in light of COVID-19:

 

1. Create a COVID-19 candidate communications plan

A great candidate experience is rooted in consistent and effective communications across every touchpoint in the candidate journey. 

During a time of crisis, like the one we’re faced with today, communications are even more important for your candidate experience. Because there is so much uncertainty, candidates need to receive clear and open communications at every turn to ease anxieties and make them feel comfortable moving forward in your process.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to create a candidate communications plan or update your existing one. This plan should list out the main information you want to convey about your company, workforce, and opportunities during this tumultuous period. 

From there, the plan should map out all of the touchpoints where this messaging needs to be rolled out across the candidate journey. You can use this plan to stay organized and think through factors like: approvals required, timelines for publishing, and the suggested copy (or messaging) itself.

 

 

2. Imagine yourself as a job seeker

When adjusting your candidate communications, it might be helpful to put yourself in your candidate’s shoes to determine what messaging to use.

You could consider doing a group brainstorm to talk through what candidates might be experiencing throughout the stages of your hiring funnel at present. Your team can ask yourselves: what sorts of concerns, anxieties, fears, and hopes might we be experiencing if we were job seekers today? It’s a good idea to reference some of these points when building out your communications plan and copy.

If you’re wondering what this empathetic approach might look like in action, here’s a quick example. 

During the initial attraction stage, prospective candidates might be thinking to themselves, “now isn’t the right time to consider a new opportunity, with so much in flux.” Given this prospective mindset, it becomes important that communications during the attraction stage speak to that concern. Which brings us to our next few pointers on your actual content approach during this crisis:

 

 

3. Reassure candidates about your company and workforce impacts

When it comes to sharing what your company is all about in the current climate, we’d recommend placing an emphasis on stability and the measures you’re taking to ensure that employees remain safe. 

Since it feels like everything is changing really quickly right now, explain all of the ways that your company offers stable employment in some of your up-front attraction collateral, like on careers social profiles, job descriptions, and on your careers home page.

One way you might do this is by explaining how your company is still well poised to succeed and thrive despite the economic downturns that the global pandemic is causing. Make sure your recruiting team is also armed with the right information here, because it will be a frequently asked question that candidates have on their mind over the coming months.

Further, explain how your company’s operations have shifted to address the COVID-19 crisis. Candidates want to understand what kind of employer you are, and the way your company has addressed COVID-19 sends clear signals about your company values.

You should share ways that your hiring process and onboarding processes have changed to keep candidates and new hires safe during a vulnerable time. You can also explain what measures your company is taking to protect employees while continuing to do great work during this time (like working from home, the introduction of any new sick leave or PTO policies, etc.).

 

 

4. Explain why the particular opportunity matters 

When it comes to your job descriptions themselves, and selling the opportunity via recruiter reach-outs, recruitment marketing content, and candidate conversations, your hiring team may want to spend a bit of time discussing why each requisition matters in light of COVID-19.

Because candidates are going to be a little more risk-averse in the near future, they will need to have an understanding of the bigger picture: why this job matters now for your organization.

In addition to spending time illustrating why the company’s future performance is still stable, you’ll want to communicate why a given role is essential to the business’ success. This way candidates will feel comfortable moving forward in your process because they won’t look at the role as a superfluous position that’s likely to be eliminated in the coming months.

 

 

5. Develop or re-examine your employee value proposition

You’ll also want to spend some time thinking about your employee value proposition (or EVP for short). In case you haven’t heard this term before, your EVP is typically composed of a series of statements (often called pillars) that answer the question “what’s in it for me if I join your company?” EVPs typically showcase how a company differs from hiring competitors and areas of the culture and employee experience that might be appealing to prospective candidates.

If you don’t already have an EVP, it might be a good moment to begin asking employees what they value about working at your organization and thinking about the factors that would help to set you apart and persuade candidates to apply. Gartner provides a good template for developing an EVP if you don’t know where to get started.

If you do already have an EVP, this is a good time to revisit it and make sure that your EVP still holds up in the current atmosphere. For example, if your team is working remotely, you won’t want to emphasize in-office cultural factors that don’t apply right now. You might also consider if there are some new items you would add in regards to your remote working culture that might be appealing to candidates. I.e., maybe the way your team works remotely is far better than the way their current team works remotely because of reason xyz.

The bottom line though (regardless of whether you’re identifying a new EVP or modifying an existing one) is that it’s more important now than ever before to clearly communicate why a candidate should want to join your team and publicize that across all touchpoints.

We hope these candidate communications tips are useful for your team to consider as you adjust your hiring process and candidate experience in light of COVID-19. Our team has more resources coming out soon to help manage your remote employee experience during this tricky time.

Lastly, while there are many areas outside of your life at work that are likely dominating your focus at present, we know that protecting and supporting your company and workforce given economic considerations is an important task too. Thank you for the work you’re putting in to provide a positive candidate and employee experience to lift others up during a tough time. We hope you, your family, and your colleagues stay safe and healthy throughout these events.

 

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