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Now Is an Unprecedented Opportunity to Hire Great Talent

While the Covid-19 pandemic hits and reshapes companies, industries, national economies, and our society in previously unthinkable ways, business leaders need to think beyond survival to the opportunities this crisis might create, not only for their own organizations but the greater good. Chief among these is a chance to hire talented people at a time when they might have trouble finding or keeping jobs elsewhere.

The pool of available talent is suddenly both changing and expanding, and visionary leaders can make the most of it, preparing the ground for post-crisis recovery and growth. This starts with getting in contact with the right people.  

Seizing the Opportunity

So, how should visionary leaders go about capturing this once-in-a-century hiring opportunity? Through urgent and disciplined engagement in several initiatives:

Ask your top leaders to list three to five great players they would have liked to have hired over the past five years and then check in with those people.

These will probably be individuals they frequently deal with (as suppliers, advisors, clients), or even assessed as past potential candidates. In your next executive team meeting, discuss everyone’s selections, rank them in terms of attractiveness for and to your company, and agree on who to contact. It’s possible that many will now be open to considering an offer because their circumstances have changed.

Set up a task force to source potential candidates from target sectors and companies who may now be either jobless or open to change.

Bring in the most promising new hires from target sectors and companies. All companies should bring this level of focus and discipline to sourcing potential candidates, especially during this period. At this time, executive recruiters are stepping up their efforts to scout for outstanding people in key functions, particularly ones coming from hard-hit sectors.

Interview and check references remotely with the same rigor you would in person.

Thanks to modern technology, we have the ability to replicate all of our traditional hiring processes and procedures in remote, physically distanced settings. Telephone calls and video conferences are a must. And then follow the same guidelines for great recruitment experts have described for years. Outline the qualities and competencies you’re looking for in a new hire before you start; at this time of flux, give heavy weight to soft skills, including inspirational leadership, change management, collaboration, and influencing, as well as the potential to keep growing, learning, and adapting to new circumstances. Such potential will stem from their curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination, on top of the right motivation. Ask behavior-based questions, such as “Could you tell me about a time you led your team through a big transition?” Record your thoughts and observations about how the person measures up to your initial metrics as soon as you’re done.

Go out of your way to motivate the best candidates. 

Once you are convinced that you have the opportunity to bring in someone you really want, arrange to have the person speak to senior leaders who can share their love and passion for your company and describe the value they hope to build with the new colleague. Pay can be important but research shows that what truly motivates knowledge workers is a high level of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In these trying times, flexible work arrangements will no doubt continue to be key, as will the chance to keep on learning and growing while working to build something larger than ourselves.

This pandemic has created unprecedented trauma around the world. The economic fallout will be equally painful for many. It can be tempting to focus on the short term of crisis management. But when we emerge from this unfolding tragedy, it will be the long-term thinkers who not only survive but thrive. If your organization is well-capitalized and visionary enough to hire for lasting greatness, now is the time.

Source: Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

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