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Author: amanda

Building the Post-COVID Talent Acquisition Function (Part 1)

Every crisis creates both immediate and longer-term, permanent changes. We are seeing the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic play out in isolation procedures, quarantines, distance learning, mass testing, and contact tracing. When the crisis passes, however, these changes will give way to long-term changes that may be harder to see right now but will nonetheless become part of the new way of working.

For Talent Acquisition, we are already experiencing significant changes that, for many companies, represent radical departures from their pre-pandemic ways of working. Remote recruiting staffs, online interviews, electronic background checks, virtual orientations, and new hires starting work remotely have been adapted nearly instantaneously by employers.

But after this pandemic passes, how many of these changes will remain permanent? What long-term impacts will the COVID-19 crisis have on TA? This is Part One of a two-part series that examines how TA will be impacted long-term by the COVID-19 crisis so that TA functions can begin to build a function that is not only effective now, but also ready to be effective in the future.

COVID-19 Shows That We Can Recruit from Anywhere

Before COVID-19, many organizations required recruiters to work on-site most or all of the week. With the crisis forcing all recruiters to work from home, organizations have learned something that’s been true for many years: recruiting can be done from anywhere. All you need is a good internet connection and a reliable cell signal.

Recruiters working from home will remain a permanent feature for most organizations. This will require recruiters and hiring managers to develop some new skill sets. Recruiters will need to develop different relationship-building skills as they deal with candidates and hiring managers in completely remote ways. Hiring managers will need to be retooled in not only the mechanics of conducting interviews via online platforms, but also in interview skills and assessment techniques, which present different challenges online compared to face-to-face.

Increased Reliance on Zoom-Style Interviews for First-Level Vetting

Some of the new communication channels businesses will become accustomed to post-COVID will be video platforms such as Zoom. Video interviews will become the new standard for how organizations initially connect with and screen candidates, replacing traditional phone interviews. This requires training recruiters and managers on how to conduct initial screening interviews via video platforms effectively and legally.

Sourcing Problems Shift to Selection Problems

Before the pandemic, unemployment was hovering at 50-year lows. As a result, the biggest problem facing recruiting functions in nearly all industries was finding enough qualified candidates to fill interviewing slates.

Now, with over 38 million people filing for unemployment since March, the main recruiting challenge has shifted for many companies from sourcing enough candidates to selecting the right candidates from suddenly swollen pools. Shifting from a sourcing-centric function to a selection-centric one may require simple changes such as retooling recruiting team members in selection skills. Or, it could require more significant changes, such as restructuring the function or even hiring recruiters with different skill sets.

These are a few of the changes we see on the horizon. For more, read Part Two of this article.

Healthcare Provider Improves Service Delivery

Client Challenge

One of the largest healthcare providers in the mid-Atlantic region was facing some difficult market challenges:

  • Demand for services was rising steadily, in large part due to an aging local population.
  • Rapid growth was occurring in many of its specialized service lines.
  • Competition was mounting from both niche players and from large, multi-entity providers.
  • The regional talent pool contained limited talent in the most competitive and sought-after specialties.
  • As a result, the company’s vacancy rate had risen to over 9%, impacting the system’s ability to deliver care.

The client’s HR leadership team wanted to improve the recruiting function’s ability to fill openings faster and more accurately. They also wanted to ensure that the organization’s staffing function was optimally deployed to handle the aggressive business growth planned over the next five years.

To help them quickly identify opportunities for improvement, the health system decided to have DoubleStar’s team conduct a comprehensive review of the recruiting function’s structure, operations, and service delivery capabilities.

Our Solution

DoubleStar conducted a detailed review of the customer’s practices utilizing our comprehensive assessment methodology. The review focused on recruiting delivery structure and practices, candidate sourcing, applicant-flow processes, and candidate-management capabilities.

DoubleStar’s assessment included the following initiatives:

  • Conducted over 30 interviews with selected service leaders, key stakeholders in HR, and recruitment team members.
  • Reviewed existing staffing reports, materials, tools, templates, and utilization of their applicant-tracking system and conducted thorough process reviews and performance analyses.
  • Compared results to best practices in healthcare and in other similarly complex industries such as pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and technology.
  • Analyzed findings to determine the client’s ability to deliver against the enterprise’s current and future service demands.

The final deliverable included a detailed Roadmap for Change that enabled the client to make short- and medium-term improvements to its recruitment organization that increased operational efficiency and improved service delivery effectiveness to internal clients.

Business Impacts

A key finding of the assessment was that due to the strength of the existing recruiting function, the client was not a good candidate for an RPO solution. This enabled the client to focus its energies on immediately rebuilding the function to incorporate modern sourcing approaches and enhanced service delivery to key client groups.

The client also elected to implement three of DoubleStar’s strategic recommendations, focusing on building a new talent acquisition strategy, creating specialized recruitment roles for project management and sourcing, and enhancing the consulting skills of its in-house recruiters. The successful implementation of these initiatives resulted in a 100+% increase in hiring manager satisfaction scores over a one-year period.

Hospitals Can Match the COVID-19 Patient Surge

Many US Hospitals were facing significant staffing challenges before COVID-19 hit. Now, the surge in COVID-19 infected patients is overwhelming hospitals in ‘hot spot’ urban centers.  

Compounding the staffing problem is the high infection rate among clinical workers. In the hardest-hit areas, as many as 20-30% of clinical staff and frontline healthcare workers are becoming infected with coronavirus, taking them off-line for 14 days and creating a hole in the care delivery system that cannot easily be filled.

Not all hospitals face this problem today. But they surely will over the next few weeks. 

A number of smart solutions are already being implemented to help alleviate the severe staffing shortages our healthcare systems now face. Accelerating graduations for nurses and medical students, importing talent from other states/regions, moving retirees back into service, and allowing nurses to practice at the highest levels of their licensures are remedies that are making a difference.

Even with these measures, many hospitals will still not have enough clinical staff to handle the surge in patients they are or will be experiencing. 

To match the surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitals need to surge their staffing. Traditional staffing processes have hospitals filling RN openings in 20-60 days and MD openings in 3-6 months. These cycles need to be reduced to less than a week. To accomplish this, hospitals will need to immediately develop different staffing approaches using accelerated processes. 

Here’s what’s required to accelerate staffing processes:

  1. Create a central staffing control center that has clear visibility into all hiring requirements, all internal candidates, and all external market sources so that talent demand and supply can be assessed and resources deployed as critical needs develop.
  2. The biggest time-waster in any staffing process is the back-and-forth between HR and hiring managers for application review, interview set-up, conducting interviews, etc. In a crisis, the clinical delivery staff will not have time to devote to the massive, urgent interviewing required to fill positions quickly. The Staffing Center should be staffed with interviewers who can make clinical evaluations on behalf of the entire hospital in real-time. This single step will cut days and even weeks from traditional hiring processes.
  3. Give the Staffing Center the power to make hiring decisions quickly. This may involve relaxing standard hiring process requirements like background checks and reference-checking by allowing people to start working before these processes are completed. It may also require the ability to make on-the-spot offers and accelerate start dates to nearly immediately.
  4. Create a COVID-19 Staffing Portal for your Career Website, especially for per-diem workers. Require only essential information from candidates during the application process. Make it easy for the candidate to apply and provide responses to all applications within 24 hours. Compress onboarding time as much as possible.
  5. Move candidates from resume/application review straight into interviews using Skype or Zoom (or other video tools). Set high-volume interview schedules and interviewing staff in advance, and populate those schedules based on the strength of the resume/application review. There will be no time for additional screening steps.
  6. Open the gates to hire Diploma Nurses and LPNs. All trained clinical specialists will be needed to get through the surge in caseloads.
  7. Target clinicians who work outside of hospitals. In any market, only 50-60% of all licensed RNs work in acute care hospitals. It’s time to target the other 40+%.
  8. To accomplish all of the above, overstaff the Staffing Center, not only with recruiters but with clinical screeners, administrators, and on-boarders. You will need more staff than you think to accomplish the new speed objectives.

Accelerating staffing cycles is not easy, especially in healthcare where credentialing and quality considerations have always driven process decisions. And please don’t misunderstand relaxing some of the hiring process rules to gain speed with lowering the quality of hiring standards—they are not at all the same and making quality hires should still be paramount for all process decisions. 

Hiring in a crisis requires a highly accelerated process, and rational trade-offs will need to be made in order to meet surging demands for trained workers. If you haven’t started changing your processes today, you are probably already behind.

Surviving the Sudden Shift To Recruiting From Home

Two weeks ago, you had a 30-minute commute and a fairly routine schedule. This week, your dining room has been turned into a home office, and you’re navigating the strange new world of working remotely.

At DoubleStar, we have been working remotely since 1993. With so many of our clients working remotely for the first time, we thought we would share the best practices we’ve learned over the years from delivering recruitment services remotely. This Is not a comprehensive list, but rather our best advice for making sure that you can make an impact from working at home that will hopefully equal the impact you are used to making working on-site.

  • Make sure you are clear on the overall direction and your goals from your leadership team. Ask questions to clarify what new/different things you will be responsible for delivering.
  • Schedule time to reset expectations with your hiring managers during the first week. Confirm current priorities and explain any temporary changes in the recruitment process, roles, and responsibilities.          
  • Increase communication with your key stakeholders, including hiring managers and teammates. This will help you to provide regular updates on your progress as well as stay on top of any new developments with their priorities or strategies.   
  • If you have the technology, use Teams, Skype or Zoom when possible for critical meetings. Face-to-face video interactions can be just as meaningful as sitting across from someone and more impactful than a phone call.
  • Strive to return all voice messages and emails promptly. If your calendar is blocked for specific recruitment activities, send your leader or hiring manager a quick email and let them know you saw their message and will be available at a specific time to discuss.
  • If you don’t currently track your activity (i.e. a report from the ATS or Excel) start now. Not all managers are comfortable, at first, having remote employees. When you can show your activity, it will quickly help to build trust as you navigate this new normal.
  • The labor market in some industries is about to drastically change regarding candidate availability. Stay up to date on the external market trends and communicate news to all stakeholders so that you can be seen as the expert by your hiring managers.
  • If you encounter roadblocks in identifying candidates or filling your positions, raise those concerns early on. Don’t wait to deliver the bad news and re-plan the approach. Be direct and honest with your manager(s) and offer a solution when possible. 
  • Speaking of candidates, the conversation that you normally would have with them in person might feel a little different over the phone or the Internet. Take some time to prepare how you are going to introduce your company and the opportunity considering today’s climate. 
  • Make sure that you explain your current hiring process to potential candidates. For example, if they are selected to progress to a hiring manager phone screen or video chat, but that is as far as it will go for now, tell them that up front. 
  • Develop a communication plan to keep your viable candidates warm. Consider touching base with them once a week via text, email or telephone to stay connected and up to date on their status.

Remember, while our current situation seems unnerving, it will hopefully be temporary. If you are fortunate and your business has not halted hiring, you can continue to make an impact. Focus on the things that you can control including the frequency and speed of your communication, your overall sense of urgency, tracking your activity/progress in a report, and sharing your knowledge/expertise in recruitment. Stay positive and stay in touch and you will be in great shape to support your employer no matter where the location.

Three Common Interviewing Mistakes To Avoid

In helping our clients make thousands of hires over the years, we’ve seen even the most experienced hiring managers make interviewing and hiring mistakes. Of those, there are three that stand out as the most common, and therefore, the easiest to recognize and avoid.

It’s easy to think that these mistakes are most often made by newer, less experienced hiring managers. But, in a surprising number of cases, we’ve seen senior managers and executives make these same mistakes. Good hiring requires taking a disciplined approach to interviewing and selection, many managers have too little training and too little practice in interviewing to do it well. Knowing these three common mistakes will help you self-diagnose and improve your selection accuracy.

Mistake #1: Not Understanding What Capabilities Are Required for Success

Most managers take the time to write their list of job requirements. However, the requirements are only part of what will make a new hire successful in your organization. Think of it this way: if two candidates possess the exact same set of job skills, how do you know which one will be more successful in your organization? That answer can’t be found in the job requirements. 

Remember that you are hiring a human being, not just a set of skills. It is critical to look beyond the job requirements, and deeper into the candidate’s capabilities and characteristics. Are they an individual contributor in a role that requires high collaboration? How do they handle setbacks in their work? Do they listen and take direction easily, or will every project require negotiation to get them on board? Are they fast learners, or are they resistant to learning new things? Will their ways of working and personality blend well with existing team members, or will they clash? 

Many managers over-rely on an assessment of technical capabilities to drive their hiring decision. They do this because it is relatively easy to assess those capabilities compared to assessing the ‘softer’ areas of performance. Our advice: understand the human capabilities that are required for success in your work group, and interview to gain an accurate assessment of those. Often, a new hire fails because of a bad human fit, not a bad technical fit.

Mistake #2. Relying on ‘Gut Feel’

“Gut feel” is a phrase that should be banned from hiring discussions. It means that the hiring manager hasn’t gathered any evidence about the candidate’s capabilities to perform. It’s just a guess.

Hiring is not a social activity, and simply liking someone, or being struck by a positive impression that someone might make on you, is not a reason to hire them. The first purpose of an interview is to gather facts and evidence about a candidate’s capabilities to execute the work that they will be assigned. You need to gather as many facts about someone’s knowledge, abilities, attitude, and future potential as you can in order to accurately assess their potential in your organization. 

When managers rely on ‘gut feel’, they are replacing evidence and facts with a vague notion about someone’s likability. Likability is a nice trait for anyone to have, but it is hardly a sufficient reason on which to base a hiring decision.

Our advice: focus interview time on gathering facts and evidence about a candidate’s past work performance, their successes and challenges, and the outcomes that they achieved. 

Mistake #3. Hiring in Your Own Likeness

We all have a tendency to like people who share similarities to us. We like people who went to our college, grew up in our neighborhood, or who have similar travel experiences to us. 

In interviewing, we often see managers make the mistake equating similarities in backgrounds and experiences with high competence. The thinking goes like this: “I went to an Ivy League school; I worked at a Big 4 firm; and I am very successful here. This candidate went to an Ivy League school; they worked a different Big 4 firm; and therefore they will be very successful here too.”

We call this hiring a Mini-Me.  

It’s pretty easy to see that these co-incidental similarities have nothing to do with someone’s ability to perform in a given role in a given environment. But it’s also easy to see how this kind of thinking can creep into assessment decisions and create a false positive about a candidate.

Our advice: stick to discovering facts and gathering supporting evidence in an interview. Don’t be seduced by outward similarities that may not translate into job performance.

While there are many other possible interview and selection mistakes, avoiding these three can make a big difference in how well hiring managers can more accurately assess a candidate’s likelihood of success in their organization.

Is Your Talent Acquisition Team Ready for the Next Normal?

One of the logical responses to the pandemic taken by business leaders has been to put recruiting and hiring on hold. Certainly, a reasonable strategy until the crisis is better understood and plans can be developed to recover and return to a new path forward. With the current understanding of the effort that will be needed to reopen the economy, it might be some time before business leaders are comfortable with resuming normal hiring practices.

  • What are you doing to build and maintain your active candidate pipeline?
  • Does your team have an on-demand talent community ready to be activated when needed?
  • Are you proactively communicating with your candidate pipeline to provide updates and information?
  • Are your virtual recruiting efforts leaving candidates wondering where they stand in your hiring process?

How companies recruit top talent has dramatically changed in a short period of time. Once the economy reopens – where will you begin? Will you be ready for the “Next Normal?” One of the ways we have been helping our clients over the past few years is with our Talent Scouting Services. Talent Scouting takes a proactive approach now to identify, build and engage active talent pipelines to meet approaching growth initiatives. This is exactly what many organizations need during this unanticipated “break” from customary practices to be prepared for their “next normal” recruiting demands.

DoubleStar’s Talent Scouting methodology has combined our multi-layered candidate research initiatives with refined methods of direct candidate engagement to introduce specialized opportunities to targeted candidate pools. This approach provides engaged, qualified, interested, and suitable candidates to recruiters for direct contact. DoubleStar’s Talent Scouts will identify and engage potential candidates to:

  • Introduce and present specialized positions and organizational value propositions
  • Evaluate credentials and assess interest levels
  • Confirm location and travel requirements
  • Review compensation and experience levels
  • Gauge overall hiring fit and viability
  • Continue efforts and communication to maintain an active pipeline for future hires

Talent Scouting provides customized candidate targeting for current and/or future openings and features current candidate profiles. This initiative will also identify and source passive candidate prospects direct from competitors as well as similar or targeted organizations. All prospect and candidate data identified during the project will become a recruitment asset for future hires and the sole property of the client.