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How to recruit during the Coronavirus lockdown and beyond

The Covid 19 lockdown has brought some South African businesses to a complete standstill but switched others into overdrive. Few businesses have been able to continue as normal.

As some businesses scrambled to switch into work-from-home mode (eg banks, telcos, law firms, IT firms), others have had to shut entirely (eg restaurants, bars). Still others have swung wildly the other way, with demand going through the roof (supermarkets, delivery services and hospitals).

At the time of writing, the lockdown was due to end on 30 April. Even if it is not extended, the rules of social distancing and regular sanitation are likely to remain for many months. And there remains a high likelihood of additional lockdowns over the next 12 months if the infection rate resurges.

As a consequence, businesses need to adapt to the new Covid reality quickly if they are to survive the next few gruelling months. Cost management and revenue diversification are obvious requirements. But managing HR and recruitment is another key factor which must be addressed.

Giraffe has interviewed customers from a range of sectors- from security to media to call centres- to understand how their recruitment patterns and techniques have evolved to adapt to the new reality. Here we highlight some of the methods to ensure your recruitment and onboarding can remain solid in this complex period.


  1. Build a candidate pipeline even if you’re not hiring now

Many businesses have put recruitment on hold. However, even if you’re not recruiting now, the current lull is an excellent time to build a talent pool for when things return to normal. Remember that many candidates will be at home- either unable to work in their current jobs or actively seeking alternatives. It’s therefore an excellent time to find talent that might be otherwise inaccessible.

  1. Put recruitment on steroids if you’re an essential service

Some clients we spoke to- particularly logistics and delivery companies- are booming thanks to coronavirus. These companies are desperately seeking staff at a time when most people are staying at home. The most successful ones are expanding their sourcing channels, using multiple job platforms simultaneously to get the widest candidate reach. If you are an essential service business, don’t stick to one sourcing channel but try many in parallel.

  1. Switch from offline to online sourcing

Some businesses have put recruitment on hold because their selection process is intrinsically face-to-face. This is a grave error. Some of our most high performing clients have switched from offline to online recruitment in order to keep the process going. For example, a major security guard company has banned all walk-in applicants (they were getting more than 50 per day) and moved to online candidate sourcing- using digital platforms to find suitable candidates. Online recruitment might sound daunting if you haven’t done it before, but there are many tools that can increase the number of quality of candidates you can reach whilst also reducing the time taken to recruit. Check out our article on this here.

  1. Reduce the amount of face to face contact during the recruitment process

Nearly all the businesses we spoke to have abandoned face to face interviews in the early stages and substituted this with telephonic or video interviews. Zoom is an excellent tool for video interviews- it’s both free and has excellent quality. Alternatively, WhatsApp video interviewing is another popular method. WhatsApp can also be used to send documents such as ID and education certificates, enabling businesses to manage almost the entire recruitment process without physically interacting with candidates.

  1. Implement social distancing when interviewing in person

Most businesses we spoke to did have at least one face to face interview- at the very final stage. The most important thing is to ask the candidate if they have any symptoms on the day before the interview. If they do, postpone the interview and get the candidate tested. If they don’t interviewers should be given masks and ensure they sit at least 2 metres away from the candidate during the interview process. The conventional handshake greeting should be substituted for Cyril’s elbow bump.

Importantly, most businesses we spoke to had switched their interview times to the morning- to coincide with the lockdown public transport timetable- which has one slot in the morning and another in the afternoon- 5am to 10am and 4pm to 8pm.

  1. Repurpose roles to work from home if possible

We have recently seen an uptick in the amount of jobs that were previously thought to only be office based moving to working from home mode. With the reduction of data costs, increased smart-phone penetration and improved connectivity including WiFi on the rise perhaps it is time to consider whether there are roles within your organisation that can be performed remotely. A well-known call centre has been able to do just that. By investigating the right technology available and combining it with their staff resources they have been able to continue serving their clients, paying their staff and operating business as usual

  1. Use hygienic practice when onboarding and operating

All businesses have added a layer of hygiene and sanitation whilst onboarding new candidates and operating essential functions. For example, all new recruits are given facemasks if they need to perform field work. No more than 2 people are allowed to travel in company vehicles. And hand sanitiser is being provided in both vehicles and the workplace. You can see Covid-19 guidelines in the workplace from the Department of Labour here.

Finally, businesses should invest in getting candidates tested for Covid on a periodic basis. Ask candidates to take an assessment questionnaire during the recruitment process. If this shows they might have had or might be having a Covid 19 infection, get them tested. Whilst the availability of testing is currently limited, capacity will increase in the coming weeks and ongoing monitoring will ensure business continuity.

There is little doubt that the current crisis is challenging businesses of all types. Those that are successful in navigating this period will be the ones that not only manage cost and diversify revenue, but also keep a close eye on the people side of the business, ensuring that talent continues to be sourced and recruited effectively


About Giraffe

Giraffe is a job platform that automatically screens candidates so you don’t have to. Giraffe enables South African businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the boring parts of the recruitment process– candidate sourcing and screening– business owners and recruiters can focus on more important tasks like interviewing the best candidates and managing retention. Simply post a job on Giraffe. Let Giraffe automatically screen candidates as they apply. Log in, see which candidates have passed your screening, listen to their voice notes and hire the best ones! 

To post a job on Giraffe click here


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