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Recruiting and hiring challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic

Public sector entities in need of key workforce personnel, such as city or county managers and administrators, city or county attorneys, fire chiefs, police chiefs and other departmental directors are in an unenviable position as the COVID-19 crisis continues to spread, causing apprehension and disrupting essential business processes. Organizations need the talent, but hiring during the pandemic presents several potential challenges that may lead to the following questions:

  • What impact will COVID-19 have on my organization and how will those impacts influence position qualifications?
  • Will qualified applicants apply, especially those in critical roles within their current organizations? Will loyalty to their current employer override the attractiveness of a new position?
  • Will participation in a recruitment process, which requires candidates’ time and potential for public disclosure of their application, create the possibility of losing their current job in an extremely challenging economic climate?
  • Will candidates realistically consider relocation in this environment? What strategies can be used to facilitate an attractive relocation opportunity?
  • Will the potential of attracting lesser quality candidates lead to the selection of a less-than-ideal placement, thus resulting in a longer learning curve that could negatively impact organizational performance?

Some guidance to address these challenges include:

  • Assess the importance of the position and the necessity of hiring at this time, rather than in 90 to 120 days, when health and economic conditions could improve.
  • Consider the possibility of utilizing an interim placement, whether from within the organization or from an external interim placement service.
  • Evaluate organizational alignment and examine potentially consolidating positions on a short-term or even long-term basis, recognizing that it may be necessary to reassess priorities.
  • Proactively develop an attractive recruitment strategy now, to be executive when health and economic conditions improve

If you conclude that it is imperative to recruit for a position(s) immediately, some key considerations include:

  • Be prepared for longer timelines as additional direct candidate contact will be required.
  • Be prepared for potential additional costs as organizations may need to expand advertising efforts
  • Be flexible with the hiring process and acknowledge how the pandemic is affecting candidates as well as your organization. Understand candidates’ tolerance for onsite interviews that observe social distancing.
  • Offer video interview option for top candidates and intermediate meetings with your staffing consultant. Baker Tilly has recently developed remote, web-based final interview processes that satisfy open meeting requirements. To ensure that local transparency requirements are met, your city/county attorney should be consulted.

If Baker Tilly can assist your organization in evaluating whether to begin or defer an executive recruitment, please contact one of our search consultants:

Edward Williams

Patty Heminover

Art Davis

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help, contact our team.

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