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How to adjust your recruiting pitch (employer value proposition) during COVID-19

Have you ever watched the movie, “The Intern?” The one where Robert De Niro decides he’s not ready for retirement, so he applies to become a senior intern for a trendy online fashion website. Anne Hathaway is his boss. Does it ring a bell? If not, here is a link to the synopsis.

While I’m not interested in talking about the plot today, I would like you to take note of the set design. You can check out the swanky office space that the movie takes place in here.

De Niro’s character is thrown for a loop when he enters the modern office setting. The workspace resembles many of today’s new set ups, which are a big part of pre-COVID employer value propositions (EVPs).

An EVP is composed of the unique ingredients’ companies use to make them a distinctly great place to work for the type of people they are trying to attract and hire. EVP’s are promises made to current and future employees. They form the basis of employer branding efforts.

A company’s EVP is usually built to last, only requiring small adjustments from time to time. The pandemic, however, has forced some to create exceptions to this rule.

On August fourth, Chief Public Health Officer, Teresa Tam announced that physical distancing, including the usage of masks in indoor public spaces, may continue for the next two to three years. These safety measures will potentially be required regardless if there is a vaccine.

If Canada decides to keep some of their COVID-19 work-from-home restrictions in place for the next few years, companies will have to restructure their EVP’s to match the future employment landscape. Otherwise they risk communicating an unrealistic promise to future employees.

This may result in the loss of the candidate’s trust because the company may give off the impression that they are not taking the pandemic seriously or worse, that they are generally out of touch.

Today’s current climate does not match the pristine stories that we watch on the silver screen. Life is a lot more uncertain. Companies are no longer able to promote their beautiful offices and in-person social events like those in the movie, “The Intern.”

Instead, companies must find ways to re-orient their EVPs and messages. This is unchartered territory for many, so if your company is feeling a bit stuck, we have a few simple steps that may help.

Discussions with local human resource pros indicates that there is still a desire to build companies around an office environment. There is an anticipation of a return, at least in part, to a traditional office environment with in-person collaboration.

With Teresa Tam’s recent announcement however, it seems unlikely that this will be a reality anytime soon.

If companies are unable to recognize that the current situation could last longer than expected, their message to talent could lack authenticity and grow stale.

It’s time for an adjustment.

The first step is to examine the message you are currently providing talent and the experiences you are promoting throughout the candidate’s journey.

Do you want to know how to do this? We broke the process down for you into three easy to follow steps.

It’s simple: become a secret shopper by reviewing your EVP and your candidate experience to determine whether or not it has drifted too far from reality.

Step 1: Research your own company

Remember when your mom told you to put yourself in the shoes of others to understand their experiences? Well, the same rule applies when you are acting as a secret candidate shopper.

You may choose to research your own company through systematic review, but it is more effective to follow your mother’s words and put yourself in the shoes of talent.

It is time to play pretend like you did as a kid, and imagine you are a job seeker. Google jobs at YourCo.

Go to your career page after to research your company and ask yourself some questions.

Is it current?

Does the idea that you are selling to prospective talent make sense, or is it out of touch with the current reality?

Are there any recent employee reviews?

Do you outline how your company is adjusting to COVID-19?

How have your responded to those reviews?

Step 2: Apply for a job

Now it’s time to play pretend a little bit more. Discover your company’s job ads on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Glassdoor and read through your copy. Does everything still apply in the context of the pandemic? Do the changes or lack of changes align with your EVP?

Then, apply and review all of your candidate communications. Do they make sense in the context of how you have adjusted your hiring process?

Are you giving people enough information?

Consider adding a FAQ, or a “How we Hire” section to your communications/careers page to let candidates know how the screening and interview process works.

Step 3: Follow through to the interview

There is a lot of uncertainty attached to the interview process today. COVID-19 has people jumping through extra hurdles only for them to reach the same destination.

So, while you’re at it, you might as well execute the entire process to understand the entire candidate experience.

Have you accurately reflected the switch to remote interviewing in your communication templates?

Are you providing enough guidance about the tech you’ll use in the interview process?

The tips above don't just apply to a post-apocalyptic job market. You can use the secret-shopper approach to audit your talent message every once in a while.

Remember, your EVP is a promise and if you are lucky or clever enough to land great people. It is a promise you will need to keep.

That is why it is imperative that your message matches the current worldly landscape. Once you do this, you can work on maintaining a consistent journey for your candidate- it will help build trust and will likely set your company apart from the crowd.

If you really want to elevate your EVP, go deeper in structuring those elements to establish why people are invested in your company. Your authenticity will shine through.

Even if you cannot provide your future employees with a swanky office like the one Robert De Niro stepped into on the set of “The Intern,” you can offer your candidates a transparent plan that is long lasting.

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