How to cope with the high demand for key workers in a challenging working environment

As we navigate our way through these uncertain and strange times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a huge impact upon the recruitment behaviours of companies across the UK. As the country entered lockdown we began to see a lot of businesses putting certain hiring requirements on hold, with Indeed reports suggesting job posts have halved from this time last year. Where some areas of your business can cope with this pause in activity, there of course will be some roles that are increasing in demand that have a much more urgent need to be filled – those of key workers. Key workers are essential to help our country cope with this crisis, and this includes healthcare workers, those working within the food and food retail industry, utility workers, government workers, key public services such as postmen, logistics and delivery drivers, transport and public safety / security workers. Many of these job requirements will of course fall under the high-volume recruitment sector, and if you are looking to hire in any of these areas you may be feeling the pressure both from a time perspective but a resource perspective too as many HR and recruitment teams find themselves either working from home, or even furloughed with recruitment falling under the responsibility of your company leaders instead. Here are six ways you can support your efforts to recruit high volumes of key workers.

Increase Reach of your Vacancies

As with any high-volume recruitment requirement, you will need to bang the drum and ensure that you market your opportunities widely enough that the relevant candidates will be able to see them. This means not only posting to more places, but also structuring the content of your adverts effectively through keyword repetition to allow your vacancy to be better optimised on platforms such as the job boards. Job boards are a great starting point to market your opportunities but remember to look at avenues such as social media as well especially as there are a lot of organic features that allow you to share your vacancies free of charge.

Share your purpose and story

Sharing your vacancies far and wide is of course recommended, however now more than ever candidates are looking to join companies with purpose and values that they share themselves. Rather than just sharing job posts that only hints a little into who you are as an employer, back this up with lots of content that showcases your employer brand and culture as an employer. Many companies are also choosing this time to share positive content that highlights their workforce of key workers, so this is a really great way to tell your story in a very relevant way. For example Amazon recently shared a video thanking their retail heroes, delivery people and warehouse specialists who are doing everything they can to provide people with essential items during the pandemic:

Amazon have also shared a number of other videos that show how the work their employees are doing is making a positive impact on peoples lives during the pandemic, reiterating that the safety and health of employees is always a priority:

Use technology to manage response

To attract high volumes of suitable hires you will inevitably need to attract an even larger number of total applicants, making managing responses time consuming and sometimes difficult to keep on top of. A good applicant tracking system will allow you to track all applications you receive, select suitable candidates to move through the process and respond to everyone in a timely fashion, something that is crucial to protect your wider employer brand. Ideally your ATS will allow you to send automated yet personalised emails to candidates for things such as organising telephone interviews and delivering feedback, meaning every candidate can still receive a great service and experience despite you having to manage multiple applications. These systems are also incredibly useful for collaborating between teams when remote working (as many of us are right now), keeping all candidate data in once secure place so that you can invite hiring managers or other key decision makers to collaborate on the hiring process.

Engage trusted suppliers

For many businesses internal recruitment teams have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some employees furloughed or some focussing more time on areas such as HR to help the business cope with the pandemic. For this reason you may experience an even greater strain than usual to manage recruitment internally, so do not be afraid of engaging trusted suppliers to help you cope with the demand. This could be recruitment agencies, RPO’s, marketing agencies or even job board account managers. Depending on the job role you are looking to fill, and the time you need to fill this by your suppliers should be able to indicate estimated costs / fees so that you can manage your budget accordingly.

Consider a wider candidate pool

While some key workers require strict qualifications and experience such as NHS healthcare workers, there are some roles that will be suitable for a variety of candidates despite them not having previous experience in the same role. In a normal recruitment market, candidates that appear overqualified or have experience that doesn’t exactly match what you are looking for could be discounted, but during the pandemic you will find a higher number of candidates being open to different opportunities. For example we have seen people who have been made redundant in industries such as marketing or recruitment joining new organisations in functions such as retail or delivery drivers to help support the country during the pandemic.

Video interview tools

Right now we need to do as much as we can to protect our health and the health of others, so where possible try to conduct any candidate assessments or interviews virtually. Video interviews are a great option as you still get the face-to-face feel and impression from the candidate without having to step outside of your home. Click here to find out about the Searchability Go Interview tool which is available to all clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are looking to recruit key workers urgently through the COVID-19 pandemic then has a number of solutions that could help including low cost recruitment solutions and targeted marketing campaigns aimed at attracting high levels of candidates directly to you. Every solution will come with no onboarding costs to help support you with your efforts to hire key workers, and all will be managed by our team of recruitment and employer brand experts to ensure you protect your employer brand throughout the hiring process. Get in touch at [email protected] today.

Sophie Hopley – Employer Brand Consultant at

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