How To Recruit During A Global Pandemic

As we continue to navigate unchartered waters during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the local television industry is quickly adapting to a mostly virtual work environment. Whoever envisioned news and local weather forecasts being delivered from home “offices” by media professionals across the country?

As we adapt on the fly to a very fluid situation in real-time, most companies have shifted to remote operations for the safety of their employees and for the good of the country. However, the hiring process to find and attract top media talent cannot just grind to a complete stop just because personnel are not physically located at their stations and corporate offices, especially if they have a critical opening.

The threat of coronavirus does not mean nobody is hiring or that media industry candidates are not aggressively looking for new opportunities. What is the timeline to get back to some sense of normalcy? June? July? August? We simply do not know yet. So, what to do?

As a society and industry, we are slowly moving out of the shock stage of the social distancing and work-from-home challenge and crossing into a new reality. However, stations still have a business to run and perhaps job openings to fill, and there are still candidates out there to fill them.

There are also still revenue and ratings goals to hit. Stations should keep their job postings fresh and visible. They should also continue to check their candidate pipeline, be it email submissions or within their applicant tracking systems. It is imperative to notify candidates who are currently in the recruiting process pipeline regarding where they stand and the timeline to move forward or not, as the case may be.

Candidates will remember and appreciate stations and media groups that communicate to them in a professional and personalized manner throughout these trying times. This is a direct reflection of corporate culture.

Stations also need to make immediate common-sense changes to their standard recruiting process, such as using video conferencing tools for interviews. We are learning that we can most likely digitize our standard workflow. As we adapt to our new reality, stations should consider creating a virtual recruiting process, reporting structure and onboarding process.

Can one really hire new employees without meeting them in person or without a candidate stepping foot onsite? As we enter a new paradigm, probably so. While the sudden change to fulltime remote work may well be challenging for some industries, local TV is uniquely qualified to lead this charge.

We are already seeing this with virtual control rooms and news sets. We have the technology, expertise and talent. Stations should consider creating a virtual office tour to show potential candidates/new hires or create virtual “day in the life” videos showcasing different job roles. It may be essential to offer remote work to your new hires until this situation settles.

Almost everyone is anxious as we feel our way through this situation. But at the same time, there has been an influx of candidates reaching out to explore new opportunities. The media’s first wave of downsizing as a direct result of this pandemic is already occurring. Stations need to be proactive and take advantage of this.

Stations should be relevant and aggressive on social media while communicating openings. While everyone else is perhaps ignoring recruiting, this is an opportunity to beat the competition to the punch and get as many great candidates into the funnel for openings as possible. When receiving a warm lead from a qualified candidate through either a job posting or social media presence, stations should communicate to them with empathy and keep them in the pipeline.

Even while a company may be under a hiring freeze or slowdown, it can still connect with people, get them interested, build the relationship and convert them to a great new hire down the road when things return to some sense of normalcy.