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Navigating Recruiting Practices in a K-Shaped Recovery

On February 18, ATAP board member Melissa Thompson gathered a small group of Talent Acquisition leaders on a video call to discuss the challenges of the K-shaped recovery. For background, a K-shaped recovery is where certain parts of the economy recover quickly (the top side of the K) while others lag behind (bottom side of the K). Participants on the call included Mary Brogan, Ryan Cook, Nicole Norris, Margaret Maupin, John Ricciardi, Kim Thomas, and Maury Hanigan. [Special shout out to Maury, CEO of SparcStart, for helping to lead the session.]


The lively conversation kicked off with a discussion of the industries that have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic. Hospitality and transportation industries, along with call center and field-oriented roles, have been more negatively impacted. Our first big discussion point was how to remove the “unemployed” stigma when candidates are presented to hiring managers. Could we shift to blind resumes? Could we influence hiring managers to hire impacted candidates who are out of work not due to performance or any fault of their own? Could we get our organizations to more heavily weigh potential over experience? []


Our second topic focused on looking outside the norm to identify talent. One large call center organization changed its hiring criteria and processes to increase top-of-the-funnel candidates. The surprising result was that they ended up hiring a large number of restaurant workers and bartenders because of those candidate’s customer service mentality. The group then talked about how each of our organizations might replicate this success by having an intentional video assessment tool at the top of the funnel.


Next, we turned our attention to the current debate on the minimum wage increase. While at face value, increasing the minimum wage might have a positive impact, unintended consequences could result. Companies may begin to exclude markets where there is a higher minimum wage, as that increase impacts the overall costs basis. In current lower paying positions, will the recovery be at risk if the minimum wage increase drives up turnover?


At this point, we considered where we might find those impacted by this K-shaped recovery and developed a few ideas:

  • Market Intelligence X-Ray Sourcing: Search for companies with similar job profiles who are downsizing and then target impacted employees.
  • Layoff Lists: Use existing sites and groups to identify impacted talent. Don’t forget to connect with outplacement vendors that maintain databases of talent looking for their next job.
  • Early Career: Connect with colleges and universities to provide project work or internships for credit.
  • Advertising: One person suggested wrapping light rail or other public transportation with advertising. Another recommended going analog and posting jobs at churches and community centers. We were reminded that this talent pool may still look at newspaper ads. Lastly, we discussed the power of social media engagement—using employee ambassadors to do social shares of openings.

Our final topic was how to level the playing field for candidates who may have never participated in a virtual interview. One suggestion was to develop a microsite that clearly lays out what to expect in the interview process—not a high-level overview but rather, specifics on the steps in the process and details on how to allow candidates to shine (e.g., accessing the video interview platform, questions to expect). Finally, the group discussed the candidate’s experience when he or she is rejected during the interview process. This rejection is often impersonal, so one organization has developed a microsite just for candidates who were not selected to move forward. The site offers ways to improve interview skills and includes links to other active job openings.


We don’t have all the answers but wanted to take this time to start the conversation. What ideas do you have to help potentially long-term unemployed candidates find their next opportunity? We look forward to your thoughts.


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