The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has tested many of the ways that companies operate, not least the HR function. One of the main challenges has been how to recruit and onboard people without being able to physically meet or and enjoy face-to-face contact. After operating in this ‘new normal’ for more than nine months now, ITMAGINATION has found that conducting recruitment remotely and adjusting its operating model to be less focused on recruitment for specific locations creates new possibilities to appeal to and hire some of Poland’s finest tech talent. Anna Zadurska-Gołaszewska, Recruitment Manager at ITMAGINATION, shares her experiences and explains how digital can be used to build strong connections with candidates and new joiners, even in an increasingly ‘contactless’ world.
Prior to the pandemic, work from home was a controversial topic in many companies. Some embraced it and even encouraged it, appreciating the benefits of lower infrastructure costs, greater flexibility and as a way to appeal to top talent. Some forbid it. Many were somewhere in between – allowing it on a limited basis but not yet ready to let go of the idea of the office as being the main place of work. Since early 2020, the luxury of being able to decide how much ‘work from home’ is right for your business has been replaced with the question of:
Are our capabilities, policies and operating models ready to switch to a predominately work from home model?
In Poland, as in the rest of the world, the pandemic has forced many people to switch to ‘work from home’. This is highly evident in the country’s capital, Warsaw, where, in the second quarter of 2020, one in every five people in employment was making use of work from home (GUS). A survey conducted by a leading job-posting website in Poland, pracuj.pl, revealed that after the pandemic, 87% of survey participants would welcome at least some provision for working remotely, while just 16% want to work completely remotely. Although the prospect of vaccination rollout is on the horizon, a return to the ‘old normal’ should not be expected any time soon.
The onset of the pandemic forced all organizations to transform their recruitment practices. Now, with the prospect of yet another ‘new normal’ in sight, organizations must consider how their recruitment and onboarding activities will evolve in the near and mid term in order to stand out and fulfil their goals in a recruiting climate that is changing dynamically.
Demand for tech skills increases
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology and technology services. For most organizations, the need to progress against their strategic agendas – many of which rely on technology – remains strong. Furthermore, in many cases, technology and digital transformation will be key to adapting to the ‘new normal’.
Strong demand increases importance of strong recruitment
Given the role of tech in adapting to the new normal, the demand for tech skills continues to be strong, if not stronger than before the pandemic. Companies need skilled consultants, analysts, designers and engineers to continue existing projects and to accelerate the initiatives that will help them succeed in the pandemic-stricken and post-pandemic world.
For HR departments and recruitment functions, how do you continue to meet the needs of your organization (and, in the case of companies like ITMAGINATION, the needs of your clients) when much of the population is in ‘lockdown’ mode and unable or unwilling to meet in person? At ITMAGINATION, the team was able to adapt to the new reality in a matter of hours.
As an organization, ITMAGINATION was able to move fully to remote working within a day. Of course, we initially worried that our hiring and recruitment operations would be less effective in this mode, but it quickly became apparent that the tools and ways of working that we had implemented in recent years positioned us perfectly to seamlessly continue our operations. This should come as no surprise – as a technology company, we practice and preach digital transformation – and yet it is reassuring and satisfying to see that our operating model enable us to continue our operations almost as normal. This also boosts the confidence that our clients have in ITMAGINATION as a technology partner and assures them that they will be able to access the right skills and people to support their business ambitions.
Recruitment at ITMAGINATION
Today, 100% of our recruitment processes take place online. Interviews take place via videoconference and the verification of candidate qualifications can be done without the need for a face-to-face meeting. For candidates, video conferences are used to enable them to meet their future team leader and also connect with the team that they will be working with. Once a candidate has successfully passed through the recruitment process, equipment (e.g., laptop, monitors, mobile phone) are sent by courier to the new joiner. All of this can take place in a ‘contactless’ way and enables new joiners to get up to speed quickly, easily and safely.
At ITMAGINATION, we expect contactless recruitment to remain an important component of our hiring strategy in the coming months and years, which is a view seemingly shared by many companies. A survey of Talent professionals conducted by LinkedIn indicates that virtual recruiting is here to stay – 81% agree it will continue in the post-Covid world, while 70% believe it will be the new standard.
Changes in recruitment focus
But recruitment is about more than tools and processes. Given the lack of real face-to-face contact, both recruiters and candidates need to adjust their approaches to give themselves the best chance of success. Interacting via video conference is here to stay and, for ITMAGINATION teams serving global clients, it’s part of everyday work life (pre- or post-pandemic). As such, recruiters need to look at aspects such as:
- How successfully does the candidate communicate his or her ideas when in front of a camera?
- Does the candidate build a strong rapport with his or her conversation partner despite being miles away?
- How confident and proficient is the candidate using Microsoft Teams or Zoom?
- Has the candidate taken the time and care to create an environment that looks professional and has a good internet connection?
- What does the Teams background image, if used, say about the candidate and would you be happy for your clients or internal stakeholders to see this?
These are just some of the questions that recruiters need to have in mind and that candidates should seek to address as part of their preparation for interviews.
And it’s not just candidates that need to make a positive impression – employers, many of which are operating in highly competitive markets (such as for tech talent) need to convey their appeal virtually as well. How do you communicate your corporate culture, exhibit the strength of the company’s leadership and convey the benefits of working with you? The scarcity of face-to-face contact throughout the process levels the playing feel among employers. Money will always talk, but employers also need to get creative and work out how they can stand out in a world of Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls.
Less movement, more opportunity
Prior to the pandemic, companies (including ITMAGINATION) sought to fill positions in locations where they had offices. For teamwork and for overall management of operations, being in the same place made natural sense. For those companies that have been able to transition – fully or in large part – to remote working, position location and proximity to the office is no longer so important. And while it’s too early to say that ‘in office’ working is gone for good, it’s clear that many companies will no longer require employees to do all of their work from the office. For example, a software engineer can do his or job equally well (perhaps even better if not exposed to a daily commute and with the benefit of a little more personal time) regardless of whether they’re 15 stories up a modern, class-A office building in central Warsaw or 1,000 meters above sea level in a mountain holiday home or even in the empty basement at the in-laws.
For both recruiters and job-seeking candidates, this means much more opportunity for the right people to find the right roles, without being constrained by location, commute time, living costs, lifestyle choices and more. As revealed by LinkedIn, remote jobs result in over 20% more geographical diversity among applicants. With greater geographic diversity comes the opportunity for larger candidate pools, a broader range of perspectives, opportunities to optimize budgets for roles and opportunities for employers to spread their ‘reach’ without needing to open new offices. It’s a formula for happier candidates, happier recruiters, happier businesses and satisfied clients.
Experience matters – what companies are looking for
Recruitment in IT is highly competitive, and this remains the case during the pandemic. However, with company dynamics (e.g., more remote work) changing, budgets tightening but greater emphasis on digital transformation (to support operating and thriving in the new normal), the decisions about who to hire and which service provider to contract take on increased importance.
At ITMAGINATION, we’ve seen an uptick in demand for experienced professionals. Sure, the cost of such people’s time is higher, but companies recognize the value of having the right people for the job, and they also understand that the margin for error and appetite for risk within their organizations is lower than in ‘normal’ times. The success of a technology project or program can be the difference between simply surviving the current downturn or thriving in the new normal. Companies have to get it right, and this is reflected in their and our recruitment efforts.
Onboarding – making the connection while remaining socially distanced
Onboarding marks the point at which a person stops being a candidate and becomes a member of the team. The onboarding process is an often-undervalued part of the employee experience – it’s an important interaction that can have a lasting impact on the new joiner and how they feel about the company they work for.
In the absence of being able to physically ‘meet the team,’ new joiners need to be able to feel the connection with the new organization and its people. At ITMAGINATION, we run online onboarding sessions twice a month, during which new joiners get the chance to introduce themselves. Once they’ve joined a specific (e.g., project) team, they have daily meetings with their colleagues, normally in the form of video conferences. Such events aren’t a replacement for a coffee and catchup in the kitchen or canteen, but they help to foster and nurture bonds. Furthermore, the ITMAGINATION Board of Directors are active and consistent in communicating to the entire company on a regular basis. All of these ‘rituals’ help maintain the company’s culture and sense of team spirit, and they contribute to the company’s continued and growing success.
Empower your HR and recruitment functions to build deeper connections with digital
Technology tools and digital ways of working can help you attract top talent and create stronger, more-compelling employee experiences. If you think your HR and Recruitment functions could benefit from digital transformation, talk to ITMAGINATION.
Join a growing team and thrive in the ‘new normal’
Looking for an opportunity to nurture your tech talent and work on challenging projects with some of the world’s most-recognized brands? Check out the positions we’re currently recruiting for at ITMAGINATION.
Learn it. Know it. Done.
Author: Anna Zadurska-Gołaszewska