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Onboarding during the pandemic - are you getting it right?

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Lizzie Tasker Blog, Employers, Tips...

The pandemic has presented many unique challenges to employers over the past year. While some have unfortunately seen their headcounts decrease, in those industries which have seen a boom in demand, recruitment has become a top priority. For the latter, the previous norm of face to face interviews and paperwork-heavy processes have had to go out of the window. But while these essential changes had to be implemented practically overnight, we're now several months into these new ways of working and it could be time to review your onboarding processes to ensure the candidate experience is at the forefront. 

Recruitment is fast-moving; agility and innovation are vitally important to attract top talent and never more so than in a difficult market. Getting the right applications is just the first step, it’s then absolutely crucial to keep candidates engaged during onboarding.


Our number one piece of advice is to think about your whole onboarding experience from the position of the candidate.  From job advert and application process through to selection, job offer and start, at every stage put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Don’t make any assumptions, a candidate may not know anything about your organisation and you want every ‘touch point’ to make the right impression.


A prompt and lean process is usually best i.e. make it as quick as possible, with as few stages as possible. There’s a balance to be struck between being meaningful, relevant to the seniority of the position and bureaucratic overkill.

Most of us have been honing our video meeting skills for a while now, but don’t forget that others may not be in the same position - you’re judging them on their suitability for the role, not (solely) on their ability to screen share on Teams or Zoom. Ensure that any joining instructions are clear and you keep to a structured format and length.

Legal checks, documents and admin are a necessary part of onboarding. But don't forget this is a touchpoint too. Candidates want to feel confident in a future employer, so keep them efficient and accurate, free from errors and delays. The easier you can make this process for the candidate, the better. 

Whilst the impact of COVID may have bought companies some leeway in the early days, it's an excuse that simply doesn't stand up anymore. In a competitive employment market, if you're not getting it right, someone else will. 


How, when and what you communicate during a recruitment process is always important. But with everything moving online, it’s important to provide channels and opportunities for two-way communication. Does your candidate know how to get in touch and who to speak to should they have a question? Candidates are likely to experience higher levels of uncertainty at the moment and perhaps need additional reassurance, given that they might be accepting a job offer - a huge life decision - without having met their colleagues/manager face to face or seen their work environment.

Think beyond the essential information (such as working hours and job role) too, how are you communicating your companies culture and the subtleties of how teams work together? 

Once a job offer has been accepted, don't sit back. Keeping your candidate engaged and in the loop right up until their start date is critically important to avoid any last-minute cold feet. 


From the outset, ensure a candidate knows how the process is going to play out and what a potential start would look like. Will they be remote working? What timeframes is your organisation working towards in terms of a return to the office? What infrastructure is provided? What will induction look like? How are you collaborating remotely?

An informed candidate is more likely to feel secure throughout the process, if you allow any doubts to creep in at this early stage before you've had the chance to earn any loyalty, you will run the risk of losing them to another employer.


Starting a new job can be daunting at the best of times. But for those who have secured a new role in the midst of the pandemic and are having to temporarily work remotely, their experience is going to continue to be different until we can return to the office and this shouldn't be forgotten. Normal concerns that crop up when starting a new role are not as easily picked up or allayed.  

This needs to be kept in mind and communication lines continually kept open. What provisions are in place to encourage existing staff to link up with new staff members? What are you doing to collect meaningful and constructive feedback? Don't forget - candidates who have been recruited during the pandemic are your best resource, use them!