What are the challenges of recruiting in the current environment and how are companies overcoming them?

At times like this, particularly for specialist roles, taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach to recruitment is almost guaranteed to cause problems. Typically you need to step back and adopt a tailored approach for the role you are focusing on (whether hiring or looking for a new position).  Working with people who really know the market and what is happening at any given time can help you design a strategy that will help overcome these problems.

Here at Edbury Daley we are happy to discuss some of the options available to you that will help improve your chances of success.  These are based on what we’ve been doing with our customers and candidates dating back to the start of the pandemic.  Here are some of the subjects we’ve seen the in market in the past six months:


One of the key challenges is that it is harder to actually assess and interview candidates remotely. Many organisations are now recruiting online but many have made the mistake of simply duplicating their old process, not appreciating that video interviewing is actually a whole different ball game. 

Is your company using a video interviewing tool that is fit for purpose and aids the process? You need to be careful that your candidate may not be familiar with your video conferencing platform which may cause problems, both technical and how they perform in an unfamiliar environment.

How do you fully assess someone when you aren’t actually meeting them – are you missing those subtle non-verbal cues? Many of the usual normal non-verbal clues can be completely missed on video. Furthermore, how can you fully assess candidates and ensure they are not just desperate for a job or one of the poor performers your competitors happily cast off?

Like most things in life, experience counts but in this area people need to learn quickly to avoid expensive mistakes.  We’ve learnt a lot from observing clients get it right and occasionally wrong in recent months and are now using this knowledge to improve success rates.

Candidate attraction

In this market you must ensure whoever is doing your recruiting (internally or third party) is a fantastic ambassador for your company and can effectively convey your job proposition to a prospective candidate, thus maximising the chances of them getting interested and wanting to take it further at a time when they may feel staying in their current role is a safer option.

Ensure the list of candidate targets is long enough to give you a strong chance of finding those who are willing to take the risk of a job move. Yes, for some roles it’s partially a numbers game and a real test of thoroughness, but if you know the best candidates in the market for any skill set you gain a major advantage which is why specialist knowledge is critical.  It’s worth noting that talent pooling or mapping can be very effective if done correctly to support a long term hiring plan.

Finally, start pipelining candidates before you are ready to hire. In other words, reach out to candidates who look like they could be a fit for your organisation and start a dialogue. Be transparent about when you are hoping to hire and view this as investing in a relationship via regular, meaningful contact.

Candidate Experience

Managing your candidate experience might not seem like a top priority at a time when many companies are cutting heads or freezing hiring. But in a market when this aspect of recruitment typically deteriorates, then how you treat candidates really impacts your talent brand now and in the long run and may make it harder to attract candidates when you’re ready to start hiring again. 

Nearly 46% of hiring professionals said the outbreak has negatively affected the candidate experience at their company, according to our recent survey. 

Whether you’re putting things on ice, crafting a totally remote candidate experience, or continuing business as usual, it’s critical to keep candidates updated in such a rapidly changing situation.

You need to proactively reach out and let them know what to expect or risk bad PR.

Again if you are stretched internally right now how can you do this?

What opportunities exist that smart companies can embrace?

Remote Talent

One option to give some thought to is where do your people need to be located now?

The shift to more homeworking is likely to become permanent for at least a few days a week for many then roles that were recruited locally now can be recruited regionally, nationally or even internationally? Many people unhappy to commute 3-4 days a week into London for example may be perfectly happy with travelling in for a couple?

Organisations who can  take advantage of this and are open to longer distance remote working may find it could help them build the team they have always wanted; with the right talent for the right job.

However this is difficult to do if your HR and talent people are too busy or have limited market knowledge or don’t know who the good people are regionally or interims who would consider a perm role but are not prepared to relocate.

Talent Pool

Many organisations have talked about this over the last few years but very few in our experience have really made it work. Many organisations really only have list of targets or the availability of skill sets in certain locations, not real talent pools of identified potential hires who are engaged for future opportunities and know what you could offer them.

HR typically don’t have the time to do this right now (some would argue this was the norm previously)  but now is the time to really focus on this so you can get in the best people to either protect or grow your business.

What are your key roles and what are the risks of key people leaving right now. How would you replace them and what do you need? 

If you don’t have this in house you need to consider how you can act and quickly and we can advise on the best way to do this particularly if you are likely to hire in a few months time not immediately.

Get a head start on these challenges and use a specialist to help

A true specialist recruiter will know the market both in the UK and internationally and will have a pre-existing reputation and brand that will give them credibility with people who might not typically respond to adverts or head hunting approaches from people they don’t know.

Many of the top performers and good candidates in that market will be connections and often will have spoken to them before. They will be well networked and know who to talk to and critically who the good performers are. Key candidates will take the call and will listen and typically trust their advice more.

A true specialist knows the market and who the best people in it are, and they will be known to them either personally or by reputation. It may seem obvious but this awareness makes a big difference to people as against a ‘cold approach’ and the percentage who will respond positively to the approach significantly increases.

Ultimately a tailored and well thought through approach by a recruiter who knows the market and has a positive market reputation is more important than ever right now if your business really needs the best top performing people. 

If your role is business critical, can you really afford not to get a headstart in terms of candidate attraction talent pooling and assessment?  When you look at the situation that way, it becomes clearer that not paying for the right professional advice is a false economy.

Of course this article has covered a wide range of issues affecting the market today.  If any of these resonate with you we may be able to help so if you are hiring in our specialist areas of procurement technology, spend management, finance and payments tech’, analytics, procurement or supply chain then please do get in touch.

We are also happy to help if you need general guidance on how to recruit outside our specialist areas.

Peter Brophy

Associate Director


Peter Brophy is a CIPD qualified HR professional with significant experience of leading in-house Talent Attraction teams particularly in the Consulting sector before he joined Edbury Daley.