Since the COVID-19 pandemic became part of our lives, here at Spinnaker we have been constantly reviewing how we operate internally, but also trying to find new ways of working with our clients. We’re really pleased that recent hires have taken place outside of the traditional recruitment process which normally sees a face to face meeting as an absolute prerequisite.
New vacancies during lockdown
Obviously, COVID-19 has impacted recruitment but we are pleasantly surprised that forward-thinking businesses are continuing the hiring process. We’re taking on new vacancies, which is ideal as we’ve started 100% virtual hiring, that is, where neither the candidate nor client have met in person and where the entire recruitment process was handled completely over video calls.
We knew that it was possible for hiring to continue when we had two candidates start new roles in mid-March and early April from home. These were recruitment processes that we had started pre-lockdown for a marine insurer and shipmanagement company, and if we’re honest we were unsure if they would be starting as normal on their projected start dates. But sure enough, they have both started as new employees from home, with full training provided from their respective companies, again all over video call – and are doing well.
The virtual hiring timeline
But our first fully ‘virtual hire’ for Navigate PR has had an interesting trajectory. “We started initial discussions about the role – a Copywriter in London – in the middle part of February,” says David Tubb, the Spinnaker Recruitment Director who oversaw this hire. “We got the green light to recruit on 20 March – three days before lockdown.”
“I’d originally planned to meet candidates face to face, but because of lockdown this changed quickly to WhatsApp video calls.” The process progressed to virtual interviews with the client. Once it was narrowed down to a particular candidate, Alexander, a final virtual call was set to really lay out the position, and the business’ intentions. “Alexander got his personality over incredibly well virtually, and that really sold him to the client.”
Adjusting to virtual hires
We are sure that this trend will continue and become the norm as we continue to live through lockdown which is looking to be in place through the coming months. But does it take adjusting to? “The client did find it strange as they’d never done this before,” says Tubb. “I reassured him that even when meeting someone for interview face to face, you still don’t fully know the person you’re hiring. This put his mind at ease and he agreed it was a good process given the circumstances.”
We’re also aware that some candidates are hesitant about moving during these turbulent times. This was certainly the case here initially. “Alexander was concerned it would be a risk,” says Tubb. “But we discussed the security of the company, and how he was keen to make a move. Bill Lines from Navigate was open about the company and how he saw the role fitting into their remote set-up, and Alexander was honest and efficient. The communication between us all was seamless. I handled the offer, the contract went back and forth, and the references were collected.”
The candidate remarked of the process “It’s been a unique process changing roles in this current climate, but Spinnaker and Navigate have done a fantastic job making the move possible. Once both parties get used to it, having an interview over video call doesn’t feel any different. If anything, it’s more relaxed given that you are in your own surroundings.”
Alexander will start in early May, six weeks after the interview request. These kinds of hires will become how we operate at Spinnaker as lockdown continues to ensure everybody’s safety. Thanks to WhatsApp, Skype and Teams, we are fully able to continue recruiting as we would normally.
As David Tubb described the virtual hiring process: “There were three parties involved in this transaction. The candidate never met the client in person, the recruiter, me, never met the candidate in person, but both client and candidate are happy. Problem solved.”