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Recruiting During A Pandemic

Recruiting During a Pandemic

Gayle Alpert
Talent Acquisition Manager

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Loureiro has become increasingly sensitive to the safety, comfort and work/life responsibilities of not only our employees, but also potential hires interested in joining our team.

Candidates across the AEC industry have been impacted in a variety of ways including lay-offs, reductions in hours, furloughs and even temporary salary cuts. But despite the economic uncertainty, Loureiro continues to implement our strategic growth plans by searching for the best talent in the industry.

Since April 2020, Loureiro has been on a hiring surge and maintained its annual summer internship program without interruption. Talent Acquisition Manager Gayle Alpert shares her thoughts on the unique circumstances associated with recruiting during a pandemic, and how she and her hiring managers have successfully navigated these challenges over the course of the past several quarters.

Communicating with Candidates

The biggest changes in Loureiro’s recruitment and hiring processes revolve around how, when and where we communicate with candidates. The days of fostering in-person relationships are temporarily on hold, with networking events, career fairs and industry functions suspended or resorting to online formats for the time being.

LinkedIn remains an excellent platform not only for identifying candidates but also for making introductory contact. We have noticed that the availability for phone conversations during the day has opened up considerably with many people working from home. There is also been a definite preference for text messaging – particularly for follow-up conversations – as it allows people to respond while they’re not in front of their computers. This has proven to be especially helpful for those balancing professional responsibilities with remote learning requirements for their children.

The New Virtual Interview Format

When it comes to interviews, we have found there to be an even split between in-person and virtual introductions and meetings conducted by our team and we adjust between the two depending upon the applicable state’s travel advisories and the candidate’s own comfort level.

Zoom allows us to be incredibly flexible in scheduling appointments – with the ability to easily accommodate early mornings, late evenings and essentially any time slot in between. A single conference line and passcode is shared among all parties calling into the meeting to minimize inconvenience for the candidate.

We have found that virtual interviews also present a unique opportunity to get to know a candidate on a personal level when the conversation occurs in the comforts of his or her own home.  “Whether intentionally or subconsciously,” states Alpert, “you can’t help but take in someone’s surroundings which can shape your initial impression of that candidate.”

HELPFUL HINTS

A virtual interview is still an interview – treat it professionally, as if you were coming into the office. We share the following helpful hints and reminders from some of our most successful sessions:

  • Dress professionally (at least from the waist-up!)
  • Conduct a virtual interview in a quiet, well-lit, uninterrupted space free of distractions (such as children or pets)
  • Research the company, to include leadership, past clients and active projects as this facilitates a dialogue and promotes natural conversation
  • Ask questions about the company and position – you may find out something that will inspire you to bring up a unique qualification or attribute that you wouldn’t otherwise have mentioned

Last year, Loureiro welcomed a new team member whose hiring process was executed entirely online.

“I was already used to working with people in other parts of the country, so I was comfortable with the remote interview process through phone calls and video meetings. In my mind, the benefit of interviewing face to face is seeing how people react to what you are saying and vice versa, and that’s still captured with a video meeting. As long as you treat the camera as if you were sitting across a table from that person, it works.”

-Kate Engler, Director, Environmental Assessment, Hired June 2020

The ‘Tried and True’ In-Person Interview Format

Alternatively, many candidates still opt for in-person interviews at our offices. Loureiro’s goal is to make this experience as comfortable and safe as possible for every participant, adhering to all current, applicable safety guidelines, travel advisories and restrictions.

Interviews are conducted in a designated conference room between the candidate and one interviewer at a time. Each interviewer is responsible for cleaning the area before the next interviewer enters the room to minimize the level of exposure and contact during the process.

Loureiro has offices in the following states and has been conducting in person interviews at the preference of the candidate and in accordance with CDC’s domestic travel guidelines:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island

 The Challenges Associated with Finding Good People

Many talented candidates are loyal to their current employer – if anything, they are afraid to make a move in an uncertain economy and oftentimes compelled to work harder because they are operating remotely. On the flip side, we are finding candidates that are employed, yet proactively looking for new positions due to fears of projects being put on hold and subsequent layoffs.

As a result of the pandemic, we have witnessed larger companies restructuring, furloughing and eliminating positions. We have also seen smaller firms with specific market concentrations and limited service offerings struggle to stay afloat. Fortunately, due to our market, service and geographic diversification, Loureiro has been able retain its full team during the pandemic – even expanding in certain divisions and regions.

As the expression goes, we are all in this together. Many companies and connections are actively sharing positions and resources on LinkedIn, and we’re taking the opportunity to do the same.

Get in Touch

Are you looking to make a career change in 2021? Loureiro is always looking for talented people to join our expanding team. We are experiencing an uptick in work, particularly in the areas of heavy/civil construction and infrastructure design.

Connect with Gayle at resume@loureiro.com

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