In these uncertain times, it is not enough to simply have one strategy. You must be prepared with alternate strategies and plans in order to pivot from one to another. We’ve had to make a lot of changes in the past months, from our recruiting to interviewing to onboarding. In HR, many of us depended heavily on in-person hiring events and interviews in order to meet our talent acquisition goals. A global health crisis forced us to quickly change those strategies to take them online, to virtual hiring events to video interviews.
In my own business, I work with HR leaders and attend conferences, speaking engagements, and panel discussions – all very much in person. When most states went into quarantine mode in March 2020, it was right before many of us were working on planned events for SXSW in Austin. I received the news that SXSW would be canceled literally as I was driving to tour my event space. With a bit of effort (and luck that I already had online channels for reaching HR leaders), we were able to pivot from an in person event to virtual retreats for personal development and HR training.
One part of my business is working with HR professionals to support certification and recertification for SHRM and HRCI. Both entities announced in April that all certification test centers would be closing and each would offer online proctoring. This was a huge pivot for me, as I had to quickly gather as much information as possible for members of my network about rescheduling testing, changing test dates, and what online proctoring entails.
What Exactly Does it Mean to Pivot in Recruiting and Hiring
Note that there is a big difference in scrambling to keep the lights on and pivoting. If you have multiple strategies, pivoting involves refocusing your efforts – not creating a brand-new strategy out of thin air. Pivoting is a lateral move that creates value for the customer and company to share. Companies have been doing this for the past six months on a global scale, and not just for talent acquisition.
Take the music streaming service Spotify, for example. In a lockdown economy, the platform has all the makings of success, as people now working from home or sheltering at home would spend more time listening to streaming music. However, the majority of Spotify users were on free plans that forced them to listen to advertisements. And during the pandemic, advertisers cut their budgets in a massive way.
Spotify’s pivot: It began to offer original content in the form of podcasts. The platform saw artists and users upload more than 150,000 podcasts in just one month, and it has signed exclusive podcast deals with celebrities. Its paid user membership outpaced the free model in less than three months. The company had a business plan for original content; it simply refocused its efforts on expanding the model in order to stand out from other streaming services and escape its dependency on the free with ads model.
Pivoting Your Talent Acquisition Strategy
There are four key areas to focus on when you want to be prepared to pivot your strategy.
1) Focus on your data. How do you know when it is time to pivot? Your data answers that question. You will want to stay on top of key recruiting metrics, campaign performance, source of hire, and where your current strategy is falling short. You know your KPIs, so your data trends will be the first indication that it’s time to refocus your efforts.
2) Streamline your processes. Being able to pivot means being nimble. In order to have an agile team, it’s imperative to take advantage of every opportunity to automate and streamline any process that is vulnerable to weakness if neglected. If your team must pivot and channel all efforts into a different plan for talent acquisition, it is important to audit all processes to find out what might suffer if not attended. Pivoting shouldn’t cause a negative impact on your employee engagement or candidate experience.
3) Plan for multiple outcomes. You may have rapidly changing needs for headcount or position types, a predictive model for what you expect to happen, and then you have the actual data. Just like A/B test campaigns for landing pages or email, it is important to use an “if this then that” planning strategy that allows you to quickly shift focus.
4) Build key funnels. If you and your team are prepared ahead of time with key talent funnels and processes to activate as needs change, being able to pivot from one to another is almost as simple as flipping a switch. This means mapping out possible funnels from segmentation to channel to user flow.
Finally, your pivot (or pivots) should be an extension of your company’s existing capabilities. Pivoting is not simply “switching gears,” it is fundamentally an evolution of your current model. If you think about your different strategies as branches on the tree, they should all be growth-based, feed into the same ideal company goal, and reinforce strategic intent. You’re not growing new trees; you’re branching off from the one you already have.