Has recruiting become a 24/7 role?

Has recruiting become a 24/7 role?

Fluid working has been a staple part of some industries for a while, if they operate 24/7. Until the pandemic hit, it was quite normal for larger supermarkets and manufacturers, for example, to offer a mix of early morning, daytime, twilight and nights shift to cover a ‘we’re always on/open’ operation.

Supermarkets, at least, were forced to curtail their opening hours when Covid-19 came along, towards a shorter, more ‘9-5-like’ day. At the same time, roles in other industries turned to fluid working and an extended working week.

Office workers were unable to operate from their employers’ premises and ordered to work from home, many with the flexibility to choose their own hours. If they wanted time off in the week for a personal commitment/downtime, they could (where deadlines weren’t an issue) choose to work in the evening to catch up, or to put in a few hours at the weekend.

9-5 isn’t the routine many of us work to in 2021. Some people have even campaigned for Sunday trading hours to be lengthened, arguing that it is just another day for so many of us in the UK.

The recruitment industry seems to be following suit. Many agencies carry out video interviews on evenings and weekends, knowing how much more convenient this is for the candidate. Years ago, getting time off for an interview during traditional working hours—without giving your boss an inkling that you’re thinking of leaving—was an art. An uncomfortable art, but one that people were forced to undertake.

That recruitment agencies are being more flexible in this regard is a huge plus. After all, most of the roles today’s candidates will be applying for are ones that, due to technology, can probably be carried out anywhere at any time. Take the team at Fast Recruitment Websites, for example. We offer recruitment web design, and we could work at 3am on a Sunday morning if we so wished—it wouldn’t have any influence on the end result we produce and our clients wouldn’t even be aware we’d done so.

Flexible interviewing via video is a positive for other reasons. It reduces the need for formal childcare and there’s no commuting involved—the latter being particularly important in remote working roles where the company’s head office could be at the other end of the country to the candidate. The time and money saved by sitting a virtual interview could certainly be significant in this case.

The benefit to the hiring company, of course, is that you are more likely to capture the best talent if you are as flexible as can be during the hiring stage. It’s also much easier to determine someone’s personality and aspirations if they’re relaxed and comfortable, as opposed to stressed and out of breath (because best-laid plans do sometimes go wrong with physical interviews!). Those in high flying positions may be working away from home or to extreme deadlines; recruiters are more likely to catch them in their downtime if they took a time-flexible approach.

James McGill, of HireVue, cites weekends as a busy time for the company’s recruiters. He says, ‘Data from HireVue's on-demand interviewing platform highlights Sundays as one of the most popular days of the week for candidates to interview for a new job. Towards the end of 2020, HireVue facilitated close to 50,000 virtual interviews over a single weekend, more than doubling the previous highest weekend in 2019. Similarly, we also set a record for the number of interviews in one day by a single customer, with 11,600 interviews completed on a single Sunday.’

One of the hesitations we saw on this subject, perhaps unsurprisingly, came from a recruiter, who was worried their employer may insist on evening/weekend interviews being in addition to their already busy weekday workload. If this was the case, their objection would be justified. As with most roles, if weekend working is an element, there should be equivalent time off during the week or a similar arrangement in place.

Some employees enjoy having a weekday ‘day off’, though this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone. Being able to visit attractions and run errands when everywhere isn’t as busy as it would be on a weekend is a huge plus, as is arranging appointments with institutions that are still ingrained in a 9-5 routine, e.g. healthcare (though weekend appointments were already being rolled out before Covid. The pandemic has also created a huge shift in when and how the NHS operates).

The other option is to look at a working week as fluid and operating a version of flexitime. If a recruiter arranges a weekend interview, for example, they can add this to their tally of hours to be taken in lieu at a future time that suits them.

To reiterate, fluid working is much more widespread than it used to be. The way people work is more fragmented and spread across a greater period of time, which includes evenings and weekends. Over a 7-day week, the same hours are worked, but in shorter, more frequent blocks, rather than an 8-hour slog each weekday.

Technology exists to allow the recruitment industry to work as flexibly as the next sector. If most candidates today are not tied to the 9-5, it makes business sense to match their working (and downtime) patterns.

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