What is Hybrid Recruiting?

Dec 29, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

Definition of Hybrid Recruiting

Hybrid recruiting (n): the combination of virtual recruiting and in-person recruiting tactics as part of an overall talent acquisition strategy that yields better results than each approach on its own
Synonyms: blended recruiting, omnichannel recruiting

Hybrid recruiting is not just a growing trend. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, employers shifted to virtual recruiting out of necessity and discovered the value of its many benefits right away. Now, as talent acquisition leaders begin to envision their recruiting plans for the post-pandemic era, an overwhelming majority (96%) say they will continue using virtual strategies as part of their recruiting process, alongside in-person recruiting events and tactics, according to a recent Brazen survey.

Hybrid recruiting may have gained attention in 2020 but the approach isn’t new. Many organizations have been using hybrid recruiting strategies for years and reaping the benefits. Using virtual recruiting as part of a larger talent acquisition plan helps organizations reduce hiring costs, speed up time to hire, enhance the candidate experience, and improve diversity hiring. And those are just a few examples of the myriad benefits virtual recruiting offers, when paired with in-person strategies.

The pandemic forced people to become more comfortable with hybrid virtual/in-person approaches in other areas of life, such as work, school, and even healthcare. This is primarily because a hybrid approach allows us to remain flexible, reduce risk, and continue moving forward toward our goals. In the workplace, many large national organizations are setting an expectation for hybrid workforce, where some team members report to a physical shared office while other roles are entirely remote. This trend is growing fast among top employers and will force other organizations to remain flexible and open to adopting similar team structures to compete for top talent.

“More and more, remote employees will make up a bigger majority of the workforce,” said Anessa Fike, CEO of Fike + Co. “And companies will need to adjust. Less money will be spent on fancy offices, and more money will be focused on employees' paychecks and supporting working families.”

What is hybrid recruiting?

During the pandemic, most employers shut down all in-person recruiting in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. As the vaccine is distributed and we look forward to the end of the health crisis, many talent acquisition leaders are eager to bring back in-person career fairs and interviews, to re-establish those tried and true strategies for building relationships with top talent and finding the best fit for their organizations. However, virtual recruiting strategies will continue to be an essential component of their broader talent acquisition strategies. This hybrid recruiting approach allows employers to be more strategic about the types of recruiting tactics they use, and offers more control over recruiting costs and investments in time and manpower.

Virtual recruiting tools, such as recruiting chatbots, virtual career fairs, virtual hiring events, text recruiting, virtual chats/video interviewing, help employers attract talent across geographic barriers and are effective for targeting niche skill sets and demographics. These strategies work well throughout the recruiting process, and help employers speed up the time to hire by allowing recruiters to screen more candidates in less time than phone screening.

While it’s possible to hire candidates exclusively through virtual recruiting strategies, many employers are looking forward to returning to in-person tactics where it makes the most sense. For many, this will mean in-person interviews for the final round for key roles, smaller hiring events for candidates that recruiters prequalified through virtual means, and other small local in-person hiring events, like campus career fairs or niche-focused job fairs.

Hybrid recruiting offers employers the invaluable advantage of choosing which recruiting tools and strategies will best serve their objectives, while spending their budgets wisely and supporting the recruiting team’s work/life balance with less travel and more tools that help them do their jobs effectively.

What are the benefits of hybrid recruiting?

Hybrid recruiting allows employers to take advantage of the best of both worlds, by maximizing the benefits of virtual and in-person recruiting while controlling unwanted variables. A hybrid recruiting approach offers all the benefits of virtual recruiting — a better candidate experience, reduced costs, improved speed to hire, location independence, and convenience (for candidates and recruiters alike). In-person recruiting, used strategically alongside virtual recruiting strategies, offers a way for employers to add value to the candidate experience, with in-person interviews, worksite tours, and in-person hiring events for select groups of candidates. Adopting a hybrid recruiting approach helps you future-proof your ability to pivot, should you need to rely more heavily on virtual for any reason in the future, and the speed and convenience of virtual recruiting make it easy to respond to challenges quickly. Having virtual as part of your broader TA strategy helps you transcend circumstances. Nothing will slow you down.

How are employers using hybrid recruiting?

Hybrid recruiting enables employers to approach talent acquisition with more creativity and flexibility than ever. Over the course of the past few years, we’ve seen a number of examples of how hybrid recruiting can look. Employers can mix and match these approaches to create an overarching strategy that serves their organization’s needs, while remaining agile.

A blended hybrid recruiting approach consists of virtual and in-person recruiting at strategic places in the process. For instance, employers following this model might use virtual recruiting mostly at the top of the funnel, and shift to in-person recruiting for final interviews. Think of a campus recruiting team that is planning on visiting a handful of campuses in the fall. A blended recruiting approach is ideal for those teams that want to make the most of their in-person experience. The virtual component is what makes this possible. In this case, the campus recruiting team would connect with students virtually to pre-screen and qualify the student candidates and then only invite the top candidates to in person interviews.

A composite hybrid recruiting approach, in which employers host virtual career fairs as well as in-person recruiting events throughout the recruiting funnel, as a parallel partnership. Again, let's use the campus recruiting team as an example. In this model, the campus recruiting team may decide to split their recruiting into virtual and in person, depending on the school. For example, they may decide to continue in person visits for their tier 1 schools. However, they may choose to use virtual recruiting events for all their tier 2 and 3 schools to save on time and travel expenses. Adding a virtual component to their strategy may also allow the campus recruiting team to add schools to their target list that were previously prohibitive due to travel expenses.

A synchronous hybrid recruiting approach wherein employers combine in-person and virtual elements for the same events. Let’s continue with the campus recruiting team examples. In this instance, a campus recruiting team may visit a campus in person but give students the option to connect with them virtually. This model works best if the campus recruiting team envisions a presentation. Students could choose to attend the presentation in person or log in from wherever to see the presentation virtually. The benefit of a synchronous approach is that more students have access to your recruiting team.

It is also important to note that each of these models are not independent. Recruiting teams can mix and match the approaches depending on their needs and situation.

Will hybrid recruiting still make sense in a year? Five years?

It’s clear that virtual recruiting has become a large part of the new normal of talent acquisition. Virtual recruiting tools and virtual recruiting events are not going anywhere. The benefits have demonstrated how valuable virtual recruiting is for top employers, and when strategically combined with in-person recruiting, a hybrid recruiting approach helps employers compete for top talent and build teams that keep your organization competitive, no matter what your industry.

“I think remote is here to stay,” said Nate Guggia, co-founder of Before You Apply. “This will enable TA to access a broader talent pool and force some companies (yes, I'm looking at you tech startups) to give a look at smart people outside of their tech hub bubbles who would otherwise be overlooked purely based on school and location.” 

Because hybrid recruiting offers so many benefits, and helps your team work more effectively, this won’t be a passing trend. 

“The integration of virtual recruiting into the talent acquisition process is here to stay!” said Brian White, executive director of human resources & operations at Auburn-Washburn Unified School District 437. “Virtual career fairs, chats, text recruiting, and video interviewing have all added additional tools for talent acquisition to enhance candidate experience and hiring success. While these tools were around prior to the pandemic, their value and benefit were highlighted as many organizations and candidates shifted strictly to virtual recruiting. The ease of use, ability to communicate in a comfortable format, mobile friendliness, and overall effectiveness will carry forward in the long term.”

As the future of work incorporates more virtual tools to help remote teams collaborate and communicate, employers need to embrace virtual recruiting as part of their long-term talent acquisition strategies to demonstrate an understanding of our changing workplaces and deliver the kinds of candidate experiences that top talent demands.

Hybrid recruiting makes TA more sustainable

The bottom line is that hybrid recruiting improves your immediate results while helping to future-proof your organization. A hybrid recruiting approach allows organizations to stay agile and respond to changing circumstances quickly (i.e. future viral outbreaks, economic conditions, staffing issues).

With virtual recruiting as part of a broader talent acquisition strategy, employers can act quickly, host recruiting events with fewer staff members, and pivot in-person events to virtual platforms at (nearly) the last minute if the situation requires it. While we expect and look forward to the day employers can bring back in-person recruiting safely, talent acquisition experts know that hybrid recruiting is the most effective strategy for remaining competitive in the talent market for years to come.

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