Recruiting Goes Remote


SHRM | August 28, 2020

The SHRM article, “Recruiting Goes Rem​​ote,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Anne Coyle on her experience of remotely recruiting leadership for universities during this time of COVID-19 and what she expects to see moving forward. The article is excerpted below.​

Recruiting has changed for both recruiters and candidates since COVID-19 made its unwelcome arrival. Both groups are adapting to video pla​tforms for interviewing, skipping the onsite company tour and going through the hiring process from home.​

Many managers are unexpectedly finding that hiring without face-to-face interviews is successful, and some recruiters who saw reduced de​mand at the pandemic's outset are now surprisingly and happily noting an upswing in requests for services.

An​ne Coyle is an executive recruiter with almost 20 years of experience. She has been with Russell Reynolds Associates for the past two years, recruiting ​senior-level positions such as presidents and deans for colleges and universities. 

"R​​ecruiting in our new COVID-19 reality has changed the experience significantly," she said. "Traditionally, our interactions with search committe​es were almost always in person. Despite the limits on travel and face-to-face meetings, recruiting is a top priority for our clients. Demand for leadership services is rapidly resuming, something we would not have ever predicted in the early months of COVID-19."​​​​

In March, recruiting and hiring were deprioritized as university presidents dealt with positive COVID-19 tests, bringing students online, summer programs, faculty training and workforce safety. Now both candidates and employers are re-engaging. "The demand is highly unpredictable," Coyl​e said.

She recently finished several searches in which the candidate never met the hiring manager in person. "A university president told me he wouldn't hire someone he​ hadn't met in person, looked directly in the eye or sealed the deal with [by] a handshake," she said. "But he did. What's important is developing trust between candidate and employer. Candidates are requesting more conversation and confidential information that requires signing nondisclosure agreements."

About technology, Coy​​le said, "Zoom has saved the day. In the past, if a search committee held a remote interview, it was a large number of people around a table with a candidate who could barely see faces. Zoom feels up close and personal. I'm not sure we will ever go back to in-person first-round interviews."

She added that people looking for new opportunities seem as interested as ever, and college presidents are depending on proactive recruiting efforts to ensure a ​​strong candidate pool.

"This is a good time to be more reflective and deepen relationships with candidates," Coyle said. "Use the time gained by not traveling to foster your ​​long-term relationships."

To read the full article, click here.