Top 5 Recruiting Challenges in 2020

Taking time to hire? Don’t worry! You’re not alone.

The year 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for employers, professionals, and job seekers due to the drastic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. There was a hard hit in the economy resulting in business closures, salary cuts, layoffs, freeze hiring, and great financial losses. The unemployment rate reached 5.2% globally – 0.02% higher than in 2019. In the United Arab Emirates, the unemployment rate has risen from 2.35% in 2019 to 2.45% in 2020. Though the number does not appear alarming, many professionals and employers have encountered several stumbling blocks more than the previous years due to the global pandemic. Are you one of them? 

Let us go over some of the drawbacks below and find out ways to deal with such. 


Ever wonder what happens in the background? Recruiters receive manpower requisitions and post job advertisements based on the information provided. Simple, right? Wrong! There is so much more than that. Recruiters, both internal and external, need to understand the business before looking for the right person to do the job. The right candidate may take time to find considering the job, personality, culture, and organisational fit – these things may have been easier to gauge if the recruiter actually knows much about and can showcase the work environment. 

Gone are the days when candidates solely look at compensation packages. Nowadays, candidates look at company core values and organisational culture to see how aligned those are with their principles and preferences. And as many job seekers have been laid off, they would like to know how employers handled the COVID-19 situation and get some reassurance in career stability. These things can be quite tough to relay and instilled into the hearts and minds of employees. What more for candidates? 

Recruiters will have to clearly set expectations from the get-go and make sure candidates know what they are signing up for. Recruiters can share employee testimonies and stories about their stay in the company. Let them know, “what’s in it for them?” Is the company hiring temporary or permanent employees? Will the candidate work onsite or from home? Transparency and communicationare important in letting candidates understand where the business stands, how the employees were treated during the lockdown, and what plans are in place to ensure job security and business continuity. 


Voice and video conferencing may feel different from seeing candidates, hiring managers, and the office in person. Hiring managers and candidates may take time not just in adjusting to new technology but also in warming up to recruiters and one another when making a hiring decision or accepting a job offer. Moreover, candidates may not be used to or comfortable taking online assessments or attending video interviews that may affect their level of interest in pursuing the role. Other than candidates and hiring managers, co-workers (or co-recruiters) may find some apps and systems difficult to navigate, especially those who are not used to such technology for work. It can be an added responsibility of the recruiter to ensure that co-workers are being productive and are doing their jobs well. 

Recruiters should be trained to do what they normally do but on a digital platform – interviews done over the phone or through video conferences, tests administered and checked online, and jobs offered online. The recruiter must exercise patience more than ever towards hiring managers and candidates experiencing difficulties adjusting to a digital process as not everyone can learn at the same pace. Recruiters must be familiar with using several apps to communicate with hiring managers and candidates to use their time wisely and even provide guidance in using online platforms as needed. Explaining the reasons behind requiring online assessments and interviews may help in letting them understand and appreciating the robust recruitment process that in turn makes them more agreeable in pursuing their application. 


The pandemic urged several companies to make crucial manpower decisions resulting in layoffs. As business gradually gets back to normal, companies notice the manpower they lost and, once again, would need. Vacancies have increased due to the growing demands of work, and those who have lost their jobs during the outbreak are eager to get back on their feet. Normally, recruiters handle 25-30 requisitions and screen 250 candidates regularly (and for some, hiring is seasonal). However, with the pandemic, the numbers have multiplied. Imagine the thousands of applications recruiters go through. Many candidates complain about not receiving any acknowledgment on their applications and not hearing back from recruiters. 

With the surge of applications, it is unfortunate that not all recruiters can respond to each candidate. This poses problems such as creating a negative impression on the company they represent and a not so positive candidate experience resulting in the withdrawal of applications and a delay in the hiring process. These problems are oftentimes shared through social media platforms, and one of which is LinkedInThis is also used by candidates to look for jobs, connect with professionals, and share job hunting tips and experiences – including users who vent out frustrations and bad experiences. And since people talk, they share stories with friends and families – positive and negative ones that paint a picture of how the company really is, and they tell their friends, and their friends tell their friends, and so on. There may be consequences if recruiters and employers do not make an effort in ensuring a positive candidate experience. 

Hiring additional assistance may be one of the solutions especially since several job seekers may be in the recruitment profession, too. If hiring externally may not be practical, upskilling internal employees to assist in recruitment can do the job and incorporating excellent customer service into recruitment practices. Aside from getting people on board to do a specific task, employers can also invest in automation systems that acknowledge and respond to candidate applications. Recruiters and employers should find ways to enhance candidate experience whether they get the job or not. Some candidates even recommend working for employers who did not hire them but treated them well during the recruitment process. Shows good branding for the company and relays the company culture! 


Due to the business closures and layoffs this year alone, the job market has been more difficult to penetrate for jobseekers. This is a year of quantity over quality for recruiters because whenever a new job has been posted, it will be swarmed by hundreds of applications in a matter of seconds. Sadly, not all recruiters always have the time in the world to go through every application, no matter how great the skills and experiences of candidates are. There really is just too much to go through with so little time. The good news is, there are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in place to make candidate screening much more efficient. The downside is that there may be good candidates in the pool that the ATS may miss out on because of complicated resume formatting or failing to include the necessary information despite having the experience to back it up. As this is not a fool-proof option, we can look at other ways to find the right candidate. 

Sourcing has always been a trusted step in recruitment. This allows recruiters to target passive but qualified candidates for the role. Check your database. You will never know which of your past candidates may be looking for a job. No database? No one in the pipeline? No worries! Using Boolean Search and knowing the right keywords, a list of candidates will be generated for you – and the more you add filters, the more it narrows things down for if the list still appears overwhelming. Just make sure to get to the candidate before other recruiters do because if these profiles are appearing in your search, assume that they are also shown to other recruiters hiring for the same role. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a good one! 

Lastly, recruiters shall take things internally. If possible, do a quick scan in your office and see if anyone would be a good fit for the role. Lateral movements or internal promotions are good either way to engage employees and employee morale. Another option is to ask for referrals. Employees would not recommend candidates who would not be a good fit for the role or the company. They would recommend peers or past colleagues they can vouch for. 


Finding the right fit can take time and may require recruiters to think outside of the box to fill roles. If candidates in the area do not meet the requirements, it may be time to check other regions and offer relocation options or a more flexible working arrangement. In some instances, hiring managers highly prefer candidates to be in the office to meet them and have them visit their future workplace. However, candidates may feel that it may be a bit risky, time-consuming, and even costly compared to doing an online interview. If this is the case, recruiters will have to communicate things clearly with the hiring manager to see if they can be flexible in both the interview process and work arrangement. If not, recruiters will have to manage the candidate’s expectations and offer alternatives for comfort and convenience if possible. 

As most recruitment processes have been done online, expect candidates to ask questions about work being done remotely and online onboarding. To consider candidate preferences and global safety measures, recruiters shall advise the hiring managers to understand the effectiveness of a remote work arrangement without sacrificing the quality of output and employee engagement. So long as the candidates and hiring managers are on the same page, the recruitment process will go on. 

Admittedly, it has been quite a year for many. Adjusting to the lockdown, dealing with layoffs and closures, paving the way for opportunities to bounce back, and so on. Though the pandemic is not something we can control, we can identify ways to tackle this situation. 

Try some (or all) of these things out and see if it works for you!