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The Hiring Process and COVID-19: What Job Seekers Can Expect

An Interview with BelFlex’s Traci Johnson


The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has completely upended the labor market. For businesses and job seekers alike, navigating this time — and the unknowns still to come — has been challenging. Over the course of just weeks, we’ve seen a shift from severe talent shortages across nearly every industry to many mandatory shutdowns and layoffs, creating financial uncertainty for everyone involved.

Yet many “essential businesses,” or those that are able to continue operations despite varying stay-at-home orders from local state governments, are rapidly hiring to meet new demand. In doing so, they’re re-shaping the typical recruiting and onboarding processes to make them as safe and efficient as possible during this health crisis. This includes the increased use of technology, revised screening protocols and changes to onboarding. While the future is yet to be written, we do know that many of the changes happening today will set the precedent for hiring practices in our new normal, post-COVID-19 world.

We sat down with BelFlex’s Traci Johnson, an area manager covering the Louisville, Danville and Lebanon, KY, area, to talk about the changes job seekers can expect to see as they apply for new roles now and into the future.

How has the application process changed today?

 Previously, all three offices in our area regularly experienced walk-in traffic from job seekers looking to learn more about our positions, but now we are only seeing candidates by appointment only. Our recruiters do as much as possible electronically in order to protect both candidates and our own team. Overall, we’ve reduced time spent in person with candidates by around 75%.

What about onboarding? How is that process different?

Like the application process, we’re conducting as much of the onboarding process as possible over the phone or online. The biggest change actually comes after onboarding. Each of our clients have adjusted their practices to comply with new state and local workplace guidelines. This has created the need for additional orientation for new hires, to help them understand upfront new protocols at the client site, like temperature readings, social distancing parameters and requirements to ensure proper hygiene.

What types of questions or concerns do job seekers have?

A lot of candidates are trying to understand changes to different laws, such as the CARES Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). They’re very worried about what happens if they get sick — will they be protected and eligible for unemployment? They are also asking about how they report someone who is coming to work sick. What’s unique about BelFlex is that we’ve established an internal crisis team committed to providing answers to these questions and more. We’re offering extra support right now to both clients and candidates as we try to help each other navigate through this.

Are any clients hiring right now? Do you still have jobs?

Yes! We are fairly busy in Louisville as it a huge logistics hub. We’re doing more clerical recruiting as well. And, not surprisingly, there’s been an uptick in hiring in the medical supply and food and packaging (corrugated cardboard) industries. So, there’s a variety of work available for those who need it. For candidates looking for work in other industries, we encourage any candidates, no matter what, to register with us for future opportunities. This way when things get back on track, we can quickly get people back to work.

All of our local branch managers are working to ensure all BelFlex candidates feel supported during these unpredictable times. As this health crisis unfolds, we expect hiring practices to continue evolving based on the needs and safety of businesses and workers. If you’re currently looking for work, please reach out to BelFlex if we can help you in any way.

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