Talent Acquisition in a Time of Uncertainty

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If you are an HR or Talent leader, and have any questions on how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on talent acquisition and management, reach out to us via emailone of our experts will be in touch. 




Early careers and campus recruitment is top-of-mind in the spring—employers are winding down their hiring activities and getting ready for internship season. However, employers are having to pivot very quickly and make big decisions on their early careers’ cohort considering the new circumstances we’re currently in.

In a recent survey by ISE, it was quoted that a third of employers are rescinding offers, and one third of employers are undecided what to do.

From our own observations it feels that, at present, there are more organisations in the ‘undecided’ camp than those that are halting all activities. Not that our environment today can be compared to the 2008 financial crisis wholly, but it is fair to say that was the last time that volatility shook the graduate recruitment landscape. During that period, organisations were in a similar quandary over what to do with graduate pipelines.

Looking back, it has been well documented that those organisations that reduced offers during that time not only suffered damage to their brand for a number of years, but also had a gap in their workforce once the economy picked up the following year, which they couldn’t fill quickly enough.

Organisations have already invested time and money in identifying their potential future leaders—so, our advice? Keep the lights on!

…it has been well documented that those organisations that pulled offers during the financial crisis in 2008/9 not only suffered damage to their brand for a number of years but also had a gap in their workforce once the economy picked up the following year which they couldn’t fill quickly enough.




Keeping the lights on will save you so much time and cost in the long run and it really is the right thing for this generation. But just how to keep the lights on in this situation prompts many questions. Here the three most common questions we’re hearing frequently right now, and some key things to consider for each one:

How do I implement virtual assessment centres?

  • Minimize lags. Server usage will start to spike with increased use of technologies and video interviewing alone may cause memory spikes which can lead to lags. As you build your assessments, consider options to mitigate these lags to not only help the candidate experience but give greater flexibility to the assessor too.
  • Consider software and hardware. The candidate experience is not just dictated by the software you select—hardware is equally as important. Consider and determine a minimum hardware requirement/expectation and test the software on this configuration before implementation.
  • Setup for Success. Consideration towards the candidate and the assessor experience is paramount to an overall successful experience. Make sure that the candidate is armed with useful hints and tips in what makes a successful virtual assessment experience. Also, make sure that assessors are fully briefed and familiar with the materials and point out any customisations that have been made.


I want to create a virtual internship experience—where do I start?

  • Explore new formats. Don’t try and replicate the typical 8-10 week internship ‘interview’ —it’s not possible in this environment. So instead, pivot! Consider breaking the internship into two halves—one being a virtual experience held over the summer and then invite interns to spend time with your organisation in person when safe and convenient to do so. There are several ways to facilitate an internship virtually, through applying creative thinking to the tools available. For example, a virtual, custom-built, curriculum may utilize training and development modules that include written project assignments with regular line manager interventions, group projects that align to team and company contexts, and proactive connection with mentors, peers, line managers and HR representatives.
  • Acknowledge participant diversity. Global and country nuances need to be considered. It will be impossible to give all interns globally the same experience and some local country internships are bound by strict university and school guidelines. Being more agile in your approach to some of the virtual activities that are possible will help with connectivity for the global cohort overall. Also consider how to make the internships available and prevent losing potential participants who may have technology limitations by either providing or catering to a number of different technology options and activities.
  • Start as you mean to go on. Choose a technology platform that has the necessary functionality to make this a truly connected, collaborative and worthwhile experience. Start backwards and think about the outcomes that you want to achieve first and build the programme of activities from there. This will also help you to decide the type of technology platform you will need to consider, as some of the activities may involve a real-time webinar masterclass, and some activities can be created for participants to complete in their own time.
  • Don’t wait. Consider transitioning some of the global graduate programme induction and training to virtual platforms now. This will give you time, not only for creating a new development value proposition, but for ensuring successful implementations by piloting some of the functionality before go-live.


How do I support the health and wellness of apprentices, graduates and interns during this time?

  • Stay Connected. Engage and communicate with your audience as frequently as possible. Even if you don’t know the answer to every single question, being open and honest will be appreciated in this environment and will reap benefits. More information on this can be found in the previous Keeping Your Talent Engaged post.
  • Learn from Others. our upcoming podcast with Mike Thompson, Managing Director of Gen.HealthyMinds for more hints and tips.
  • On-going support.  Include a health and wellness webinar as part of your keep warm campaign or virtual internship. This will be a great way for your audience to connect with you and each other in a supportive environment.

Ultimately, we’re all finding ourselves working in an environment we’ve never had to work in before. Be prepared to learn fast and know that there will be some failures along the way. You will discover formulas, frameworks and functionality that will become very quickly part of your new normal and unique selling proposition. Let’s not strive for perfection, that’s too difficult. Just keep engaged with the potential talent pipeline you’ve identified, embrace the opportunities that will present themselves to you, and stay true to the values of your organisation.


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