What candidates are looking for

What candidates are looking for post-COVID-19

Sarah Linney
22 Jun
Reading time: 6 minutes
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Many companies and industries pivoted in massive ways amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly adapting their day-to-day processes and operations to fit the new world of work. 

Two critical areas that saw significant changes were talent acquisition and hiring. Due to the ripple effects of COVID-19, prospective candidates value different things in an employer and work environment after living through the pandemic and experiencing a remote working style. Many companies now have partially or fully remote work environments with some declaring that they won’t return to the office at all. 

So, how can your company position itself to hire the best candidates in this post-pandemic climate? Your future employees and team members are keen to work for a company that offers security, flexibility, autonomy and transparency. 

Below are some important factors that candidates are looking for now. Develop these traits in your company to ensure that your employer value proposition is strong and you’re able to acquire the top talent for your organisation.


Security is a top priority for candidates now due to the unpredictability caused by the pandemic, though job security could mean different things to different candidates. This uncertainty instilled fear in professionals, making them reconsider if their job is safe. 

Therefore, it will be tougher for companies to win their trust. Organisations can take a step in the right direction by addressing this in the interview.

You can win a candidate over by offering a strong feeling of security. This reassurance can come in a variety of different forms. Employers can establish all-inclusive sick leave policies to protect employees against an illness for them or their families. Sickness is an unpredictable event, and a company that understands this will attract the best candidates.

Companies must also have a strong remote working system in place. Employees should be able to communicate effectively with other team members if a stay-at-home order is issued again. By empowering the use of technology and encouraging employees to become accustomed to working from home, companies can offer job security and peace of mind to employees and prospects, so they understand that your company is ready to deal with any future lockdowns. 

You can also convey stability in your organisation by being transparent with the candidate upfront. You can supply your talent acquisition or recruiting team with a comprehensive FAQ. This information allows them to have confident, accurate and smooth discussions with the candidates. When prospective employees read through this sheet, they should get a big picture of what your company is doing and how they do it.


The pandemic made working from home a common practice for professionals of all ages and fields. Because of the initial stay-at-home orders, companies had no other choice but to move to working from home to stay productive. Employees had to quickly learn how to perform at a high level when their home became their office.

Over time, professionals came to appreciate the benefits of remote work. A lot of these people won’t be rushing back to the office due to the many upsides of the work-from-home lifestyle, like putting a load of washing on or making a home-cooked meal at lunchtime. Some employees will be open to the idea of returning to their office for at least part of the time. Organisations need to provide flexibility around their employees’ work environment and schedule to meet the expectations and needs of current and prospective employees.

There are many ways to accommodate this new employee mindset. Organisations could create alternative working schedules with a healthy balance between home and office time. If your team allows 100% remote work, you can also put systems in place to increase video calls and communication. If you don’t have any flexible accommodations in place, your company could lose out on candidates.

Freedom and autonomy

In addition to flexible working styles and arrangements, professionals also have an excellent sense of autonomy during the pandemic. Team members were required to take bigger ownership over their projects, tasks and presentations.

As manager control was somewhat limited in the remote working style, employees became much more autonomous. An organisation’s good performers and producers will not need much oversight anyway, and in many cases, employees will appreciate the increased autonomy.

Companies should take extra steps to train their leaders on allowing more autonomy within the teams. Employees want to feel valued and trusted. They want the freedom to make process improvements, develop creative ideas and invest in themselves. When current employees interview prospective candidates, it’s essential that they know that the organisation fosters this kind of work environment.


The pandemic was a stressful time for many professionals. If you want to attract quality candidates, you must establish trust on day one. You cannot build trust without providing consistent transparency throughout the recruiting, hiring and onboarding process. All team members should demonstrate honesty and communicate reliably with the candidate.

As your team explains the role to the candidate, it would be best to avoid any misrepresentation or sugarcoating. Stay away from inaccurate statements, but also direct the conversation toward the relevant aspects of the job. If you need to be honest with the candidate about company struggles or downfalls, a private or one-on-one conversation might be the best route.


After the emotional effects of the pandemic, candidates will gravitate toward companies that show heart and act in an ethical manner. 

These types of businesses conduct operations ethically and build strong loyalty with their internal and external stakeholders. The pandemic certainly filtered out the excellent companies from the average ones, starkly highlighting different approaches and responses to the pandemic’s challenges.

Employees learn a lot about a company based on how it conducts itself during a crisis. As you speak with prospective candidates, cite specific examples of how your company looked after its employees and boosted employee morale during the pandemic.

Candidates will want to join a company where they feel a sense of shared purpose. If the organisation feels like a family, the hiring team should make this known during the discussion and provide examples of how this is fostered across the company.

Final wrap up

To gain the top talent you need for your company, prospective candidates must feel valued from the start. Prospective employees need trust, stability and flexibility in the wake of the pandemic, and many want to work for a company that is transparent and ethical.

High-performing employees are what drive a business to succeed. Don’t miss out on the best candidates by dismissing the importance of security, flexibility, transparency and ethics. Potential team members should tangibly feel these qualities in the interview, hiring process and every day after they start work.

If you’d like to learn more insights about post-COVID-19 recruitment, watch our on-demand webinar, COVID-19 lessons: How recruitment will change in 2021, to hear what our panel of recruitment experts have to say.

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