The Pandemic Effect: What Has Changed in Hiring Since 2019?

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, August 21, 2023
The Pandemic Effect: What Has Changed in Hiring Since 2019?

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Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in Spring 2020, hiring practices have undergone significant adaptations to adapt to the new realities and challenges. Here are some of the key changes in hiring that we've seen.

Remote Work and Virtual Hiring

With the implementation of social distancing measures and lockdowns, remote work and remote hiring became the norm for many industries. As a result, virtual hiring processes, including remote interviews, online assessments, and virtual onboarding, became widespread. This shift allowed companies to continue recruiting while minimizing physical contact and maintaining safety measures.

Organizations who insist workers return to the office have faced significant reductions in the number of willing applicants.

Some companies, spurred by industry pundits and publications like Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, have sought to return employees back to an on-site work model. Many have been frustrated by workers who refuse to return to the office, and organizations who won't compromise have faced significant reductions in the number of willing applicants.

Increased Reliance on Technology

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology in the hiring process. Companies began using various digital tools, such as video conferencing platforms, applicant tracking systems, and online skills assessments to streamline and enhance the recruitment process.

Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype gained widespread adoption for conducting interviews. Additionally, AI-driven tools for candidate screening and assessment gained popularity to manage the high volume of applicants.

Focus on Soft Skills and Adaptability

As businesses faced unprecedented challenges and uncertainty, the importance of soft skills and adaptability in employees became more apparent. Employers started placing greater emphasis on a candidate's ability to work in a remote or hybrid environment, demonstrate resilience, and effectively communicate in a digital setting.

Employers have recognized that hard skills can be taught, but candidates possessing essential soft skills have heightened value.

Revised Job Descriptions and Roles

The pandemic caused a shift in business priorities, leading to the revision of job descriptions and the creation of new roles to address emerging needs. Certain industries saw an increased demand for essential workers (e.g., healthcare, logistics), while others had to adapt their workforce to cater to changing consumer behavior (e.g., e-commerce, online services).

Longer Hiring Processes

Some companies experienced delays in the hiring process due to operational disruptions, economic uncertainties, and growing pains as they were forced to learn how to assess candidates remotely.

The time it takes to fill a position in certain industries has increased during the pandemic.

Many companies also faced financial uncertainties, often due to forces outside their control, causing them to freeze hiring or downsize their workforce. This led to decreased job opportunities for some industries and professions.

However, remote work gave companies in many industries the opportunity to tap into a wider talent pool, breaking down geographical barriers and enabling them to hire candidates from different cities, states, or even countries.

These negative and positive effects were very dependent on the specific industry or market segment in which the organization operated.

Enhanced Employee Benefits and Well-being

In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, some employers introduced or expanded benefits aimed at supporting employee well-being. These benefits have included mental health resources, flexible work arrangements, and additional paid time off.

Recognizing that happy employees are more productive, smart companies adapted their practices and even their strategic mission to ensure their teams were as engaged as possible. This hasn't always been for altruistic motives, however.

Productive employees positively contribute to the bottom line, so there has been a certain amount of profit-driven practicality behind the changes.

These employers began to pay more attention to employee well-being and work-life balance during the pandemic. This emphasis on supporting employees' mental and physical health extended to hiring practices, with companies assessing how potential candidates would fit into a remote or hybrid work culture.

Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The pandemic brought renewed attention to the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Companies have been focusing on creating more inclusive hiring practices and promoting diversity in their teams.

Data has shown that a diverse workforce is more profitable than a homogenous one. Furthermore, companies led by diverse executive teams outperform their competition.

Utilization of Gig Workers and Freelancers

The pandemic highlighted the need for a more flexible workforce. Some companies turned to gig workers and freelancers to meet fluctuating demand and avoid long-term commitments. This gig economy trend affected hiring practices and workforce composition, and pushed many organizations to adapt to changing demands and alternative ways of operating and recruitment.

The pandemic has been an exercise in the value of flexibility for all of us.

Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Recruitment

AI-powered tools have seen an increase in experimentation and practical use to streamline the recruitment process, such as resume screening, candidate matching, and chatbot-based initial interactions with applicants.

There have been some missteps, however, as the maxim "garbage in, garbage out" has highlighted in spades the problem of training hiring algorithms using data heavy with white male candidates from Ivy League schools.

Reevaluation of Workforce Strategies

The pandemic prompted many businesses to reassess their workforce strategies overall. Some companies adapted with more flexible hiring approaches, while others made structural changes to their workforce to be more agile and resilient in future crises.


It's important to note that the specific changes in hiring practices varied depending on factors like industry, geographical location, and the severity of the pandemic's impact in different regions. For example, some industries don't have remote work as an option — think delivery drivers, logistics, and many in the service sector. You can't clean a hotel room over Zoom.

As the situation evolved, hiring practices continued to adapt and evolve in response to the changing circumstances.

Organizations that have learned how to adapt regardless of the cause stand the greatest chance of success when the next disruptive crisis arrives. It's likely a matter of when, not if, and time will tell who is still standing when the dust settles.

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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