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Recruiting Top Talent in a Pandemic World

By: Harkins Director of Human Resources Kathy Humm

Recruiting plays a key role in the success of every organization. With the right candidates, we can cultivate desired skillsets and continue to provide a culture that aligns with our vision, purpose, and goals. While recruiting top talent is challenging on any given day, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges that caused many businesses to shift their approach to conform with restrictions in the marketplace. One of the biggest changes was the shift to a virtual recruiting strategy. Hiring managers quickly adapted to this new model of doing business, which allowed Harkins to continue hiring top talent based on project staffing needs.

Harkins was fortunate to have launched Microsoft Teams company-wide prior to the onset of the pandemic, which was a major advantage in the virtual interview process. This technology allowed hiring managers to interview candidates using video capabilities for quicker access to responses and to better understand their body language in comparison to a phone screening. In addition, video interviews provide immediate insight into the candidate’s ability to communicate and use technology effectively, which are important skill sets that we look for in potential hires.  Although in-person interviews are preferred, virtual interviews were an optimal solution considering the circumstances. Harkins continues to use a hybrid model of Teams and in-person interviews, which have proven to be successful in our recruiting efforts.

While the world shut down and transitioned to virtual hiring practices, Harkins developed new strategies to attract and retain top talent.

  • Virtual Career Fairs – Harkins planned and hosted virtual career fairs to attract candidates with non-traditional degrees.
  • Winter Internship Program – Harkins kicked off its first program in January 2022 that welcomed nine aspiring construction workers to be placed on some of our most challenging projects with no construction management experience or education necessary.
  • College Champions – This approach has allowed our alumni to get in the classroom, meet professors, and determine the right candidates through networking and mentoring current students.
  • Expanded Interview Process – This now includes on-site walks with hiring managers and lead superintendents on active jobsites to gain insight into the candidate’s knowledge of construction, their strengths, and areas of opportunity, which has already proven to be a game-changer for Harkins.

Onboarding new hires during a pandemic has had its challenges, but Harkins continues to have ongoing conversations about our new hire experience to ensure that building relationships is a top priority for employee growth and development. When feasible, our teams have utilized an in-person and/or hybrid collaboration model to acclimate new hires to the Harkins family. As a company, we pride ourselves on grooming the next generation of leaders through building exceptional talent, and we will continue to do so for years to come.