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Open hiring might be the recruitment solution you need right now

Proponents say the technique cuts down on bias and speeds up onboarding. So, when is it right to try?

Open hiring might be the recruitment solution you need right now
[Photo: Free To Use Sounds/Unsplash]
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The coronavirus crisis has had an unprecedented impact on the labor market. Some companies are desperate for more workers–especially grocery, delivery, and healthcare–even as other industries are seeing drastic layoffs.

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In industries with urgent worker demand, we are starting to see niche adoption of open hiring, a recruitment technique that eschews things like interviews and background checks and instead gives jobs on a first-come, first-served basis, opportunities to those who simply want the work. Earlier this year, the Body Shop announced it was taking this approach to fill its unfilled retail positions. The technique was pioneered a year earlier by the New York social enterprise Greyston Bakery, in its North Carolina distribution center.

Proponents believe the practice is fairer and more efficient because there’s no opportunity for decision-making to be affected by intrinsic bias connected to gender, race, age, or other factors.


Related: Who is hiring during COVID-19?


There are a few questions to ask before considering the practice: Are you looking for an incredibly specific skill set? To replace an existing role? Build out a team? Or simply fill seats? Even in the best circumstances and with the most efficient tools, the process can be arduous.

So, is open hiring right for you? Here are some things to consider.

Fighting bias

We all have intrinsic biases that can affect our hiring decisions. According to Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, “the hiring process can be quite stressful and often requires quickly processing significant amounts of information, [which] creates an environment conducive to implicitly biased thinking and decision-making.” By forgoing things such as formal résumés or multiple interviews, employers can avoid some of that unknown influence and provide opportunities to applicants they might have not otherwise considered.

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Speed up onboarding

Open hiring is a much more effective practice for roles that don’t require specific, specialized skill sets or many years of experience. Many of today’s most essential roles—grocery cashiers, delivery workers, fulfillment employees—require far less onboarding for workers to be successful. More detailed recruitment processes can be reserved for roles that require specific skill sets, such as many healthcare positions.

Testing open hiring

Businesses that are considering the implementation of open hiring can counter potential risks by testing the practice in a single store, facility, or region and track the impact before rolling out the technique organization-wide. 

Prepare for the unexpected

In the wake of COVID-19, companies are learning that a lack of recruitment contingency planning can leave them flat-footed when a sudden need arises. Integrating and testing alternative recruitment practices can better prepare companies for the unexpected. This is true for today’s coronavirus needs and in non-pandemic times as well, such as during the holidays.

Beyond open hiring

Globally, organizations are rethinking their hiring and employment plans, making the process as streamlined and accessible to applicants as possible. For highly specialized roles, there are a variety of new tools available. At Beamery, we are now offering New Home, a platform that connects people affected by the COVID-19 layoffs with companies that are still hiring. Candidates can flag the type of jobs that they are interested in through search tools that focus on skills. 

There is no doubt that the pandemic and the resulting uncertainty is stressful for businesses, applicants, and recruitment teams alike, but we are also seeing new practices that could change how people find jobs when we come out on the other side of this.


Abakar Saidov is the CEO of Beamery, the Talent Operating System that helps companies attract, engage, and retain the best talent.