Now is our time to win the war for talent

You can’t interview candidates face-to-face … It isn’t clear how deep this recession will go … In-person training opportunities are no longer available … What a perfect time to build your team!

For years, credit unions talked about how badly they are losing the war for talent: they can’t offer the salaries of big banks, they aren’t as flexible as FinTech start-ups, and career paths are much less defined than in the corporate world. With record low unemployment rates, credit unions just couldn’t compete.

In only a few weeks, everything we thought we knew about the war for talent changed, though. Unemployment hit record highs, businesses everywhere figured out how to make remote work happen, and employers’ words about people-first culture were put to the test. As an executive recruiter, I watched a strange phenomenon. There was an almost immediate shift of power from the job seeker to the employer. Suddenly, candidates, even those currently employed, were reaching out with increased frequency to explore other opportunities – I didn’t expect this. In an uncertain environment, people often cling to the familiar, but something is different today. Whether it is more opportunity to search online for new career options, dissatisfaction with how current employers responded to COVID-19, or concern over the long-term financial stability of their organization, executives are looking to see what else is out there.

Organizations fishing for talent now have deeper, more stocked pools to cast their leads … but many have put hiring on hold. They are unsure about how to navigate the recruiting and on-boarding process in a remote environment. Undoubtedly, there are increased risks to hiring in this environment, but there is also great opportunity. Organizations willing to face the risk and continue hiring may reap incredible rewards.

If you are still focused on building your team, consider these three areas for successful remote hiring:

  1. Rethink Your Recruitment Process

You have a tested and proven hiring process: post opportunities internally; list them on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed; review resumes for basic qualifications; phone screen qualified candidates; bring in top candidates for in-person interviews with a hiring manager or a panel. This process has probably yielded results that have worked for you, but how does it stand up when that in-person interview is virtual? Further, if one of your pre-Covid intentions was to increase diversity hiring, was this process supporting those efforts? As you consider how to source and screen candidates, gain a sense of their qualifications and character, and extend and negotiate offers, examine every step of your process. Ask yourself, are jobs posted in places that maximize your reach? Does the posting state only truly necessary requirements? Can you gain a broader perspective on candidates by extending who participates in the interview to supervisors, peers, and subordinates? If you are not already partnered with a third party, this may be an area to explore, as well: Recruiters may offer support in sourcing and screening that takes time-consuming tasks off your plate and ensures a thorough vetting process without incurring the expense of a full executive search. In a time when the usual tools are not available, different and comprehensive approaches to getting to know candidates will prove invaluable.

  1. Use Assessment Tools Effectively

Recruiters and hiring managers have countless resources available to help better understand the personality and strengths of candidates. Using these tools to understand workplace preferences, behavioral tendencies, and even the capacity to thrive in a remote work environment may help create a clearer picture of a candidate’s suitability. The most effective assessments move beyond personality and team fit and look closely at fulfillment (an important factor in long-term engagement). Are you leveraging these resources? These tools do not replace the human decision-making factor, but they provide context and critical conversation starters that help you and a candidate discover if you are right for one another.

  1. Create High-Touch On-Boarding (even in a remote environment)

The on-boarding process creates a strong first impression for new team members and sets the tone for a new employee’s overall satisfaction and job enjoyment. In normal times, it can be hard to get this right as people are busy with their own to-do lists, nobody else in the company does the job of the new hire, and a tour of the office only takes so long. In a remote environment, things are even trickier. The excitement of a new job can wane quickly if your new employee sits down at the same place they sat yesterday, fires up their computer, and wonders what happens next. Building a plan for the employee’s first week, first month, and first 90 days will make for a much more welcoming on-boarding. Leverage technology and human resources to set up one-on-one meetings, team brainstorming, and even virtual socializing. Reach out to vendors, community partners, and your League to see what they might offer for training on products and services or orientation to the credit union system. A clear plan executed with a regular cadence can make all the difference in engaging new employees.

Bonus: If you are the new employee looking to integrate into a new organization, consider this great read recently shared by a client who welcomed two new executive team members last week.

For years, credit unions have struggled to recruit, develop, and retain top talent. As momentum shifts, now is not the time to hold back. Stay committed to building your team today and you may just find yourself emerging victorious in the war for talent. Ready to build a plan to grow your human capital strategy in a remote environment? I’d love to hear from you at

Jill Nowacki

Jill Nowacki

Jill Nowacki started her career with credit unions in 2001. She has taken on leadership roles at credit unions and state and national trade associations. Now, she uses her experience ... Web: Details