Customer Interview: Navigating Talent Acquisition During COVID-19, featuring ZeroCater

April 16, 2020 at 9:54 AM by Ryan Frazier

Customer interview - ZeroCater

We know that COVID-19 has been impacting organizations around the globe, with some industries being affected more so than others.  As a result, Entelo is working to share resources and information to help our customers and the talent acquisition industry as a whole as they navigate this challenging time.

I recently sat down (virtually, of course) with one of our valued customers, Theresa Morgan, Recruiting Manager at ZeroCater, to talk about how this pandemic has impacted their hiring and workforce. Founded in 2009, ZeroCater has become a leading provider of corporate food programs, serving companies including Cisco Systems, Fandango, and Salesforce. In this interview, Theresa shares how your team can be proactive to still add value to the business during this downtime.

1. How has COVID-19 and the current economy impacted your current workforce?

As a company that’s in the Food & Beverage Industry, specifically offering corporate food programs, this is obviously a trying time for ZeroCater. Not only have we been affected by the transition of work-from-home - eliminating the need for in-office catering - a lot of companies are going through layoffs and therefore headcount reductions now due to the impacted economy so that may affect our business as well.

Because of the impact of COVID-19, we have significantly slowed hiring, however, we went into this after one of our strongest months ever. Our company did start during an economic downturn and I am optimistic that although we have hit a major bump in the road, we will come out stronger on the other side. We have an extremely strong leadership team in place that I fully trust to make the right decisions to navigate us through this scary time.


2. Has your team changed your hiring objectives during the pandemic?

When hiring slowed, we only had a few critical backfills to work on. Those that were not recruiting shifted gears to help with major projects. We had already been planning on a number of projects so that we would be in good shape for the hiring boom that we had been anticipating which included doing some system clean-ups and documenting your hiring process. 

Another big area that we also shifted focus towards is employer branding initiatives and coming up with content ideas which are normally pie in the sky for us since we typically have around 40  full-time open requisitions and 12+ part-time role at any given time.

3. With your refocused hiring objectives, what are your current talent acquisition priorities?

While hiring needs are pausing, we are utilizing this time and bandwidth to restart previous initiatives that are often-times put on the back burner when your primary focus is on filling jobs as quickly as possible.

One big project we have - that I think a lot of TA teams can relate to - is finally having the time to fully update/revamp our career site. Even though we do not have the developer bandwidth currently, my team is working to ensure we have the structure outlined, and all content completed so that when the time comes, we can immediately start to build the new site.

Another main priority, while we navigate this uncertain time, is how we are managing our candidate communications. Immediately, we were proactive about communicating with all candidates, whether in-process or pipeline, as well as over-communicate any updates regarding their specific role, possible hiring freezes regarding that specific role or other important issues. We’ve actually gotten quite a few emails from candidates praising our reaction to this situation and how we’ve been fully-transparent with them from the start.

One final priority for my team is training. Just because you are not recruiting does not mean that you cannot sharpen your recruiting skills. We know there are a lot of resources available; from blog posts to webinars and virtual events that are packed with actionable tips and new skills that recruiting and sourcing teams can benefit from, but often-times don’t have time to attend. I have collected a great list of resources to up-skill and train my team while we have the time to really focus on best practices and ways we can improve the hiring process at ZeroCater.


4. Do you have a plan in place for how you will ramp-up hiring once the industry rebounds?

Right now we are really focusing on candidate pipelines so that once hiring picks back up, we have a great pool of candidates to source from. In order to do that, we are currently re-evaluating our tech stack and reallocating our budget to invest more in those tools that historically provided better value for our team to source and engage candidates.

The plan is to bring back our hiring in waves that mirror the rebound in the industry. Our initial focus will be on what we will need to hire to get our clients up and running. Later we will focus on the more growth-focused roles once things stabilize. Taking care of our client base and how we can best do that is our top priority.


5. Any recommendations for other TA teams who might be in a similar situation?

This is a great opportunity for “Spring Cleaning” or getting to some of those projects that hiring always takes priority over. We have been able to collaborate on different projects and tackle some things much faster and come up with better ideas than if we “owned” an entire project on our own and just had someone review it at the end.

Review your hiring process and evaluate the bottlenecks. Could your job descriptions or interview questions use a refresh? This is especially important for evergreen positions that often go on set and forget or that role that you don’t fill very often but when you do it needs a hire fast.

Now is a great time for professional development. There are tons of free resources like podcasts, webinars, and articles that we might normally have the time to read. Explore some of the things that interest you that are peripheral to recruiting like Employer Branding and incorporating Diversity & Inclusion into your future hiring practices.

Lastly, I would also suggest utilizing the strengths of the people on your team and seeing where you can help your company out as some groups in your organization may have the reverse and be swamped right now. If your company is experiencing lay-offs, partner with your HR team to help those displaced with their resumes who are now forced to look for work. How companies treat those employees on their way out will be important to preserve and/or positively boost your employer brand.