Remote Hiring

Flexibility in unstable times is essential

In shaky times, Decathlon kept their jobs online instead of closing them. Read more for the story of how they navigated hiring amidst the uncertainty.

Flexibility in unstable times is essential
Listen to this article. Audio recording by
Lydia Kooistra

Decathlon is a sporting goods store that uses Homerun for their head office hires as well as all retail employee positions for their 21 store locations in the Netherlands. We spoke to Sonja Berkhout, recruiter at Decathlon, about how Homerun's pausing application feature allowed them to build a talent pool and stay flexible while temporarily putting hiring on hold in the face of COVID-19.

Pausing Applications

In response to COVID-19, we launched a feature that allows you to keep your job posts online and build a talent pool while pausing applications (read about how it works here). Candidates can still find your job openings and ask to be notified when you resume hiring. This turned out to be a pretty nifty feature that helped Decathlon take the right steps in this unstable time:

Hiring needed to be in place to be able to quickly react to changes in the situation

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded and the lockdown was announced in the Netherlands, many companies reacted drastically. Many of them closed jobs, took them offline and decided to hold back on hiring while the impact of COVID-19 became more clear. At first, this was also Decathlon's reaction.

"This made me uneasy because summer is peak season for us and this is the time we would normally start hiring retail employees for this busy time. If the lockdown measures were lifted and we had to start hiring from scratch then we would have a problem because we wouldn't be able to fill the positions on time," Sonja explains.

"Pausing applications gave us room to breathe and take the time to decide what the next steps were for our hiring."

This is why when our pause applications feature was launched, Decathlon opted to keep jobs online while simply pausing applications. As it became clear that lockdown measures were gradually being lifted and outdoor sports were becoming a priority for people because of closed gyms, it looked like that summer peak would still happen.

Pausing applications was exactly the middle ground needed for Decathlon to stay flexible as the situation changed. "We had a list of enthusiastic candidates on standby for when it became clear we would need to hire. This without already having them in the hiring process at a time that we weren't sure we could move forward with hiring."

To ensure a good candidate experience with Decathlon, candidates needed to know what they could expect

It doesn't give the best impression to candidates to suddenly take all open jobs offline. It was good to keep the jobs open while pausing applications because it communicates to candidates that hiring will be picked up again eventually. Some of the hiring managers have been so thoughtful as to keep candidates updated on a weekly basis about what Decathlon's current situation is with regard to hiring.

"We can ensure a good candidate experience by managing expectations of candidates that are enthusiastic about working at Decathlon"

Pausing applications instead of closing them makes a lot of sense if a good candidate experience is a priority. "Pausing applications also allowed us to be optimistic and look forward to normalcy again as a company."

It's a unique moment in which Decathlon can add top talent that are on the lookout for jobs to their talent pool

Sadly, many companies that are affected by COVID-19 are letting people go. However, because of this it's a unique moment where top talent is actively looking for jobs. This can really help companies that have struggled to fill positions in the past. This might be fleeting so it's important to be able to embrace this opportunity.

"Keeping our job posts online allows us to have an open line to new talent coming from companies that had to let people go"

"Some positions we had open for the head office, were roles that were quite hard to fill. Keeping them open while pausing applications was a good call because we can already see that we're getting more and different candidates than before COVID-19."

When Decathlon is ready to pick up hiring certain roles in the head office, they have access to a talent pool with top talent that can be informed that Decathlon is ready to receive their applications.

If you're also holding back on hiring, for now, chances are you plan to grow your team again eventually. Make sure you're ready by pausing applications in Homerun. Find out more here.

About the author
Lydia is Homerun’s Content Lead and is based in Amsterdam. She’s passionate about cats, biking, dismantling grind culture and the Oxford comma.

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