Nothing sums up the impact of covid-19 on businesses quite like digitalisation. Not only has the pandemic pushed companies towards digital technologies and online channels, it has also changed the hiring process to one that is digital-first.

This shift is evident in Bangladesh. Traditionally offline companies, like supermarket chains Meena Bazar and Shwapno, launched online shops to serve customers who could not leave their homes. Online businesses, such as e-grocer Chaldal and food delivery app foodpanda, scaled up their workforce to meet the increased consumer demand coming via the internet. Notably, the recruitment processes of companies have also moved towards digital, based on insights from Kormo Jobs, a job-matching app by Google that was first launched in Dhaka two years ago and is also available in India and Indonesia today.

Job-seekers are adapting to digital-first hiring, which has become the new normal in the job market. Many who have seen covid-19 affect their livelihoods are turning online to look for jobs or to learn new skills to find new employment opportunities. During the pandemic, Kormo Jobs saw more monthly active users in all three countries compared with a year ago. Many of these were youths or job-seekers who live outside of central cities. The latter now make up close to 50% of users on Kormo Jobs, which demonstrates the reach of digital hiring platforms. More women have also used the app to apply for jobs amid the pandemic, most commonly in customer support or call centre roles.

Correspondingly, recruiters in Bangladesh are looking for candidates online, especially in rapidly growing industries like e-commerce, and the delivery, customer support and warehouse positions that support it. Delivery roles form the highest share of jobs on the platform – consistently making up about a third of total openings posted in the past four quarters – followed by customer support or call centre roles. Companies looking to quickly hire a large number of people to support a burgeoning business will benefit from using digital hiring platforms, because of their reach.

More companies are also running purely online recruitment initiatives like virtual job fairs. These events enable job-seekers to easily view an extensive list of openings in each company and directly connect to potential employers. Since the pandemic, Kormo Jobs has facilitated dozens of virtual job fairs on its platform, on the back of increased interest among companies to conduct their recruitment online. Most recently, Kormo Jobs held Mega Job Fair, where it worked with youth engagement agencies and local businesses to connect job-seekers to openings. Companies that previously found hiring time-consuming and labour-intensive now have a more efficient and sustainable option in virtual job fairs.

Remote interviews are becoming the default for recruiters when it comes to assessing candidates, with video calls taking the place of onsite, in-person interviews. On Kormo Jobs, more than half of interviews today take place virtually, enabled by the ‘remote interviewing’ feature that was added to the app last year. In line with remote interviews, companies are developing online skills assessment tools to identify candidates who meet skills criteria, which could include communications or technical skills. These methods boost productivity: as job-seekers and employers attend interviews virtually and save on commute, they get more time to work on other tasks.

Given travel restrictions and digitalisation, more companies are adopting remote work policies, allowing employees to work from anywhere and not have to commute to the office as long as they are connected to the workplace digitally. On Kormo Jobs, ‘work from home’ openings have grown in the past year, and now account for about one in seven jobs posted on the platform. Recruiting is no longer restricted by the physical location of candidates, and this freedom is allowing companies to source talent from more areas. Jobs that previously would have been filled by people in the capital Dhaka are now open to people from neighbouring districts.

The above trends have played out in a similar fashion in India and Indonesia. Fuelled by a matching e-commerce boom, total jobs posted on the app in India have grown since the pandemic, mostly for delivery, telesales and customer support roles. In Indonesia, field-based jobs, such as field salespersons and brand promoters, have led to a surge in vacancies. Like Bangladesh, India and Indonesia are also seeing more recruiting activity occurring outside of their major cities, another testament to the influence and reach of digital-first platforms.

The pandemic may have driven these shifts towards digital-first hiring. But they are making the job market more democratic and diverse, and hiring practices more efficient, productive and sustainable in a way that will long outlast covid-19. Bangladeshi companies, engagement agencies, hiring platforms and job-seekers must all adapt for a future where hiring is most certainly going to be digital-first.

 


Kashif Chowdhury, Omar Rakib and Kamrul Hassan of Skycon (Kormo Jobs’ local partner in Bangladesh) provided research support for this article.

 

Photo ©️ Kormo by Google

 

Bickey Russell is Director of Operations at Google’s Next Billion Users initiative. He is a tech and innovation strategist. He is also an advisor at Maya, a healthtech startup. He was a founder of Area 120 at Google and leads Kormo – a career development service for emerging markets. He was Head of Agency Development at Google. He pursued his graduate studies at King’s College London, UK.