As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ripple through the economy, both recent graduates and workforce veterans are searching for opportunities to advance their careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With social distancing measures limiting face-to-face contact, companies and candidates must adopt new strategies. But what happens after the pandemic subsides? Will businesses continue to utilize virtual recruiting methods to reach more candidates and cut costs? Technological advancements in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to improve the precision and efficiency of these tools, allowing recruiters to connect with candidates easily—regardless of how physically distant they may be.

Connecting Candidates to Companies

Even before COVID-19, recruiters in STEM have increasingly relied on virtual recruitment. Data from Aptitude Research indicates that a digital transformation strategy doubles the chance of increasing hire quality and triples the likelihood of offering a better candidate experience.5 The pandemic has accelerated its adoption. Instead of candidates and recruiters navigating the crowded lines that accompany on-campus recruitment, platforms like Zoom can connect applicants with companies from the convenience of their own homes. To enhance online interviewing, firms are pouring more and more resources into digital platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and even Instagram.1 Private companies aren’t the only ones leaping online recruiting—so is the U.S. military, which employs a vast number of STEM workers.

Making an Online Impression

In the past, employers relied on virtual events and online platforms to attract rather than evaluate candidates, but online interviews are the new norm. Candidates are also being judged more on their online presence than ever before. To stay competitive, candidates should perfect their online profiles, review their recommendations, and improve their portfolios.3 Supplementary materials like cover letters or project addendums demonstrate commitment to employers who don’t have a chance to evaluate candidates in person. For STEM students, acing the virtual interview means polishing soft skills like communication and body language. Since video and phone interviews may be shorter, making a positive first impression is paramount. Remote platforms won’t take the human aspect out of recruiting, but they will make strong communication skills more vital than ever.

A More Efficient Future

Increased reliance on technology will improve recruitment efficiency across the board. Machine learning is used to appraise candidate experience, workforce data, and recruitment productivity.3 More processes will be automated, simplifying scheduling, communication, and job board spending. As employers push recruiting activities onto a single platform or technology, data collection will improve. Because of the subjective nature of interviews, human involvement will remain indispensable. Nevertheless, a greater abundance of data will help employers analyze which metrics are most important so they can improve recruitment processes and cut time-to-hire. Better time management strategies, coupled with precision targeting, will let companies screen more quality candidates in less time.

Casting a Wider Net

A massive advantage to virtual recruitment is the wider geographical reach and a higher number of candidates available to employers. Not only can employers contact more candidates, but they can also save money by cutting travel costs. As digitally-savvy Gen Zs enter the workforce, virtual methods are a clear benefit for many recruiters. With digital communication— via text or web messengers—so omnipresent in our everyday lives, going virtual is the natural step forward. Virtual career fairs will also eliminate on-campus issues with overcrowding and long lines. Companies can also increase engagement by using online platforms to show candidates videos and articles about the organization while they wait for their interview.

How AI Will Build Better Recruitment

The growth of virtual recruitment will go hand-in-hand with advancements in AI. Using machine learning, employers can accurately filter through applicants to find the best matches. Instead of wasting hundreds of hours going through each application by hand, recruiters can cut to the chase by viewing the top matches for each position.4  AI will also help create a more organized planning center because companies can design, launch, and analyze recruitment campaigns from one platform. Finally, it can also make sure employers are matching high-potential candidates to the best virtual events, as well as directing candidates to positions that suit them rather than just relying on keywords.

The COVID-19 pandemic will leave lasting impacts on the way STEM recruits talent. Social distancing measures may eventually relax, but virtual recruitment is here to stay. AllSTEM Connections can work with you to attract top talent in our new virtual world. Visit our website at for more information.