Emily Biscardi, the founder and CEO of Xelerate, a recruitment solutions provider, says we’re living in interesting times. The workforce has been dramatically affected by the pandemic, whether it’s because employees have been cut or furloughed, or because the work they do has faced a sudden increase in demand.

“Unemployment was at 3.5 percent,” she says. “Candidates were coming into interviews with multiple job offers in hand. Now, obviously, there's just a massive talent pool due to all the unemployment. So now recruiters are really just spending more time parsing through incoming resumes, which is a very different position for them to be in compared to three months ago.”

Biscardi spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about how the workforce has been affected by the pandemic and how entrepreneurs are innovating not only to leverage talent but also to leverage their competitive advantages.

Shifting priorities

Biscardi says the biggest shift in the need for a particular talent pool that she’s seen is in the hourly workforce.

“Because of the stay-at-home mandate, some industry sectors are having to get creative about how to get their goods and products to people's homes,” Biscardi says. “Obviously this draws more of an hourly workforce, which is a very different skillset to recruit for. This pool of talent has been become extremely competitive for businesses.”

When it comes to entrepreneurs, she say she see a lot of organizations reaching some stabilization, even though it could be at a very low point. They're focused on reorganizing work functions, re-evaluating talent within the organization and upgrading where possible, and ensuring that their reopening plans support their employees.

Internal, external focus

As companies begin to stabilize, she suggests their attention should turn to less tangible internal issues, such as culture, and external issues, such as innovations in the way services are delivered.

“I'd also say a big focus for entrepreneurs is the culture piece, and how do you sustain your culture remotely and how will your culture effectively be changed when people start to go back to the office?” she says.

When it comes to a company’s external focus, she says part of the consideration should be how an organization can make accessing its services easier for the customer — from the sales process to contracts to the way services are delivered.

“Right now, focus on agility,” Biscardi says. “I don't think you have to necessarily throw your strategy out, but really just listen to the market.”