April 20, 2020

COVID-19: Challenging the ‘status quo’ of recruitment

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April 20, 2020

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If the ‘status quo’ of your recruitment operation hasn’t been challenged in the last several years – by shifting job seeker behavior, low unemployment, emerging technologies, and unprecedented access to data – let this be the time. The times have changed and so should you. Here’s why:

In Feb 2008, the U.S. economy had its first negative jobs report that led to the Great Recession (more jobs lost than added), which would be the beginning of a two-year slide of negative jobs reports. In aggregate, we lost 8.6 million jobs in 23 months.  

Then, from Feb 2010 through Feb 2020, we added 20 million jobs and saw the lowest unemployment since 1969.

Now, just a short six weeks later, we have lost 22 million jobs in just four weeks in the United States, erasing 10 years of growth.

When people talk about these unprecedented times, this is what they mean. How does an economy lose 21 million jobs in a matter of a month? What do these 21 million people (as we haven’t really “lost jobs” as much as people have “lost income”) do to pay for next week’s groceries, heat or electricity?

Furthermore, those people are looking to the states for unemployment and where many states were staffed to handle less than 10,000 claims a week they are now grappling with unemployment claims of 100,000 or 200,000 in a week. They simply can’t process the claims fast enough to help these people, and many states are running out of money.

This leads us to the job seeker community.

Many of those aforementioned people should be looking for jobs – and many of them are – but the behavior, the way they look for jobs has changed, nearly overnight.

Until mid-March, candidate behavior was predictable, steady, slowly changing with the times:  60% of clicks, 50% of applies coming through on a mobile device . . . 50% more applies on Monday’s and Tuesday’s than on Saturdays or Sundays. And the world went round.

And then mid-March happened.

The first states started social distancing and closing sit down restaurants, hair salons, and other services where close contact was presumed. And we got the first 3 million people filing for unemployment.

That weekend and the following days we saw a behavior rarely seen in recruiting – the candidate market paused. People just stopped looking for jobs. But by later in the week, those folks, recently unemployed, and in need of a way to buy groceries, started looking for jobs and a few things became readily apparent:

  1. Press releases, news cycles and consumer brands drive candidate engagement
  2. Far more people are using their mobile device to search for jobs – across the board, we are seeing 10%+ bump in mobile device usage
  3. Apply rates are dropping – people are browsing jobs – they are applying to far fewer
  4. Job search now looks nearly the same, all week long. Those midday candidate surges are currently on pause and most companies are seeing a more even distribution of candidates throughout the week

What does this all mean?

It means you need to adjust what your recruiting strategy to react to the new normal.

  1. If you aren’t one of those companies that were lucky enough to catch a news cycle or where people already shop, you still need to work to get candidates. You need a plan to compete and win. 
  2. If you don’t have a fully optimized, easy application process for a mobile device – get one. Seek help – use on-site applies on your job sites. Do not allow these candidates to slip through the cracks because your career site can’t handle them.
  3. If you are serious about hiring – make sure your candidates know this. Add “Hiring Now’” in the title.
  4. Change up your distribution of when you post jobs – try creating those jobs and posting them on days you might not typically use.
  5. Try different bids on your jobs (up and down) and find the new price point to find the types of candidates you need

For a more in-depth look at the data behind these tips, feel free to dig into our resources on the impact of COVID-19 on the recruiting industry as a whole and for several key industries and job functions.

The challenge is that the market is shifting at an unprecedented rate – what is true today is out of date tomorrow. Humans can’t process this much change to make good decisions. Unexpected surge hiring has become a new normal as a warehouse is forced to close and other warehouses have to pick up the slack. Leverage adaptive technology that can help you find who you need, and what you need to spend to find them, to keep businesses moving forward.  

The times have changed, and so should you.

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