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October Jobs Report: Competition is High

The October Employment Situation issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics brought signs of renewed hope to the economy after a slow few months of growth. Employers added 531,000 jobs in October, primarily in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and manufacturing. Additionally, unemployment dropped to 4.6% — continuing on the downward trend we’ve seen since April of 2020. 

Another positive: hiring figures for August and September were revised upward by 235,000 jobs, bringing the three-month average for job growth to 442,000.

As we look forward to the holiday season and pandemic fears continue to ease, we’re likely to see continued growth throughout the year. And with 4.2 million fewer jobs than before the start of the pandemic, we still have a ways to go — but the overwhelmingly positive report has us heading in the right direction. 

However, we aren’t out of the woods yet. Competition for talent is only going to heat up. The holidays drive more demand, and companies like Amazon are able to attract talent through means that smaller organizations can’t always compete with. Additionally, the applicant pool remains smaller than the pre-pandemic level. The workforce participation rate is lingering at 2 percentage points below March of 2020. So even with October’s job growth, hiring is going to continue to be a struggle for some time.

We’re not the same economy and country we were before the pandemic. The workforce has fundamentally changed in terms of what applicants expect from their employers, so we’ll continue to see job gains rising and falling until we reach a point where supply and demand are more even.

Among Hireology customers, we saw a slight increase in jobs created at just over 23,000, but our number of hires dipped slightly to 10,745, likely due to this increased competition that we’ll continue to see as the job market improves slowly but surely.

And our customers’ time-to-hire metric continues to consistently drop — we’ve now seen our first month of under 20 days from application submission to offer letter signed. This tells us that talent goes fast, so as you look to hire and remain competitive, you have to set yourself up to move fast, too. 

There are things you can do to not only survive but win talent and get ahead of hiring challenges as we continue to navigate what’s ahead. Here’s my take.  

Showcase your employer brand

Big companies like Amazon don’t always have the best reputation in terms of working conditions and culture. That’s where you can show that you have a leg up. If you know you can provide workers with more fulfillment, increased happiness at work, more flexibility, and generally better working conditions than Amazon can, you need to make this known through your employer branding. 

Just like you would when selling your company and products to customers, you have to sell your jobs to job seekers. Do this through your career site, job descriptions, social media strategy, and current employees (think: employee referral programs).

Get creative with candidate sourcing

Posting your jobs to Indeed alone won’t cut it any longer. These job boards are incredibly crowded, and it gets extremely expensive to compete with bigger names. Plus, you often end up with far fewer quality applicants when only relying on these types of job boards. 

There are other options at your disposal. As mentioned above, an employee referral program is a great avenue to consider, as it brings in qualified candidates with great ROI. According to data from our employee referral software, EmployUs, one in eight hires made are employee referrals, and you can save an enormous amount of money by investing time and resources into this avenue over job boards.

Other considerations include Jobs on Facebook, better SEO practices to ensure your jobs make it to the top of search results, making improvements to your career site, and sharing jobs on your social channels. 

Move faster

Job seekers have a lot of options these days, and if they’re in communication with other companies, you can’t take weeks — or even days — to respond to them. Every step of the process needs to be consistent and speedy, and you need to set candidate expectations from the start. That way, they know when they’ll be hearing back from you and what the next steps will be. We recommend you strive to hire all candidates in three to four weeks to really ensure you’re getting the best talent.

Offer more incentives 

Many of the biggest companies are paying their talent higher wages. While this is a short-term solution for talent, better pay alone won’t make a long-lasting difference and keep your people in place. Your incentives package needs to include competitive compensation in addition to good benefits, a positive culture, career development opportunities, and work-life balance. You have to think about the whole package if you want to capture and retain quality staff members. 

An all-in-one hiring tool like Hireology helps you build your employer branding, source applicants across multiple channels, and move candidates through your process quickly. During times of hiring turmoil or ease, Hireology can help you hire great people. Reach out to us to see how. 

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