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December 2019 Job Report Recap: Key Takeaways and Hiring Tips

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its December 2019 jobs report. According to the latest numbers, the U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate also remained at 3.5 percent, the same rate as November and the lowest in 50 years. As reflected in the December jobs report, this marks a record tenth straight year of job growth, with continuous growth since the end of the recession. 

The total number of jobs added in December was far lower than the 266,000 jobs added in November, but much of the job growth in November can be attributed to GM employees returning from a 40-day strike. As reported by NBCNews, “December’s lower monthly employment total is partially indicative of the difficulty in finding the best candidate amid a tight labor market where job seekers hold the upper edge. The Federal Reserve noted in a recent survey that businesses were having “difficulties in finding qualified workers.

Another key highlight of the latest jobs report was that women outnumbered men in the U.S. workforce for only the second time in history, holding 50.04 percent of payroll jobs. Additionally, of the 145,000 jobs added in December, most – 139,000 – were picked up by women.  

Given the hiring challenges in this tight labor market and increasing number of women in the workforce, what can your team do to attract qualified, diverse job applicants? We’ve outlined some key tips below. 

Write Inclusive Job Descriptions 

While women now make up more than half of the workforce, in many industries, men still outnumber women. For example, in the retail automotive industry, only 19 percent of employees are women. 

Without realizing it, your job descriptions might be targeted more toward men than women. Your team should review your job descriptions on a regular basis to assess the tone and word choice, ensuring the descriptions appeal to a diverse set of job seekers. Some sales job descriptions, for example, use masculine adjectives to explain the job requirements. Or they might even use masculine pronouns such as, “An ideal candidate should demonstrate his negotiation experience.”

If your team uses adjectives that are geared more toward men than women, doing one or both it’s time to switch out the masculine descriptions and adjectives, and describe the skills required of the role more inclusively. Include both masculine and feminine pronouns in your job descriptions – or simply don’t use them at all. And instead of using terms like sales ninja, highlight job requirements such as the ability to move quickly and achieve results. Both minor changes can help you attract more female job seekers and help you build a more diverse team overall. 

Offer Flexible Work Arrangements 

According to The Washington Post a key factor contributing to more women joining the workforce is flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting (working remotely) and parental leave policies. Employers are evolving their work arrangement in an effort to stay competitive when it comes to attracting and hiring top talent in today’s tight labor market.

Many of your employees – both men and women – likely have family obligations at home. Your employees want to succeed in their roles while still having time to see their children’s sports games, pick them up for school and participate in other activities. And an increasing number of U.S. employees are looking for more work flexibility to care for aging parents and other relatives.  

Top job seekers – whether or not they have family obligations – have work-life balance as a top consideration when deciding whether or not to accept a job. To stand out and attract qualified employees, consider offering flexible work arrangements. For example, you can allow employees to work remotely one day a week or adjust their work schedules to come in a little late or leave early, pending they don’t have any important meetings or deadlines at the time. 

By showing your support for working mothers, working fathers, employees caring for their aging relatives and employees who need flexibility for any other reason, you can attract a more diverse set of applicants who might not have otherwise considered joining your team.

Speed Up Your Hiring Process 

Given the stiff competition for top talent, the most qualified candidates are off the market within 10 days of beginning their job search. But many employers take much longer than 10 days to complete hiring process steps – such as reviewing applicants, scheduling and running interviews, and completing candidate verification. If your team’s hiring process takes too long, you’re likely losing prospective employees to other job opportunities. 

To speed up the hiring process and secure top talent, you can tap into technology to automate a few steps along the way. For example, the most time-consuming step in the hiring process often involves reviewing applicants, because many hiring managers complete this step manually. To save time, your team can send automated prescreen surveys as applications come through. Once complete, prescreen surveys are automatically scored and only the most qualified applicants move on to the candidate stage for review by your HR team or hiring manager.

Another step you can automate is candidate verification, such as reference checks and background checks. Doing so can help your team avoid playing phone tag with references or chasing down candidates for background check information. 

With the low unemployment rate holding steady, this makes hiring more challenging than ever before. By having a strategy in place to attract diverse job seekers and better managing your hiring to speed up the process, you can hire top talent who will drive results for your team. For additional tips on running an efficient hiring process, read our resource, “The Seamless Hiring Process Playbook.”

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