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December BLS Jobs Report: Prioritize HR Investments

The December Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report showed continued signs of an uneven recovery as we close out 2021. Employers added a mere 199,000 new jobs in December — less than half what experts predicted. It’s clear that the road to economic recovery is not a linear one, but rather, one with many ups and downs — especially as we navigate new variants, rising inflation, and supply chain issues. To date, we’re still roughly 3.6 million jobs below the February 2020 numbers.

Businesses in the hospitality space led the December gains with 53,000 new jobs created. Professional and business services, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing rounded out the top five industries in terms of growth. At Hireology in December, we helped customers make 8,803 new hires. While December was lower than average for us, we ended 2021 at nearly 127,000 new hires in total.

Although we’re still well below the February 2020 jobs numbers, the unemployment rate is down to 3.9%. This means that there are significantly fewer people in the workforce than there were before the pandemic — due to factors like “The Great Resignation,” early retirement, lack of childcare, and more. Experts estimate that there are two unemployed workers for every three job openings. For the folks who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, this is a great thing. Anyone who can and wants to work, is able to. But for employers it’s a real challenge.

So what can you do to stand out and build your best team? The key to success will be prioritizing investments in HR. At a time when hiring is particularly tough, you can’t afford to treat HR as a cost center. Nor can you afford to continue doing what you’ve already done when it comes to recruiting and hiring. You have to make a real change to your efforts and that requires investing accordingly.

Below is our advice on what to focus on in January 2022 and beyond. Or if you’d like to hear me speak about this directly, watch the video below.

Incorporate traditional marketing tactics

Given that folks have plenty of options for employment, your target audience isn’t spending their day scouring job boards. Instead they’re on social media, they’re working online, and they’re out in their communities. So why not reach them there? Think like a marketer and communicate your unique offerings on channels that matter. We’ve seen customers have success with out-of-the-box approaches like TikTok, billboards, display ads, and perhaps most effectively, word-of-mouth through their own employees.

Get creative with employee referrals

Qualified talent is more likely to apply to your open roles if they hear about it through a trusted friend of acquaintance — this is especially true in the hospitality industry. So if you don’t already have an employee referral program in place it’s time to start one now. If you do, chances are it’s in need of some love. Think creatively when it comes to promoting your program internally and motivating folks to participate. One approach many Hireology customers have found success with is gamifying their program and tapping into their teams’ competitive side. This might include creating a public leaderboard to promote competition or rewarding your top performers with additional cash bonuses or other prizes. 

Invest in texting capabilities

If you’re still cold calling or emailing your target recruits, you’re not going to see results in 2022. Today’s job seekers are younger, they’re more tech savvy, and they’re just not going to answer the phone to an unknown number. But they will think twice about a text. Texting cuts through the clutter of email inboxes and makes it significantly easier for them to respond. And even if they don’t respond right away, they’ll remember the name of your company for future opportunities.

Compete on more than just pay

Offering higher wages is table stakes these days. You need to find ways to stand out beyond it. Job seekers want to know that you care about them as human beings. And that you’re going to create a positive working environment for them. Do your employees have the flexibility to take their kids to the doctor during the day? Do you offer to support transportation costs to and from work? What about career growth opportunities? Figure out what matters to your target audience and what makes you stand out and market it effectively through the channels mentioned above.

As we head into a new year, we’re still seeing many of the same patterns we saw in 2021. While the economy slowly recovers, a large group of the folks who left the workforce in 2020 have yet to return. And it puts you in a difficult position as an employer. The key is to invest in a great foundation of recruiting tactics that will pay off in the long run — such as great employer branding, modern candidate communication, and improved employee referral programs.

Don’t do it alone. Hireology is here to help. Schedule a free demo today to learn about how our all-in-one recruiting and hiring platform can help you navigate today’s hiring challenges.

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