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February 2020 Jobs Report Recap: Key Takeaways and Hiring Tips

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its February 2020 jobs report. According to the latest numbers, after ticking up slightly to 3.6 percent in January, the unemployment rate dropped back down to 3.5 percent as of the February report, putting unemployment back at a 50-year low. 

Additionally, the U.S. economy added 273,000 jobs in February. This marked the 113th consecutive month the U.S. economy has added jobs, continuing a record-breaking streak.

While the number of U.S. jobs added continues to exceed expectations, some economists are predicting that the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak might have a more significant impact on the job market in the coming months.  

Despite the uncertainty, the latest numbers show the labor market remains strong, making hiring highly competitive across industries. And today’s job seekers expect an engaging candidate experience from start to finish – or they won’t hesitate to seek out other job opportunities.

What can your team do to stand out and secure quality employees who will drive results for your business no matter the economic conditions? We’ve outlined some hiring best practices below. 

Diversify your recruitment sources and manage costs 

Job seekers have many options when it comes to researching and applying to new roles. Between job boards, social media sites, company career sites and referrals, it can be challenging for employers to break through the noise and reach top job seekers where they’re searching for their next career move. 

With a diverse recruitment marketing strategy in place, your team can expand the reach of your open roles and ensure you’re not only investing in one recruitment channel with limited insight into ROI. Many employers make the mistake of simply purchasing a one-off job board posting each time they have an open role. But by taking this approach, you’ll only reach a limited number of prospective applicants and risk overspending on applicant channels that don’t drive results. 

Hireology data found that a multichannel recruitment strategy results in five times more quality applicants than investing in one channel alone. Your recruitment sources should include a mix of job boards – such as national, local and niche, industry-specific job boards – as well as a compelling career site that excites top talent about joining your team. 

With a diverse set of applicant sources, your team can better determine what’s working and what’s not with your recruitment strategy – and eliminate channels that aren’t leading to quality applicants and eventual hires, driving cost savings. And a cost-effective recruitment strategy is key to boosting profitability at your organization in any economic climate. 

Review applicants quickly

In today’s competitive hiring market, top talent gets taken off the market quickly. In fact, the most qualified job seekers receive job offers within 10 days of starting the job search. 

If your team doesn’t have a strategy in place to efficiently manage your hiring process, you’ll risk losing top talent to other job opportunities. At Hireology, we’ve coined the term “lost applicant” to refer to this phenomenon. 

Across Hireology customers, one in five dealership applicants and one in 10 healthcare applicants were lost in 2019 simply because they were either never reviewed by a hiring manager or were reviewed too late. 

The costs associated with lost applicants – and attracting new applicants – add up quickly. Costs can include investing more in recruitment marketing channels such as job boards, time spent on unqualified applicants and lost productivity due to open roles.

To avoid lost applicants at your organization, the first step you can take is reviewing applicants in a timely manner. Hold all hiring managers accountable to setting aside time each day to review applicants – so no applicant goes unnoticed for more than 24 hours.

The abundance of job opportunities available to job seekers means the most qualified talent will quickly lose interest in your open roles if your team doesn’t keep them engaged. To speed up initial applicant review, your team can also implement prescreen surveys to weed out unqualified applicants before they even reach your hiring managers’ queue.

Support an engaging candidate experience

Beyond speeding up initial applicant review time, it’s important for your team to keep candidates engaged by moving each step of the hiring process along quickly. One step in particular in which employers tend to lose applicants is the interview stage. Recent data found that 70 percent of job candidates lose interest in job opportunities if they don’t hear back within a week of an interview. 

To run more efficient interviews and support a top-notch candidate experience, your team can tap into interview guides, which ensure you ask all candidates the same, objective questions. Post-interview, these guides enable you to streamline all feedback from team members involved in the hiring process, helping you quickly move forward with candidates who are the best fit for open roles. 

Given the coronavirus outbreak, many companies – including large tech organizations like Google, Amazon and Facebook – have limited in-person job interviews for the time being. If this is the case with your team, you can keep the hiring process moving by offering qualified candidates phone and video interviews – rather than putting your hiring process on hold and potentially missing out on top talent. 

Some additional measures you can take to run an efficient hiring process and keep candidates engaged as a result include automating certain steps of the hiring process that would otherwise cause candidates to get held up – such as reference and background checks.

To seamlessly automate reference checks, candidates have the option to fill in their references’ contact information and surveys are automatically distributed to references. This saves your team from playing phone tag with potential references – which would ultimately slow down the hiring process. References can fill out the survey on their own time and automated reference checks take less than two days to complete, with an average response rate of 85 percent. And for background checks candidates submit the required personal information and the rest of the process is taken care of automatically.

Employees are any organization’s primary source of competitive advantage and it’s critical to have the right team in place no matter the economic conditions. By reviewing all applicants in a timely manner and effectively managing your hiring process, you can secure top talent who will drive productivity and profitability for your team – before they receive competing job offers.

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