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Key Takeaways from the Latest BLS Data: April 2020

According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on U.S. employment numbers. For the first time since 2010, the March jobs report showed a decline in total payrolls and the unemployment rate jumped from 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent. 

Since the March numbers were released, unemployment claims have continued to spike, due to social distancing measures in most states causing many non-essential businesses to temporarily close.

According to data released on Friday, April 9, more than 16 million Americans have filed for unemployment in recent weeks, accounting for 10 percent of overall payroll in the U.S.  
While nobody can predict how long or to what extent COVID-19 will have an impact on the global economy, organizations across industries need to be prepared to hire qualified talent once social distancing measures are lifted and businesses deemed non-essential can open back up to the public.

Whether your business is actively hiring or challenged by the uncertainty of this economy, the way to survive and thrive is by creating a human capital advantage through your people. This shift in the job market creates an opportunity to revisit your people operations strategy and identify steps for improvement. Below, we’ve outlined some steps you can take to set your team up for success on the people side of your business. 

Improve your employer brand  

Building and maintaining a top-notch employer brand is an ongoing process. Even if your team doesn’t have an immediate hiring need, it’s important to always work toward building a better employer brand, as it can ultimately make or break job seekers’ likelihood of applying to your open roles.

With many industries – including travel and hospitality, to name a few – facing unfortunate layoffs as a result COVID-19, job seekers across the country are looking for new opportunities.  By taking action now to improve your employer brand and position your organization as an employer of choice, you can build a pipeline of prospective applicants – who might not have otherwise considered joining your team –  to have on hand once hiring picks up again. 

A key piece of any great employer brand is the company career site. The most engaged job applicants take the time to research and apply to open roles via career sites, rather than simply clicking “apply” on job boards. 

Your career site should include strong, SEO-friendly job descriptions, defined career paths across departments, employee testimonials, a comprehensive list of benefits and continuous job openings. Also, given the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure to include a section on your career site for the time being that highlights what you’re doing to keep team members and customers safe and healthy during these uncertain times. 

Another area your team can focus on while you might have hiring on hold is crafting more compelling job descriptions. When it comes to your job descriptions, while some of your roles might require specific certifications, your team should also highlight preferred competencies, rather than specific required experience. 

For example, if you’re looking to hire for an administrative role, you can highlight the need for applicants who have strong organizational skills. Since many job seekers will likely apply to your open roles from outside industries, this will help ensure you’re not limiting your talent pool to applicants who have direct industry experience. 

By building and maintaining a strong employment brand and career site, you can attract engaged applicants who are interested in growing their careers with your team.

Streamline your hiring process 

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, unemployment was at a 50-year low. As a result of this tight labor market, there were more open roles than qualified talent to fill them, making hiring highly competitive for employers.

Given the competitive recruitment market, your team was likely in a rush to hire candidates before other employers. In many cases, this can lead to a disjointed process, causing your team to skip hiring steps or overlook qualified candidates along the way. 

If your hiring is on hold or has slowed down in light of COVID-19, this gives your team the opportunity to take time to step back and assess what has been working with your people strategy and key areas for improvement. By taking action to better manage your recruitment and hiring now, you’ll be ready to secure top talent ahead of the competition once this crisis has passed. 

As you measure whether or not your hiring process is working for your organization, actionable data can help you make more informed decisions to improve your hiring efforts in the long run. Hireology customers have access to Insights, actionable Q&A analytics that answer questions such as: How fast am I hiring? Is everyone following my hiring process? What’s my top source of job applicants? 

Armed with this data, you can better understand which steps you need to take to make the hiring process more efficient. If the data shows candidates have traditionally been held up in a certain hiring step – such as the interview process, for example – you can identify ways to streamline this step, like tapping into interview guides with automated scoring. And if you notice a certain location or hiring manager tends to skip steps in the hiring process, you can outline ways to hold them accountable to following each step before hiring picks back up. 

Along with improving your hiring process, actionable data can help you drive cost savings. Hireology’s Sourcing Insight answers the question, “What is my best source of applicants?” and provides clear visibility into the total number of applicants, quality candidates and hires by source. The Insight further provides central visibility into sponsored job board performance, including total sponsored posts purchased, dollars spent, quality applicants sourced, and average cost per quality applicant. By taking a strategic look at this data, you can ensure you’re only investing in applicant channels that drive results. 

Build relationships with candidates 

Whether or not you’ve paused hiring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to stay in touch with candidates so they know the status of their application. Now more than ever, your team should be empathic toward candidates – many job seekers have lost their current roles and are eager to get started with a new job. During these uncertain times, if job seekers end up waiting around to hear back from a hiring manager, this will only lead to added stress – and leave candidates with a poor impression of your brand as a whole. 

If your team isn’t actively hiring at this time, you can keep in touch with candidates to let them know you’re still excited about the possibility of them joining your team once you have an immediate hiring need. Since you’ll already have their contact information on hand from their job application and any initial hiring steps, you can reach out to qualified candidates via email or text message a few weeks or months from now, ask how their job search is going and share any relevant open roles on your team.

Even if candidates have secured other roles by this time, they might still be interested in joining your team. And the continued communication will make candidates realize you’re invested in keeping your people – including both candidates and employees – engaged during a time of crisis. Even if this doesn’t result in hiring the candidates you’ve been in touch with, supporting a positive candidate experience can lead to future job referrals and even new business. 

As the latest statistics show, the COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching implications for employers across industries. Hireology is here to help you put your best team in place no matter the circumstances – if you need assistance, please get in touch by contacting your Hireology Customer Success Manager or support@hireology.com.

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