Americans are getting back to work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employers added 431,000 jobs to the economy in March while unemployment dropped to 3.6%, a new pandemic-era low.
The labor force participation rate increased slightly to 62.4% in March, which is now within 1 point of its pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The labor force grew by 418,000 workers in total and is now within 174,000 of the pre-pandemic state. Hireology customers saw a healthy growth in hires in March as well. Our customers created 27,150 new jobs, drove 372,938 applicants, and made 12,631 hires.
In line with the trends we’ve seen during much of the pandemic, leisure and hospitality led job creation in March with a gain of 112,000. Professional and business services drove the next highest gains with 102,000, the retail sector grew by 49,000, and manufacturing added 38,000.
While these numbers are impressive, it’s important to note that there are some industries that still feel the strain of the post-COVID labor shortage — particularly hospitality and parts of the healthcare sector. And at Hireology we predict this will still remain a challenge for some time. The hospitality industry in particular remains about 1.5 million jobs below the February 2020 level.
Overall it’s worth noting that the economy has recovered more than 90 percent of the 22 million jobs lost at the peak of the pandemic’s impact in early 2020, which is a much faster recovery than most experts predicted.
As folks get back to work, there may be some relief on the way for employers — as long as you’re still prioritizing the great sourcing techniques we discussed for much of 2021. So the key as we enter the second quarter of the year after three impressive months of job growth will be to find ways to make the entire process easier and faster for yourself and your candidates — because in the recruiting space, time is currency.
For most companies that means making sure you have the right tools and processes in place to not only capture interested job seekers but also move them through an easy hiring process. Below is our advice. Hireology CEO, Adam Robinson also summed up his thoughts in this video:
Market your jobs like products
Marketing your jobs like products will make your life a whole lot easier, regardless of your industry. If you’re selling a car, for example, you want to market the right features and selling points to the right audience on the right channels, which will allow you to maximize your ideal customers. The same goes for your jobs — clearly communicate what you offer job seekers and make sure you’re marketing this on the right channels to the right audience. That way, you’ll not only attract more candidates but you’ll also be able to attract the right candidates. For example, in many industries word-of-mouth recruiting is the most effective channel for attracting new talent. In this case, you might want to incentivize your existing employees to refer their friends via your employee referral program and equip them with job descriptions that sell your roles based on the factors that your target talent pool values the most.
Add automation to your hiring process
Whether you’re navigating an influx of candidates or you’re still struggling to attract applicants, adding automation to your hiring process wherever possible saves valuable time you could spend further connecting with talent or moving other candidates along.
Consider adding automated screeners for incoming applicants so you can weed out poor-fit candidates right from the get go — saving you the time it would take to manually screen them. Additionally, anyone in the recruiting space knows that scheduling interviews for multiple roles at once is a tedious and time-consuming process. Candidates and hiring managers have tight schedules, making it tough to find windows of time that work for everyone. So look into tools that automate this process as well. This can save you hours per candidate, empowering your team to work smarter not harder. At the same time, this type of automation makes the interview process much smoother for the candidate too.
Tailor the hiring workflow to each role
Every role you hire for in your organization is different. Some require skill tests while others might require comprehensive background checks and drug screens. Similarly, each role will require input from different groups of people within the organization. Rather than having a standard workflow for every role that can slow you down and cause confusion for your team, tailor the workflow for each role to maximize efficiency. And make sure everyone involved in the hiring process understands the steps upfront.
The best way to do this is with an applicant tracking system that allows for that level of customization. The right tool will give you the option to pre-determine hiring steps for each role and alerts any user in your system of what’s next for each candidate. That way, the entire process moves quickly and no steps fall through the cracks — allowing you to either focus on connecting with more of your incoming applicants or get your top candidates hired faster.
Optimize based on data
Another great way to make the hiring process easier is to get a better sense of what works and what doesn’t and optimize accordingly. For example, understanding which applicant sources lead to the most candidates and eventual hires helps you focus your time and resources on the channels that yield the best results — rather than blindly spending across the board. Similarly, understanding where the most bottlenecks occur in your process can help you improve your hiring workflow, and ultimately velocity, over time.
But understanding what works requires data. So start tracking the numbers of applicants, candidates, and eventual hires that come from each source. And monitor the speed and completion rate of each step in your hiring process. Of course, this is much easier with an applicant tracking tool that has built-in analytics capabilities and can offer best practices for optimizing your efforts. Over time, you’ll be able to prioritize what works best, cut out what doesn’t, and fill your open roles with better people faster.
Rethink new hire onboarding
And finally, any time you get a great candidate through your hiring process, you want to get that person working productively as fast as possible. But for many organizations, the process of converting a candidate to a new employee is a time-consuming, highly manual process. You have to transfer data from your hiring system to all of your internal HR systems by hand — wasting time that your HR folks could be spending moving other great candidates along through the process. Plus, it opens up your risk for error. So look into platforms that integrate your applicant tracking system with your employee management tools, making the transfer of data seamless, accurate, and fast.
Even after all of the data is transferred, many organizations then require new hires to spend their first few days filling out additional paperwork such as tax forms or benefits elections. Onboarding programs like these fail to set new employees up for success from day one and typically result in a poor first impression — ultimately impacting retention. Instead, ask new hires to complete all of this work digitally on their own before day one. That way, they can spend their first few days on the job meeting the team, familiarizing themselves with workflows and processes, and completing necessary training.
Recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic looks different for every business. Some will start to see an influx of candidates as folks slowly get back to work, while others may continue to struggle for the next year. Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, setting your hiring and HR teams to work smarter, not harder is going to help you in the long-run. Find ways to automate, streamline, and optimize your entire hiring workflow — from initial application to hire — and you’ll set yourself up to take full advantage of whatever opportunities come your way.
Hireology’s all-in-one suite of pre- and post-hire tools can help. Schedule a 1:1 demo to learn more today.