The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Employment Situation revealed that the unemployment rate is once again on the decline, dropping from 6.1% to 5.8%. 559,000 jobs were added in May, more than twice as many as April’s numbers.
As restrictions continue to ease with over 40% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, schools and businesses are reopening, causing hiring to spike. The largest job gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector, with 292,000 jobs added to restaurants and bars, and public and private education added 144,000 jobs.
Additionally, the healthcare and social assistance sector added 46,000 jobs, transportation and warehousing added 23,000 jobs, and professional and business services saw an increase of 35,000 jobs.
Hireology customers also fared well last month, making over 10,000 hires. Our customers have seen an average of just over 8,000 hires per month in 2021, so this trend is encouraging.
We’re seeing other promising economic patterns as well: new businesses are opening at the fastest pace on record, the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid has fallen for the fifth consecutive week, and analysts project that by the end of 2021, gross domestic product will exceed pre-pandemic predictions.
While the economy seems to be on the rebound, it’s a mixed bag as employers are still struggling to fill their open roles for myriad reasons, including ongoing COVID-19 concerns, caregiver responsibilities, and heightened unemployment benefits that make low-paying jobs less attractive.
And it’s important to note that the decline in the unemployment rate is in part due to individuals leaving the workforce altogether. 53,000 individuals left the labor force last month, a common trend throughout the pandemic due partially to Baby Boomers opting for early retirement and parents — especially women — leaving the workforce to care for their children in the absence of childcare. In fact, from February 2020 to February 2021, 1.8 million men and 2.4 million women left the labor force.
So, while we had a positive month of growth, we aren’t in the clear yet. Economists predict a bumpy road through the summer, however businesses and workers will likely fare better following the downturn than after recent recessions.
An effective sourcing channel strategy and a great process are always important. And they are essential if you want to win in this economy, so here are some additional steps you can take to attract top applicants in the coming months.
And Adam Robinson, Hireology’s CEO did a quick digestible recap video below.
Make applications accessible
You can’t just post a job on a job board and expect to see traction. You should have a presence on a variety of sources, track which sources perform best, and optimize your strategy accordingly.
And filling out a job application shouldn’t be an arduous process. If your application requires folks to fill out pages and pages of information, you’ve already lost a significant number of applicants. You should create mobile-friendly, straightforward applications that ask the essential questions and leave the rest for skills tests and interviews.
Sell your organization
Make sure in all aspects of your attracting and hiring process, you’re selling your organization.
On your career site and social media channels, for example, make it known how great it is to work for you by talking about the perks and benefits you offer, showcasing your culture, and providing glimpses into a day in the life at your company.
Be consistent about communicating with candidates throughout the hiring process so they know where they stand and that you’re interested in them. Create a welcoming and inclusive environment in your interviews, and invest in software to keep the process organized and moving swiftly. Last month, our customers’ hiring process lasted an average of 23 days, which is a huge part of what helped them secure top talent, as the best employees get scooped up even quicker than normal these days.
As the applicant pool declines, your competition grows. Remember that you’re not simply competing with employers in your industry; you’re actually not even solely competing with employers. Working for your company has to be more appealing than being unemployed, too, because the added unemployment benefits allow individuals who previously made less than $32,000 a year to earn more at home.
So in order to remain competitive, you’ve got to incentivize applicants. A trend we’ve seen month over month is that companies are increasing their wage offerings to attract new employees. April saw a 21-cent gain for hourly workers, and in May, pay rose by 15 cents an hour. These ongoing increases contribute to the pattern of strong wage growth we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.
So a surefire way to attract new employees, of course, is to pay them more, but that’s not the only option you have. Restaurants are offering free food to interviewees, some businesses, including Amazon, are offering signing bonuses, and one company is even offering grants of up to $1,500 to employees returning to onsite work who need help paying for child care or remote learning. And if you’re struggling to retain talent, consider offering retention bonuses, like $150 after an employee’s 150th day.
Improve your process
Note the gaps in your hiring process and improve upon them. Knowing where your highest quality applicants are coming from is a great starting point to enhancing your sourcing efforts, but you shouldn’t stop there. What steps of your process take the longest? Where are you seeing inconsistencies? Do you ask each candidate the same questions to promote impartiality? Are you automating candidate verifications to help keep the process moving? Are you keeping candidates engaged throughout with text messages along the way?
All of these elements of your hiring process should move swiftly and work together to ensure you’re able to secure top talent before someone else does.
Promote safety precautions & provide flexibility
When it comes to keeping your current staff around and attracting new talent, outlining precautions you’re taking to keep employees and customers safe is important. Outline in interviews and in staff meetings the precautionary measures you’re taking to keep everyone healthy and comfortable. This will hopefully help quell some concerns for those that are worried about being exposed to the virus. For tips on what to communicate to staff and applicants, you can check out this blog.
And, for the individuals who have left the workforce due to caregiver responsibilities, offering schedule flexibility will give you the opportunity to attract these and other workers looking for a bit more leniency than a typical full or part-time job may allow for. Flexibility isn’t all about scheduling either. Offering remote work, paid time off, and mental health days are a great way to show your applicants and employees that you value their work-life balance.
We know the last 15 months have been anything but easy. And though we expect some twists and turns on the road ahead, we’re confident we can help you navigate your hiring process. Reach out to us to chat about how we can help.