Within just a matter of months, the COVID-19 outbreak has fostered a shift away from the candidate-led markets we’ve become accustomed to, and back to one where employers can exercise more control in the hiring process. At the same time, candidates’ job preferences are changing as the news agenda tightens its gaze on the economic fallout. Employees are also switching between roles less and are more accepting of their current position, not wanting to rock the boat.
Job seekers are becoming less concerned about the quality of roles they are searching for, instead prioritising roles that lie closer to home. Searches for positions with remote working have tripled since March. There’s been a greater demand for roles where workers can contribute to the COVID-19 resistance – including logistics, healthcare and the food retail sector – with many workers redeployed into these areas and transferring their skills towards these causes.
It’s a shift that has seen applications skyrocket, with jobseekers exploring further channels in their search for a new role. In the tighter labour markets we were experiencing in 2019 and the start of 2020, where employment levels were high and candidates were more time-deprived, online job-posting boards were the go-to channel for jobseekers. They condensed a wide range of positions into a digestible format for candidates, who could browse for new roles with speed and efficiency.
Fast forward to Q2 2020, where people not working have more time on their side, and the channels are becoming more dispersed. National newspapers and social media channels have seen a growing number of visits from new candidates. Recruitment organisations and larger-sized firms are welcoming a growth in visitors to their websites, as jobseekers react to news headlines in a bid for their next position.
While these changes give hiring managers wider talent pools to draw from, they also increase the risk of poor-quality responses. Greater volumes of applications will naturally attract more speculative offers, making it difficult for employers to assess which candidates are right for their roles. Many HR managers may not have the resources to siphon through the volume of applications needed to isolate the perfect candidate. There is equally as much pressure on managing your employer brand through carefully considered ‘rejection’ notifications, too.
The opportunity for employers
Hiring managers need to think carefully on their intended audiences and work hard to target them by role, experience and location. Partnering with recruitment organisations to manage large volumes of applications or draw on their talent pipelines within specific sectors, will enable organisations to reach top candidates in increasingly dispersed markets. By getting one step closer to where the job is originally posted, employers can more accurately sharpen their focus on the candidates they need by skillset, sector and location. Teams should consider what is desired versus what is required for a role. If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that agility is key, which translates into hiring for attitude to learn and acquire new skills for the long term, building or bridging between roles.
Organisations should also consider how they are communicating. A strong purpose and message when dealing with their employees, customers, suppliers and associates can elevate a company in the eyes of a promising candidate. Purpose-led organisations during this period will build a strong employer brand for current and future hires.
You can read more labour market insights in the eleventh edition of our Human Age newspaper.