Where Did All The Applicants Go?

Unemployment Has Skyrocketed, But Where Are The Applicants?

The past 60 days have been unprecedented, and have presented the business community with unique challenges. Across all industries, businesses have had to adapt and make changes to their day to day processes. While some businesses were forced to close due to government orders, others saw their sales skyrocket due to increased demand. For businesses who have seen an increase in demand, many have had to add new employees to their organization. Typically, this wouldn’t be an issue, but application traffic has plummeted during the pandemic. As communities across America begin to reopen, businesses will be even more desperate for employees. Despite record unemployment, businesses will have to fight over the limited number of applicants or be left with open job slots. 

During past recessions, higher unemployment rates have resulted in a significant increase in applications. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a unique recession and applications have actually decreased over the last few months.  

Below we will investigate some of the major reasons for this unique challenge and offer some insight into potential solutions as you navigate the candidate marketplace. 

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

  • In the state of Virginia, unemployed workers across all industries can qualify for almost double their working salary. This is due to the CARES Act that provides unemployed workers with an additional $600 in weekly benefits. 
  • Since many unemployed workers are being paid more to stay home, there is no motivation to jump back into the workforce
  • In some instances, our team has spoken to employees who are now earning almost $750 per week in unemployment benefits. These are employees who, prior to the pandemic, were working part time earning $125 per week.

Virus Fears 

  • COVID-19 is a very real threat, and for many, the risk of infection is not worth the risk. 
  • Many workers are at a high risk or have family members who are at a high risk.
  • Workers are scared to be around other co-workers or customers.  

Employees Aren’t Hunting

  • Many employees who managed to keep their jobs during the pandemic are not on the hunt for a new job. Employees are grateful to have a job and do not want to take a chance of messing up what they already have. 
  • Until consumer confidence begins to return we anticipate that currently employed candidates will stay put. 

Child Care

  • With schools closed, many workers have had to resign from their jobs in order to stay home with their children. Most blue collar jobs do not offer “work from home” options and employees do not have the financial means to afford costly child care services. 

Tools To Help Fill Your Openings

When the economy fully reopens, businesses will not have the luxury of time and will need to begin earning revenue immediately. Due to the above factors, many employees will choose not to reenter the workforce and prioritizing candidate acquisition will be pivotal to a company’s post-pandemic success. 

Below are a few insights and recommendations that we hope will help your hiring team as they work to attract candidates today, tomorrow, & into the future:

Create Effective Job Ads

  • It is critical that the job ads you place on your website, job board, and social media account are designed correctly. Your #1 goal is to get a potential candidate to click apply. If they are not a good fit, you can make that call, don’t let a potential candidate talk themselves out of the job before they even apply.
  • Check out our blog post on writing effective job ads https://www.thecandidatesource.com/creating-job-ads-that-work/

Reach Out

  • Many candidates choose not to apply for positions because they lack experience despite the fact that they may be a perfect fit for the position. By reaching out to candidates you can educate them on your openings and why they may be perfect for the job. 
  • Career changes are extremely common during economic downturns as employees begin to look for positions that may offer more security than the position they just left. 
  • Just like selling a potential customer on your product or service, selling a candidate on your company can be just as rewarding

Offer Bonuses

  • Utilize your current employees to recruit for you. We recommend rolling out a robust referral program that will incentivize your team. To ensure that you design a referral program that your employees want, we recommend surveying your current workforce and asking them what type of incentives would motivate them to refer candidates. If you are worried about what they will say, offer 4-6 different options and see what they prefer. You may be surprised. 
  • On the other side of the coin, we also recommend offering a creative hiring bonus. Instead of a chunk of cash, we encourage you to be creative and think outside the box. Consider offering a “Welcome Aboard Package” that gives new employees a few choices. From a gift card to a nice restaurant, to 4 passes to Busch Gardens, the goal is to make them feel appreciated and thoughtfulness goes a long way. Offering cash is impersonal and doesn’t create any type of memory. 

Hire A Staffing Firm

  • To ensure your positions do not go unfilled, it is critical that you have more than one vehicle for attracting candidates to your business. Staffing firms will recruit candidates specifically for your business and work on your behalf to sell them on your company. The best part is you don’t pay anything unless they find you someone and fill one of your positions 
  • Staffing firms also offer you and your team a flexible workforce. If you are uncertain about demand and how long it will last, you can bring on employees temporarily without any long term commitment. This will allow you to meet customer demand without jeopardizing the company’s future. 

Demonstrate Appreciation & Gratefulness

  • For the employees who stuck it out during the pandemic we suggest doing something to show them how much you appreciate them. We have listed a few ideas that we have seen implemented by different firms in our community:
    • Buy lunch and/or dinner every Friday 
    • Offer bonuses or pay raises
    • Hazard pay 
    • Loosen the dress code
  • Remember that many employees may be working full time and earning less than one of their friends who is sitting at home on unemployment. That can be extremely discouraging. 

Adjust Hiring Requirements

  • Since unemployment was at historic lows prior to the pandemic, many businesses had already begun to loosen hiring requirements. We recommend doubling down on this effort. 
  • Meet with your managers and identify what skills are: 
    1. Absolutely essential
    2. Trainable
    3. Nice-to-Haves