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A Look at the Hiring Landscape as the Economy Rebuilds

Erin Iafelice

First, the good news: The economy is rebuilding. Post-pandemic, organizations are poised for a significant upswing in sales and revenue growth. In addition, more than three-quarters of employers (77%) expect to return to pre-pandemic hiring levels by the end of 2021.

Now for the not-so-good news: There’s a workforce shortage preventing companies from capitalizing on the economic rebound. Applicant flow is down, and the candidate pool has changed. Wondering how your recruiting team can find an edge in this new hiring landscape? Read on for ideas you can start using now.

Why quality of hire has become more important

To accelerate market leadership, organizations need to hire more than just any capable worker. They must attract and lockdown candidates likely to remain on the job and perform well under new COVID-related policies. Fifty-two percent of recruiters say that improving quality of hire has become a top priority for their teams in 2021. Here are some of the hiring landscape changes they’ll contend with:

High employee burnout and voluntary turnover rates. Employees report high levels of stress and burnout as they’ve coped with constant change professionally and personally for more than a year. Now that some feel their lives are becoming more predictable again, an exodus has started. In March 2021, the voluntary separation rate among private-sector employees hit 2.7%, matching a 20-year high. During the hiring process, recruiters will need to make sure candidates join their team for the right reasons.

A new YOLO mindset. The crisis experience of 2020 has caused many people to rethink their priorities. This You-Only-Live-Once (YOLO) mindset means job seekers will be more discerning about opportunities they’ll consider and want to be sure of their fit before they accept an offer

Effects of the “shecession.” Women left the workforce in huge numbers during the pandemic for reasons that included disproportionate job loss and the need to handle family responsibilities. Some were caring for young children when daycares closed or supervising school-age children taking classes at home via ZOOM, while others cared for elderly relatives stricken with COVID-19. Some dealt with all three. As a result, organizations will need to offer flexibility in work schedules and a virtual hiring process to bring this talent segment back into their employ.

A wave of early retirements. Many employees aged 55 and older took early retirement during COVID-19, leaving workforce gaps in organizations nationwide. Recruiters may lure some of this talent pool back with part-time positions and a virtual hiring process.

How recruiters can respond during economic rebuilding

To cope with voluntary turnover, a YOLO economy, and some of these other broad influences on the labor market, recruiters need strategies to increase applicant flow and efficiently identify and engage qualified individuals.

It’s essential to continue using pre-employment assessments. At times like these, recruiting teams may be tempted to take pre-hire assessments out of their workflow. However, the perceived benefit isn’t worth the risk: The talent pool won’t increase, but negative hiring outcomes will as the quality of hire nosedives and turnover goes up.

Instead, recruiters can work with their pre-hire assessment partner to adjust by

  • Lowering or temporarily removing cut scores on assessments to increase pass rates
  • Offering secondary “soft cuts” that require some authorization for areas with difficulty sourcing candidates

At the same time, recruiters can take steps to remedy low candidate flow:

  • Extend the expiration date of existing scores from applicants to make hiring decisions to decrease time-to-fill
  • Re-engage past applicants who passed assessments but otherwise were not moved forward
  • Add automation to hiring, such as automated interview scheduling, to reduce time-to-fill
  • Streamline the integration/application process, making it as user-friendly and intuitive as possible
  • Provide incentives to make the job more attractive, such as sign-on or retention bonuses

This is a challenging time for recruiting teams. The risks that come with being reactive and making short-term decisions are high. However, there are opportunities to make quality hires. You can learn more about steps for easing the pressure of the workforce shortage and what to expect with changing candidate behavior by reading our newest white paperWorkforce Shortage: How to Staff During a Pandemic Recovery.