- June 9, 2021
- Posted by: Stratford Team
- Category: Markets
- Today, workers are more likely than ever to be looking for a different job.
- Employers are now more open to remote candidates, and with the economy opening up, more are hiring.
- The post-pandemic job market is going to be completely different from anything we’ve seen before.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The world is beginning to open up, and so is the job market.
Recent Microsoft surveys found that 40% of the global workforce is thinking about leaving their employer this year, and that 25% of people 45 years old or older are considering switching careers. A Prudential survey of 2,000 workers found that 26% are more likely to be looking for new roles as the threat of the pandemic subsides.
Some are thinking of leaving because they have reconsidered their values around family time or work-life balance, while others are “YOLO-ing” their careers by quitting stable full-time jobs to pursue new opportunities. Everywhere from fast food to law firms to investment banking, the landscape is shifting.
“The pandemic has absolutely reprioritized what’s important in a job for job seekers, and it’s forcing different decisions,” said Shawn Tubman, the vice president of talent acquisition at Liberty Mutual.
Prospective job seekers and recruiters need to get ready for this increasingly complex environment. Workers are about to be more able and willing to switch jobs. But they may have certain demands around flexibility, wages, and social responsibility. And companies may have more access to high-quality candidates because of remote and hybrid work.
This represents an opportunity, but also a risk for employers. If they don’t manage these next few months carefully, they could see themselves losing employees and having trouble filling openings.
Pandemic-driven caution gives way to curiosity
Before COVID-19, the job market appeared to be favoring workers, with unemployment under 4% in the early months of 2020. The pandemic completely turned that on its head and may have also worsened race and gender inequality as the unemployment rate soared over 14% in April 2020. The unemployment rate has since recovered to 5.8% in May.
The instability of the pandemic kept people who otherwise might have been looking to leave from making a move. Many people who might have switched jobs, the “passive candidates” whom recruiters are often looking for, were hesitant to make a switch. A LinkedIn survey from January 2021 found that 74% of respondents were staying in their current job to wait out this uncertain market.
But that period is over. The new normal is a 180-degree turn from the somewhat stagnant job market in 2020 and into 2021. Recruiters are going to be hiring under much different requirements from both employers and prospective employees, in one of the most competitive job markets in over a decade. It’s going to be a lot different from the postrecession job markets of the past.
Job postings are increasing on sites such as ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, and Indeed. Many sectors that were suffering, such as hospitality and travel, are poised to bounce back, and it seems the job market as a whole is recovering. People are “rage-quitting” their jobs and counting on being able to find new ones.
After a year of virtual recruiting, hiring freezes, furloughs, and job insecurity, recruiters are understandably feeling whiplash. “Everybody’s starting to get ready for what’s next,” said Kevin Parker, the CEO of HireVue, a video recruiting platform. “Even the airlines are staffing their call centers and the hotels are staffing reservation agents.”
Over the past year, employers have gained a stronger understanding of their role in supporting employees around wellness and schedule flexibility, and they’ve dramatically shifted opinions on remote work. They didn’t need to worry as much about retention over the past 14 months, but now their people are going to be looking.
How job seekers’ preferences are changing
Even before the pandemic, some workers preferred a strong work-life balance over a high salary. Now more of them are acting on that preference.
The pandemic altered workers’ aspirations and expectations. Multiple talent-acquisition leaders and practitioners told Insider that candidates are asking more about social responsibility and diversity, equity, and inclusion. They also said candidates are hoping for transparency and a recruiting process that’s easier to navigate.
Perhaps most notably, though, workers are looking for flexibility.
“We hear it in conversations. I hear it, and talking to other talent-acquisition leaders – that remote work is a specific area where workers are wanting more flexibility,” said Jennifer Shappley, the vice president of talent acquisition at LinkedIn. The company’s platform has seen a five-time increase in remote job listings over the past year, searches for remote jobs reached an all-time high, and a company representative shared that nearly a quarter of all applications are for remote jobs.
This increased flexibility is also benefiting employers. Many are now much more comfortable recruiting virtually, and it means they can look to new geographies for talent. Tubman shared that Liberty Mutual expanded its recruiting efforts from three to 15 states. Parker shared that HireVue expanded from its Salt Lake City location to recruiting from all over the country.
“You’re not setting up a separate legal entity. You just have an employee there and have to understand the state tax requirements,” Parker said. “It’s a pretty low threshold to cross.”
In addition to recruiting nationally, HireVue made a strategic decision to focus on North Carolina, specifically on Raleigh and Durham, with the goal of creating a cluster of employees, even if they aren’t tethered to an office. Parker said it was a way to expand the employee base, increase diversity, and create a community for HireVue in a region with well-educated talent.
“If you’re in a city with 10 other HireVue teammates, you’re going to get together,” Parker explained. “You’re going to have a social interaction, as opposed to a different individual in 50 states, so it helps with inclusion and helps with retention.”
Delivering a smarter, more user-friendly candidate experience
The landscape for recruiters is changing, too.
“Recruiters more than ever need to be nimble and well versed in the hot topics, not just the business lines, but really the corporate lines on our approaches to DEI and ESG,” Tubman said, referring to environmental, social, and corporate governance.
Many organizations are bringing more structure into their recruiting process, forced in part by a switch to fully virtual recruiting. Jon Stross, a cofounder of Greenhouse, an applicant-tracking software, said he’s seeing significant changes to how large organizations recruit. These changes – such as standardizing the process and tracking more data – allow companies to better evaluate individual recruiters and can also positively impact diversity.
By looking at which candidates advance through different stages of the recruiting process, employers can use the data to identify which stages are barriers for diverse candidates. WayUp is an example of a company that helps employers do this with early-career and entry-level workers.
Job candidates may also be evaluating a company’s recruiting processes more critically. Satisfaction with the process can lead to greater attachment to the job, and a respectful, refined process can go a long way. Stross advised candidates to rule out organizations that appeared to be going through the motions.
“If you go in and the interviewers ask you the same question over and over again, and it’s a waste of time, and they’re not prepared, they’re showing you who they are,” he said. “You should believe them because you’re gonna go to a lot of companies now where they’re actually taking it really seriously.”
Technology is also enabling candidates to participate in the recruiting process more easily. New tech can free up recruiters to spend more time building relationships with candidates, instead of scheduling and doing administrative work. And with so many candidates and openings coming as the market opens up, reducing friction is a key to success.
Tubman said candidates have greatly appreciated a more tech-enabled process that may include, for example, virtual or asynchronous interviews. “It puts people on an even playing field, so it’s created a more open environment when it comes to selection processes and managers thinking about candidates.”
The rising importance of talent strategy
If we are to believe the slew of press releases from last summer, it appears that every major employer is making a newfound commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If CEOs and boards are focused on creating more equitable company cultures, they should expect to be held accountable for them by employees and prospective employees.
This means DEI is increasingly becoming a C-suite priority. Talent-acquisition leaders can use this opportunity to advocate for new technologies and more recruiters to make their departments more effective. They should also consider restructuring recruiting teams, specializing them to increase their capabilities.
“As sales and marketing became more and more specialized, recruiting is seeing the same thing,” Stross said. “You have specialist roles that are more marketers than recruiters.”
Recruiting teams also need stronger relationships with their internal clients: business leaders and hiring managers. Hopefully, those clients are inclined to work more closely with recruiting, but it’s a relationship that can often be strained.
Stross said he’s seeing more involvement from heads of sales and heads of engineering, for example, as they’re understanding the level of involvement in hiring they need to have for their departments to be successful.
“There are more and more business leaders waking up to it – that recruiting is super critical,” Stross said. “That’s the actual barrier to a company making a behavior change: Them all realizing how they’re supposed to work together.”