The labor market is going through an unprecedented experience due to the coronavirus pandemic that has been shaking the foundations of the global economy for the better part of a year. Millions of people have been laid off or furloughed. Many people have been rehired, but a sizable number of people are still looking for work. Some people are also just being laid off as programs to keep companies afloat dry up.
As employers, it’s important to understand these challenges and adapt as necessary. I’m fortunate to spend my day engaging with job seekers to find out their pain points when looking for work. I often hear how companies can improve their processes. I want to share some of those takeaways with you.
• Job seekers expect respect during hiring interactions
Human resources and recruiting professionals are undoubtedly overwhelmed by the crushing weight of job applications that pour in for each open position. One poll that I conducted on LinkedIn showed the vast majority of job seekers have been ghosted during the past six months. Ghosting means that the potential employer stopped responding to messages after an initial conversation or even several rounds of interviews.
Job seekers see that as unacceptable and disrespectful. While they don’t necessarily expect a response when they simply submit a job application, they do expect a follow-up — good or bad — after they’ve talked or interviewed with an employer. They are also not shy about talking about those experiences. Stories of ghosting can harm the reputation of companies as employers.
• Job seekers are not letting the pandemic hold them back
Job seekers do not expect to take a step back in their careers just because many economies around the globe are experiencing downturns. Quite the opposite, actually. LinkedIn data show that a sizable number of job seekers are looking to move up in their careers. Specifically, nearly 30% of job seekers in June and July applied for positions that would be considered a step-up from their previous positions. That proportion is actually an increase from January before the pandemic hit with its full force.
Similarly, job seekers have said they don’t expect to take a pay cut due to the pandemic. A poll I ran on LinkedIn found that of the more than 2,700 people who responded, 57% said they did not expect a pay cut. Roughly a quarter — 26% — of people said they did expect to see a drop in wages. The other 17% were unsure.
• Many companies see potential during a downturn
Some companies are seeing potential amid the pain of the pandemic. Specifically, layoffs and a large number of applicants provide them with the opportunity to bring on top talent from competitors. A similar strategy was employed by large companies — many based in Silicon Valley — during the Great Recession.
• Stigmas and expectations are and will change
The pandemic is reshaping almost every area of life, including the hiring process. Items that would once raise proverbial red flags for recruiters or hiring managers are becoming the norm. Employment gaps are becoming less of an issue, for example. As millions of people continue their job search with employment gaps that occupy the better part of a year, companies will find it difficult to hold it against them when they can do the job.
Job seekers are also expecting something different from their employers. Specifically, they know the world of work is changing and they’re expecting to see that reflected at their next employer. People are asking more and more about flexible work arrangements or full-time work-from-home plans, for example.
Companies that adapt to meet the needs of job seekers and employees will likely emerge from the pandemic with an army of talented professionals to propel their businesses forward.