It’s evident that job seeker behavior has changed dramatically over the last few years. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for some of this change, some factors were in play prior. For example, Millennial and Gen Z workers prioritize work-life balance higher than their predecessors; these younger workers have also adopted different standards to evaluate organizations they want to work for.
Current Labor Market
Corporate responsibility and social responsibility have become determining criteria for job seekers, with 76% looking at how organizations handle diversity issues and 80% maintaining inclusion efforts are important to them when choosing a company to work for. Employer provisions for child care have become increasingly important to workers since the 1980s, and this trend has continued as regards younger people with families in the workforce. Older workers and Baby Boomers with elderly parents tend to prioritize healthcare and elder care options.
All of these factors led to increased competition among employers to court talent—and then the pandemic came into play. While it is true that the pandemic's psychological and emotional stressors had an effect on candidates’ and workers’ decision-making processes, practical issues around seeking and maintaining employment were also affected.
The pandemic gave rise to the Great Resignation, but a major shift in the paradigm is the adoption of remote work. Although the unemployment rate might be close to what it was at the beginning of the pandemic, where people work has changed dramatically.
With remote work having proved itself feasible, companies that had been hesitant in this regard now saw it as viable. More importantly, in this discussion, workers became accustomed to the convenience and autonomy of remote work. As such, job seekers prioritized this option to a high degree when looking for work. People are seeking remote roles, and even though the private sector has recovered 96% of all jobs lost, the public sector has only regained 58%. This showcases that people are seeking to move out of in-person roles to find remote opportunities.
Based on a recent GlobeNewsWire survey, the demand for temporary workers in the US was expected to increase 7.0% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the 2022 first quarter compared to Q1 2021. In February of this year, LinkedIn reported that remote work accounted for less than 20% of total job postings—but resulted in over 50% of total applies to all job types combined.
Overall Job Postings, Views, Applies, & Conversion Rates
How have all of the above factors impacted the recruitment process? Companies are seeing an increase in conversion rates and applications, and employers are paying much more than they were a few years ago.
According to Recruitics’ State of the Industry: 2022 Staffing Trends Report, overall job postings increased 29% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, illustrating that as more companies need qualified talent, more jobs are opening. Overall views of job postings increased 23% during the same period due to more employers investing in recruitment marketing and refining their employee value proposition (EVP).
While views don’t necessarily equal applies, the overall application rate increased 114% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, evidencing a positive reaction to the heightened efforts of employers to engage applicants. Finally, conversion rates have also increased, with a 72% increase from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022.
Based on data from the Staffing Trends Report, the somewhat slower climb in conversion rates can be explained by the fact that job seekers have become more serious about the process. In other words, a year ago, many who had left jobs and searched for new ones were still very tentative, given the ever-changing pandemic restrictions and uncertainty of how employers reacted to the emerging “new normal.”
Thus, many job seekers were “kicking the tires” previously regarding prospective employers, so to speak, as opposed to being ready to go back to work right away. Companies investing more in recruitment marketing and their EVP due to competition have also helped drive conversion rates. With COVID becoming ubiquitous and more people vaccinated/boosted, job seekers aren’t on “high alert” as they were a year or more ago; consequently, more are ready to return to work at this juncture.
Applies Per Available Jobs
According to the 2022 Staffing Trends Report, the number of applies per job increased by more than 100%, with a substantial lift in conversion rates representing nearly 75% of the increase. As mentioned earlier, the number of applies per job increased by 114%.
According to Recruitics’ Chief Strategy Officer Mona Tawakali, “[T]he increase in conversion rates and applications is threefold. Companies are loosening up in-office requirements to either hybrid or fully remote (where possible). Vaccination rates and availability for elder and child care have all risen, making people more comfortable (and able) to return to the workforce.”
Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
This brings the discussion to what experts maintain is always the job seeker’s key motivator: the employee value proposition. Regardless of the intensity of competition at any given time, every employer must be prepared to answer the question: Why should you work for us? How definitively employers answer this question determines application and conversion rates. All of the methodologies an employer uses should be taken up to craft and communicate the EVP as effectively as possible.
How an EVP is communicated will vary based on things like the industry in which the employer is engaged, the demographics of candidates targeted and the media being used to transmit messages. As reported earlier this year, tailoring the employer brand strategy to reach targeted talent involves just the sort of refinement employers need to get their messages across to the right audiences and to reach them where they are. This can involve discrete campaigns on social media platforms that differentiate between demographics, since the audiences’ values, goals, and modes of communications differ across these platforms.
Getting the EVP across essentially means appealing to what job seekers are looking for. In addition, they want to feel valued more than in the past, and many begin this evaluation during the interview/hiring process. Addressing things like corporate responsibility, values and work-life balance at the outset are precisely the things that make job seekers feel like an organization might be a good fit for them.
How does poor EVP affect employer outcomes? Well, it puts the employer at a distinct disadvantage - since many competitors are most certainly paying attention and addressing the fact that the EVP has become more important than ever. A poor EVP doesn’t come about by accident; usually, it comes about due to a lack of effort or misplaced efforts on the employer's part.
Working With Staffing Firms
Given the current low unemployment rate and staffing demand, many employers have more actively engaged staffing as partners to meet their needs. Between Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, an 8% spike in unique job opportunities managed by staffing firms has been reported.
How can staffing firms more effectively serve employers considering trends in job seeker behavior and the explosion in remote work? These are several areas in which staffing firms can do more than provide people. Many employers “don’t know what they don’t know” to their detriment—and that’s where a staffing company can act to educate employers and help fill the knowledge gaps.
Today, one of the most important and potent messages a staffing company can impress upon an employer is that companies should consider offering remote work wherever feasible to remain competitive. Employers must realize that this has become a market demand; as such, one has to do what the market is asking one to do, or the market will go elsewhere. Many employers have yet to make this discernment, and a staffing company can help get this message across.
For employers still reluctant to offer remote work, some methods can be used to assuage that reluctance, to help employers contextualize the imperatives, as well as look at how remote work has served their competitors. An analysis of the employer’s thought process and current productivity can also help bring an employer to the table. Most importantly, a staffing company can impress upon an employer how offering remote work can help to differentiate them from employers who remain reluctant to do so, thereby increasing their conversions.
Post-pandemic dynamics are showcasing many shifts in the hiring landscape, and many job seekers are prioritizing the ability to work remotely when seeking an opportunity at a company.
If your company is looking to better understand candidate behavior and how to update your recruitment strategy to combat the current hiring landscape, reach out to Recruitics today!