If you’re an HR professional in an organization that’s responding to COVID-19, you already know how challenging it is to hire right now. It’s likely that you were already facing the challenge of record unemployment rates before COVID-19 struck. In recent times, the number of unfilled jobs in those sectors has only increased, and the competition for critical skills is steep. 

Millions of jobseekers aren’t qualified for in-demand roles

With only select industries and organizations hiring during the pandemic, the skills, background, and experience of the unemployed don’t necessarily match the needs of today’s job market. The race for talent is intense, with understaffed organizations recruiting for many of the same roles and small employers going up against multinational corporations. In certain professions, companies are being forced to recruit retirees and students to rapidly fill critical positions, with some ramping up their search to include a wider geographical area.  

Even before the pandemic struck, the click-to-apply rate had already fallen by 25% since 2016, according to Jobvite’s 2019 Recruiting Benchmarks. To make things more challenging, companies were facing a shrinking candidate pool, with 44% fewer applicants per open job req on average, a situation that has likely worsened since the outbreak.  

As employers across North America seek new and innovative ways in a changing landscape, the big question is – what sets recruiters apart when it comes to securing competitive applicants? Is it the possibility of generous compensation, great employee perks, on-the-job training, or opportunities to advance? Or does it come down to something simpler: the candidate’s first interaction with you? 

For companies looking to improve hiring and retention, getting candidates to submit a completed application is the first and most crucial step. That starts with understanding applicant behavior and expectations. 

Let’s take a look at applicant behaviour that is shaping the way companies recruit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

1. Applicants are looking for job security during an uncertain time

Because we’re experiencing a time of overall job insecurity, layoffs, and volatility in the market, job seekers are going to be more risk-averse now and in the near future. Giving them opportunities in the apply flow to learn about your employer brand, business goals, and future trajectory is crucial to converting applicants.

2. Most applicants are entering through the side door

For companies that are lagging in applications, their biggest blind spot might be right under their nose. Take recent customer data gathered by InFlight for the month of June 2019, for instance. For one company, candidates were coming from no less than ten separate sources. LinkedIn and Indeed drove 65 percent of applications, while only 15 percent came from the company’s career site.

3. They’re not actively looking for a new job

 If the majority of applicants are risk averse or entering through the side door, you’re probably wondering who these candidates are – what are they looking for and what gets their attention? Most likely, they are passive job seekers, but they might be having the kind of day that prompts them to head to a job board for a break.

4. They demand a seamless process 

Candidates are becoming more digitally savvy and have little patience for lack of integration, friction-filled processes, or poor navigation. In fact, according to a recent study by SHRM, candidates are 365% more likely to abandon an application that takes more than 15 minutes to complete. 

Key takeaways

The companies that are best positioned to attract and hire top talent rapidly are the ones that already have smart, efficient, candidate-focused processes in place. For those that are falling behind when it comes to the applicant experience, it’s not too late to enter the race. If we’ve learned anything during Covid-19 and how it’s impacting recruitment, it’s that the process hasn’t gotten any easier and that candidates still expect high-end candidate experiences.

What’s next? Getting candidates into your apply flow.

One of the biggest challenges is attracting candidates to your organization and getting them into your apply flow. So, where do you start? It pays to understand applicant behaviour and their needs, pain points, and opportunities that exist along the way. Consider where there is room for improvement in your apply flow to help you provide the most positive and seamless experience.

You can learn more about this in the next blog of this series: What Creates Friction in the Applicant Experience?

Or if you want to read the full e-book now, you can jump right into it. It’s free to download and there is no sign-up required. Happy reading!

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