Advice for Employers and Recruiters

How to hire students, recent grads, and others as the job market and rest of the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
April 21, 2021

Just finished listening to one of the most insightful and actionable webcasts that I’ve ever attended. An absolute must-listen for anyone in talent acquisition or related industries like recruitment marketing. Why? Because it did a superb job of advising talent acquisition, human resource, and others on the employer side of the desk how to hire college and university students, recent graduates, and others as the job market and rest of the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

My company, College Recruiter, is in the job board / marketplace industry. Our trade association is TAtech and its CEO is Peter Weddle and COO is Pete Weddle (father and son). TAtech today is hosting an all-day, live, video webcast (they’re calling it a podcast) with Matt Alder as the host. Sessions are bite-sized at about 30-minutes each and they’re separated by short breaks.

The session that caused me to furiously take notes to send to our employees featured Allyn Bailey, head of recruitment marketing for Intel Corporation, and Christian Forman, CEO of programmatic, job distributor, Appcast. They talked in detail about the massive and sudden inversion in the job market that we’ve been seeing. It was fascinating to hear that Appcast is also seeing it as they’re able to see it across far more jobs, employers, etc. than we at College Recruiter are able to.

In short, since mid-February, employers have been trying to massively scale up their hiring but job seekers are suddenly far more selective about whether to search, apply, or accept a new job. The reasons are many and the solutions are fascinating.

First, many job seekers are unable or unwilling to go back to work if that means working in-person at a retailer, restaurant, hotel, or even office because they have school-aged kids whose schools are opening, closing, going hybrid, and mostly just in flux. If you don’t know if your kids will physically be in a school Monday through Friday from 7:30am through 3pm week after week, month after month, then it just isn’t feasible for you to consider any work that isn’t able to be done from your home.

Second, only about half of U.S. adults have received their first vaccination against Covid. The percentage who are fully vaccinated is even smaller. The percentage whose entire families are fully vaccinated is even smaller. Parents who are fully vaccinated can still bring the virus home and they have no interest in getting their kids, parents, or others sick.

Third, monetary policy like stimulus payments and unemployment coverage is eliminating the desperation effect that many experienced in the past. If your income is enough to cover your expenses, it would be irrational to return to a job that paid poverty-level wages. Employers are paying $15 or even $20 an hour for entry-level, unskilled work so why would someone take, instead, a somewhat similar job paying $8, $12, or even $14 an hour? Employers who have long relied on the alternative to their paycheck being starvation are going to need to pay more or go without employees.

The webcast offered some solutions, none of which are easy and none of which, individually, will solve the issue for any employer. At a high level, employers need to radically reduce the friction that candidates experience during the hiring process. A lot of employers have, for years, mistakenly thought that making it easy for people to apply would lead to poor quality applications. “If they really want the job, they’ll put up with our process.” The reality has always been that such friction has also eliminated the best candidates as they’ve always had a choice and would naturally gravitate to employers with a more friendly application process. This reduced friction means more automation and more recruitment marketing but both of those are going to bump up against the massive increase in the number of privacy laws, many of which are inconsistent with each other. Collecting candidate data will become more and more difficult and, often, simply illegal.

Additionally, the C-suite needs to understand that filling job openings is already costing far more. You need to get more candidates into your pipeline and you need to expect that more will drop out. Recruitment marketing leaders will need to invest more and expect less as the power has, just in the past month or two, radically shifted from employer to job seeker.

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