By Steve Flook, President & CEO, iHire
It was hard to top 2018’s record year for U.S. job growth, but 2019 didn’t disappoint. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment rates fell to 3.5%, wages rose by 2.9%, and 7.3 million job openings remained in the fourth quarter of the year – relatively similar to the impressive numbers reported in 2018.
Even the volume of job ads promoted across iHire’s platform in 2019 – 33.2 million – confirmed a strong and steady labor market (just 5% lower than 2018’s totals). A deeper look into our job and job seeker databases also showed few year-over-year variances in the top hiring industries (Transportation, Nursing, Technology, Sales, and Retail held on to their top five spots from 2018), the most popular career titles, the most desired candidate skills, and more.
The lack of significant change hints that we’ll continue to see a candidate-driven job market in 2020 – a positive sign for job seekers, but a frustrating one for talent acquisition professionals. As we heard over and over again in 2019, employers struggled to attract qualified applicants (you’re probably nodding your head in agreement). The good news, however, is that the recruiting industry is ready to tackle the issue, not just talk about it. And, that begins with addressing the candidate experience.
I can’t predict the future, but I do expect 2020 to be the year employers truly focus on treating their candidates like customers – which, in turn, instills a positive sentiment about their employer brand at every step in the job seeker journey. Here are five ways the candidate experience will evolve in the new year.
1. Candidates won’t be rejected; they’ll be disqualified. When you have to narrow down candidates to one “winner,” odds are that you’ve discarded good talent. Instead of rejecting runners-up, employers will pipeline those applicants to fill future roles more easily. Whether that means keeping tabs on silver medalists in an ATS, staying in touch through personal email communications, or offering them freelance or consulting opportunities to keep them warm, maintaining these connections will streamline recruiting in 2020.
2. The application process will continue to shorten. As if the wait for hearing back from employers wasn’t already long enough (that is, if the applicant hasn’t fallen into the “black hole”), the length of time it takes to apply for a job adversely impacts the candidate experience. In fact, employers see a 50% to 75% drop-off rate when an application takes longer than five minutes to complete. By continuing to shorten the application process in 2020, employers will reduce job seeker frustration and provide a better overall candidate experience, enticing more “A-players” to enter their talent pools.
3. HR and marketing will form employer branding dream teams. Although marketing and HR have been working together in the enterprise realm for some time now, we’ll see small and mid-sized businesses reap the benefits of such partnerships in 2020. Specifically, these two departments will collaborate to integrate branding initiatives with recruiting. For example, HR will look for marketing’s help in ensuring job ads reflect their company’s workplace culture and brand voice.
4. Technology and humans will coexist in HR. Yes, job seekers still value interacting with a live human (case in point: 88% of respondents in a survey conducted by The Harris Poll said they’d be “uncomfortable” with an AI-powered job interview app being used during the candidate screening process). In 2020, employers will get smarter about balancing technology with people in their recruiting practices to avoid compromising the candidate experience. For example, companies will automate tasks at the top of the recruiting funnel (like confirming receipt of applications and keeping job seekers from falling into the applicant black hole) and bring in a real human for tasks in the middle and bottom of the funnel (like conducting interviews).
5. Employers will explore outplacement services. A positive candidate experience that supports a strong employer brand doesn’t stop after the applicant accepts your offer; the experience must carry over throughout the candidate-turned-employee’s tenure…and beyond. Therefore, I expect to see more employers investing in outplacement services in 2020 to help laid-off and separated exiting employees find work (this is also a great way to prepare for an economic downturn). Such services will allow organizations to reduce risk and protect their brands from any backlash from unhappy former employees.
Want to learn more about what to expect in the new year for talent acquisition and the candidate experience? Check out iHire’s 2nd Annual U.S. Job Industry Recap & Outlook Report: 2019–2020, available for download: https://go.ihire.com/5rft