Post-COVID Hiring: Insights from our data

Published by:
Jade Allan
July 2, 2020
min read

The talent market just did a 180º flip... 

After years of job seekers (collectively) enjoying much of the power in the hiring game, the balance has shifted to employers.

It’s now an employer’s market.

This will only become more pronounced when government-backed schemes change and eventually comes to an end.

Looking at our own data, whilst the number of applications for roles hasn’t skyrocketed yet, we’re already noticing a drop in new roles posted, and the number of applicants submitting on the same day as a role being posted has jumped from 50% to 60%.

Key takeaway: Fewer roles are being advertised and there’s an increasing sense of urgency among job seekers.

So, what sort of impact is this going to have on both employers and those seeking employment?

First, I’ll quickly flag the 3 key players most affected by this paradigm shift:

  • Job seekers
  • HR/ Talent Acquisition Managers
  • Hiring Managers

Believe it or not, it is possible for all parties to not only pull through but end up in a better position than before.

What do we need to thrive in the post-COVID job market?

Player 1: The Job Seeker

Picking themselves up after an abrupt change of circumstances the reluctant job seeker is quickly realising that there are hundreds of others, just like them, going for the same roles *gulp*. 

With most application processes failing to give any feedback whatsoever to unsuccessful candidates, the ‘spray and pray’ approach does as much for building confidence as it does for optimising time.

The more applications ‘sprayed’, the less relevant to the role applied for they’ll probably be (at least in my own experience).

Needless to say, copy/pasting the same application en masse probably isn’t the best means of getting the job of your dreams, but as desperation increases, so does the volume of applications they send…

And so the vicious cycle continues.

Potential solution: The Job Seeker needs a smart way to identify the roles they have the best shot at getting.

*It’s not all doom and gloom for job seekers though - but we’ll get to that!

Player 2: The HR/Talent Acquisition Manager (The People Person)

Having spent the last few years optimising the hiring process for the power dynamics of yesterday, this player is realising the old rules no longer apply. 

There’s no benefit in trawling LinkedIn for potential candidates to ‘tap on the shoulder’ (let’s face it, that was probably not doing much for the diversity numbers anyway) as they’re already struggling to shortlist and give feedback to the influx of new applicants as it is.

If the previous process felt manual and unstructured with 30 applications per role, it won’t be surprising to see it implode with 300.

Potential solution: The People Person needs a way to screen a much larger number of applications in a demonstrably objective way and be sure the right people end up on the shortlist.

Player 3: The Hiring Manager

Right now, my best guess is that The Hiring Manager is coming to terms with the prospect of working with a smaller headcount than planned and with no capacity to waste time on an inefficient process. 

The repercussions of making a bad hire will weigh on the mind of this player most. They’re torn between wanting to be very involved in the shortlisting process but need to balance that with the fact they’ve got no extra time to devote to it in the here and now.

Potential solution: The Hiring Manager needs a hiring process they trust to identify amazing talent yet is extremely efficient with their time.

So, the common thread here - finding a way to quickly shift from quantity to quality.

This new status quo for each of the main players could be summarised like this: it’s vital to move from quantity to quality.

It’s important to state this here: quality is highly subjective. 

And rightfully so. 

There’s a big and important distinction between a great role and a great role *for you*. A great candidate and a great candidate for this mission and this set of goals.

An interesting trend - values and goal alignment now more sought-after

Because Applied employers shortlist candidates anonymously based on the skills and traits required to excel in the role, we can identify trends at the macro level. 

While we don’t know enough to assert why this change has taken place, we have seen a noticeable shift in employers looking to ascertain how motivated and passionate an individual is about the role in question over and above their technical competency.

So, why not assess mission fit, culture add, and goal alignment at the start fo the process?

Technical skills arent the be-all and end-all. 

We all know a ‘brilliant jerk’ and vowed never to knowingly hire one. 

The real question behind these questions is ‘Why?’ - why do you want to work here? What is it about *this* role/team/company/mission that gets you fired up? Tell us why you + us = a perfect match.

In Range (Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World), David Epstein leans on the economic concept of ‘match quality’ to define this. The degree to which what you are working on matches who you are.

Performance and growth go up as match quality increases and it seems that employers have been steadily realising the benefit of identifying this early in their screening processes. This is great news for job seekers looking to get the biggest return on their application time investments, too.

These ‘motivation’ questions tend to come in the middle to the end of a traditional hiring process. (Traditional = one that starts with a CV sift). 

The traditional hiring process wants to first make sure the jerk is brilliant, before confirming they are a jerk.

And therein lies the problem of applying yesterday’s theory to today’s practice. 

If technically competent candidates are now ten a penny, we need a much more efficient way of shortlisting. 

And this goes for both the roles we should apply for and the candidates we move forward. 

We all need to find match quality earlier if we want to optimise our selection process.

Bottom line: assessing motivation is key to success in ‘the new normal’

For candidates looking to improve their ‘hit rate’ of application to interview…

Talent Acquisition folks working to uphold a commitment to fair and objective shortlisting at scale…

And for time-poor hiring managers that can’t afford to sit through interviews with candidates who can’t quite remember applying for this role...

Everyone wins by finding a way to assess candidates on how motivated they are to join this particular mission, as well as testing technical skills.