Believe it or not, hiring is still difficult – even with high unemployment

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Employers are facing new and sometimes unexpected challenges when it comes to staffing their businesses as we move into the re-opening phase of the coronavirus pandemic.Many employers who are hiring might assume that the record-high unemployment rate means filling a position is easier than it was during the pre-pandemic, candidate-driven market. However, many of our business clients are telling us it’s still challenging to find the right individual for their open professional roles.

Based on the current reported unemployment rate of 13.3%, you might expect every open position to receive a flood of applicants. However, this is not always the case, especially with key professional roles that remain difficult to fill. The key reason for this is that while some industries have experienced record unemployment, others have not been as dramatically impacted – including professional services like finance and technology.

Unemployment Varies Widely by Industry

The most recent unemployment figures caused a mixture of hopefulness – and confusion. Though still at a record high, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the lowest unemployment rate since the coronavirus started spreading worldwide. The number of workers receiving benefits also fell slightly to 20.9 million, a sign that people are going back to work. However, BLS acknowledged an error in their reporting, so instead of the reported 13.3% unemployment rate, the true number was likely about 16.3% in May. Nonetheless, an addition of 2.5 million jobs provided evidence that labor market recovery is underway.1

Statista reports the leisure and hospitality industry had the highest unemployment rate in the United States, at 35.9%, while the financial activities industry experienced the lowest unemployment rate, at 5.7%. Unemployment rates by other industries include:

  • Leisure & Hospitality: 35.9%
  • Manufacturing: 11.6%
  • Professional & Business Services: 9%
  • Financial Activities 5.7%2

Further, Forbes reports the unemployment rate in technology is actually falling slightly, with a 2.5% unemployment rate in “computer operations” in May 2020, compared to 2.8% in April.3

A Good Professional is (Still) Hard to Find

Given this landscape, if you’re trying to hire someone in a professional role, it’s not necessarily going to be an easy road. This has become yet one more (perhaps unexpected) factor employers are facing amid the myriad complexities of hiring during the coronavirus era. While you’re trying to re-open workplaces, address employee concerns, plan for appropriate staffing, and – most critically – keeping your employees safe and healthy, it’s likely that recruiting for key open positions cannot be at the top of your priorities. Unfortunately, this also means you could miss out on a great hire.

A staffing firm is already connected with professionals in your area – quite simply, it’s their job to network and maintain relationships with the best candidates so that when a business client needs someone, they have resources at the ready. This includes candidates who are ready to start work immediately. Staffing firms know individuals who are actively looking for jobs, who might be open, who might be a good fit for your company culture, and even individuals from other industries who might have the right combination of skills you need. Most importantly, a good recruiter will listen carefully to your needs, and use that information to guide their search. Recruiters also handle the detailed work of sorting through resumes, screening candidates, and coordinating interviews. Letting a professional recruiter handle this aspect of your business frees you up to focus on other critical areas demanding your attention right now.

Passive Candidates

Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) reports that now may also be an ideal time to seek out passive candidates – those who are open to new career opportunities, but are not actively looking for a new job. “When unemployment rates were historically low, getting those people onboard was extremely challenging, requiring the perfect mix of money, benefits, and flexibility, etc., just to get a candidate to talk. But, with so much unsettling economic news and unemployment now reaching historic highs, conversations with such top talent picks are easier to initiate,” SIA notes.4

How do you locate passive candidates? A recruiter is a great resource as they are constantly networking with professionals in their field of specialty. This includes professionals who are currently employed and may be open to a career change that offers better long-term stability. Recruiters also have access to sophisticated search tools in career sites like LinkedIn, including systems that flag professionals who are open to new opportunities.

A Flood of Candidates?

What if you are experiencing the opposite problem and don’t have time to parse through all the resumes you’ve received for an open req? For some positions that require fewer specific skills and extensive experience, you may be getting more applicants than you’re used to, including some from outside your industry and with unrelated experience. Based on how urgent your needs are and the availability of candidates, you may even need to consider hiring outside your normal skill set and industry.

It’s likely that with the other pressing matters of running your business and re-opening, the last thing you have time to do is sort through applicants to give everyone a fair chance. This is where a professional recruiter or staffing firm can help. You can hire an individual or team dedicated to the task of filtering through applicants and effectively screening them, so that only the best matches get to your desk. This is the everyday business of recruiters, who have systems in place for review and screening, and can do the legwork for you.

Whether you’re finding it challenging to locate right candidates for your open roles, you’re looking for flexible staffing solutions for your workplace re-opening, or you are experiencing a flood of applicants, working with a trusted recruiting partner can expand your options and ease your workload.