On September 6, 2021, the United States government officially ended federal unemployment benefits. While some states opted to end the benefit sooner, the labor market has been in a state of flux since the cut-off. Workers have walked away from their jobs en masse leaving staffing and recruiting professionals little time to piece together effective strategies. We’ve reached a critical moment as we look to combat The Great Resignation. How did the labor market get to this breaking point? What can Talent professionals do to help? The end of unemployment benefits is a significant marker to study as we search for these answers.
Since September, PandoLogic has used its advanced proprietary data sets to track and highlight significant trends in the labor market. We aimed to study the relationship between employer behavior as well as the job seeker’s response in the weeks following the unemployment cut-off dates. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Stats and trends from June through September
- What these stats and trends mean
- What you can do to apply these trends to your hiring strategy in 2022
The State of Recruitment Post-Unemployment Benefits
In July of 2021, employers in states where the unemployment benefits were cut off early began anticipating a hiring boom. They increased their job listings to get in front of new job seekers re-entering the labor market. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate steadily dropped from 5.4% to 5.2% overall.
A proactive set of candidates also anticipating the cut-off began their job search two weeks early as well. Job seekers were steadily trickling into the labor market to shop around for a new job that could meet their needs.
As shown here, applicants per job increased when unemployment benefits ended, indicating an increase in active job seekers. This happened concurrently with a decrease in unemployment rates.
Below you’ll find clicks-per-job and applications-per-job trends for all states. You’ll see that clicks increased way before applications.
It’s clear that job seeker behavior is changing. According to the data, this behavior indicates one thing: people WANT to work, but they’re shopping around and holding out for more meaningful careers. In the weeks following the end of unemployment benefits, job seeker behavior indicated an increase in active job seekers. But seeing more clicks per job vs applications indicates that candidates are shopping around for their next job.
What Does This Mean?
While “job shopping” has increased, we’re also seeing workers walk out of jobs at alarming rates. Our take is that, ultimately, the want for work is there, but the need for an incentive is stronger. A return to our human missions is of top importance.
It’s not enough that a job has been made available. The job in question needs to meet the candidate’s hierarchy of needs. Can it provide comfortable living? Can it fulfill a professional goal? Do the pros outweigh any potential cons? And in this sustained state of a pandemic, safety is also a top concern. This is where understanding your target candidate comes into play for 2022. These sentiments won’t go away anytime soon. So, knowing what matters most to your candidate can allow you to shape a strategy to help you attract, and retain, qualified candidates.
What Can You Do To Improve Candidate Engagement?
To build an effective hiring plan, it’s important to start listening. To better understand candidate behavior PandoLogic teamed up with Tracey Parsons, architect of the recruitment marketing and employer brand movement and owner of Parsons Strategic Consulting. In our study, we learned that today’s job seeker values transparency and authenticity. It’s time that Talent professionals lead with these values. Cultivating a personalized recruiting experience should be top of mind.
Offer any notable benefits and wages upfront. Your job titles and descriptions hold a lot more weight than you think. A strong job title can often include information like salary, sign-on bonuses, flexibility (think remote or hybrid), shift times, etc. Use that space to your advantage by highlighting what’s most important to your workforce. Our study revealed a 13% increase in jobs with salary information shortly after the end of unemployment benefits. That led to a 52% increase in conversions.
“[This proves that] when we listen to what the audience wants and deliver, they will convert at a better rate. The action of adding this information will save your recruiters and your candidates time by getting the cash conversation out of the way early,” said Parsons.
Thankfully, there are recruitment software tools on the market that can allow you to A/B test your job ads to ensure you’re always resonating with your audience.
Another way to create a more personalized experience is by incorporating AI chatbots into your hiring process. Tools like Wade & Wendy can offer powerful and customizable chatting functionalities that will engage your candidates and make them feel valued and respected. This is crucial. A candidate that feels supported from application to interview to onboarding is more likely to stay long term.
To stay competitive today, Talent professionals everywhere need to cultivate a culture of retention vs. churn and burn. Benefits or not, today’s job seeker understands their power and will use it. They will seek employers that have their best interests in mind and leave the rest behind.