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Blog Commentary Economics Hiring Jobseekers Recruiting Industry

Many Americans Earning More on Unemployment Than In Their Jobs

It appears that nearly 70% of Americans on unemployment are earning more than they did in their pre-laid-off jobs. Some as much as 150% more. What does this mean for recruiting and the economic recovery?

Making recruiting entry-level workers even harder than it has been in the past, many people are finding their unemployment benefits outstripping the amounts of money they would have earned had they not been let go.

This graphic, from the venerable 538, shows the distribution of benefits as a function of replacing the worker’s income, state by state in the United States.

They cite a report from University of Chicago economists which “estimate that 68 percent of unemployed workers who can receive benefits are eligible for payments that are greater than their lost earnings.”

What does this mean for Workers?

I believe there are three factors at play here which can be good and bad for things in the short run, but will end up as major factors in the long term.

The winners in these struggles remain to be seen, but history has a few lessons of its own to share:

  • We’re in a once-in-a-lifetime reset of the economy
  • These debts will come due sooner or later (and probably both)
  • Recruiting & Retention will continue to be challenging in new ways.

Once-A-Century Economic Output Shift

First, I believe we are at the tip of a once-a-century shift in massive economic change. In fifty or seventy years, b-school textbooks will talk about the 2010’s like the last few years before refrigerators took over the ice box business in 1930s America. Those lectures will undoubtedly relate similar harbingers in our time of how none of the significant and profitable ice-trade businesses which boomed in the late 1800s ever made it as a significant player in any sense past 1950.

What does this mean for us? Booming industries that were safe havens for workers and owners alike just months ago may be gone in the next 5-10 years and, except perhaps for

Someone Has To Pay The Bill

The massive, crippling consumer debt problem is going to continue to cause issues in unexpected ways in the next few years.

Smart individuals will work hard right now to find ways to pay off debt and remove unneeded expenses. These short-term benefits in unemployment are intended to be a bridge over troubled waters, not a platform to build on. Mind you, the gravy train will come to the end of the line. Will you be clinging to the freight car when that happens hoping to eek out one more spoonful of gruel, or will you have taken your fair share and moved on to better things leveraging the economic boost for what it was intended for — to keep you from selling plasma to pay your rent — and instead contributing meaningfully to this new post-COVID-world of ours.

End of the day, someone has to pay these bills. Of course, those payments have to come from the backs (and pockets) of taxpayers. If the economic times turn around quickly as some hope, we may see a way to narrowly escape truly challenging times. However, even as it’s predicted these job losses will be felt far into 2021 and beyond, it stands to reason that, like grabbing the store credit card on your way out so you can save 10% on those jeans, as convenient as this all is, the whole world will be economically paying this down for a long, long time.

Recruiting & Retention is going to be harder for entry-level roles

Companies who value their entry-level workers will need to find ways, monetarily or otherwise, to compensate these workers and intent them to work rather than stay home, collect unemployment and “look for work” while golfing, watching NASCAR, etc.

Furthermore, I predict retention will be a killer subject not to far from now, as companies eek out some life, and things seem to have some semblance of settling down, I believe that people who were lucky enough to survive the unemployment cuts in the first place will pack their bags in droves as they realize, with some disdain, that all those glittery perks at their former companies was not, in fact, gold at all when it came down to what really matters to them in their lives.

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Jobseekers Working with Recruiters

How to Stay Connected With Recruiters

Staying connected with recruiters during your job search is an important, but often overlooked part of a successful search.

Unfortunately, many candidates make at least these two mistakes in job searching, especially the more panicked they are that they are not going to get a job or they might not find one. 

Mistaken Candidate Behaviors with Recruiters

  • “Spray and Pray” by just applied to as many possible jobs that seem well-paying that you can.
  • “Play the Field” approach by telling every recruiter that their job is the most-interesting job they are considering.
  • “Hard to Get” by acting busier than you actually are so recruiters have to work to get ahold of you. 
  • Ghosting. Yeah. 

A Mindset Shift

But may I submit that these behaviors are rooted in a scarcity mentality. The reality is that recruiters are trying to help you fill their jobs much more than, somehow, mercilessly denying candidates from perfect roles with maniacal laughter.

“HELP ME, HELP YOU!”

Just help your recruiters! They are trying to help you!

Here are three ways you can immediately get more value out of your relationship with your recruiter and, mercifully, make your transactions more human, too. 

  1. Be straightforward and open about your roadblocks, challenges or concerns about the job.
  2. Have transparent and ongoing dialogue with your recruiter about the timing of other opportunities and your likelyhood of taking one of them
  3. Be realistic and upfront about compensation, relocation or visa requirements and any other non-standard requirements you might have.

Be Open With Questions or Concerns

I can’t stress this enough that  leading your recruiter on about their job, telling them everything is fine and not bringing up concerns or questions is a bad way to go. 

The recruiter’s literal JOB is to resolve concerns and challenges and they can be the best resource for you to get things that others will not know how to get for you.  The recruiter is almost-always one of the most candidate-focused people at a company, and knows way more about benefits, features, perks and compensation than nearly anyone else in the company.

Leverage your recruiter’s relationship by first being real with them, sharing your own concerns and then asking questions when you have them.  Help them help you. 

Ongoing Dialogue about Other Interviews

If you are a skilled candidate, you are interviewing at multiple places. Pretending you’re not,  beside being a lie, is a foolish and needless burden you need to carry.  

You’re probably already feeling a little self-conscious about your employer finding out you’re looking (something for another discussion), but many candidates pile on the anxiety by also hiding the fact that you can’t interview tomorrow because you’re actually across the country at a flyout interview today and won’t be back until mid-day tomorrow. 

Nothing blacklists you faster as a candidate than pretending you’re not interviewing anywhere else only to have a “sudden” offer come “out of nowhere” and it happens to be “with [your] dream company” and also an “offer [you] cannot refuse.” 

Queue the excessive eye rolls. If you pull this move, your recruiter will say nice things to you and wish you luck while marking your candidate profile as “NEVER HIRE” and tagging you with “liesthroughtheir_teeth” in the company applicant system. That database will live longer than you. Don’t mess.

Being open with your recruiter about other roles and how soon you might get another offer is both polite and the right thing to do. Help them help you. 

Talk About Comp and Any Non-Standard Needs

Finally, you should bring up any non-standard needs you have early in the process.  The earlier the better, in fact. 

On that note, while you should likely not be the first person to bring up compensation (topic for another time*) in the interview process, you SHOULD bring it up first if you often find out that your expectations are often much higher than what companies are initially expecting. You do NOT want to get into the process and find out they want to pay you 1/3 your value. Full stop. 

Outside of this, if you have visa concerns, questions about relocation expenses, other perks or benefits, or you are expecting a leave of one kind or another, bring things up early — as quickly as you can in the process. Your recruiter is your sounding board here.  They may tuck things away, or tell you “yes, we do that all the time.” But you do NOT want to get a juicy offer in your hands only to find out they won’t pay relocation or that there’s no commissions draw, or whatever.

Help them help you by being clear about your needs and expectations up front. 

Summary

Summary, your recruiter’s JOB is to connect you to the right role in the company.  This is their passion.  Other than that one burger place, filling a role with the right person is their very favorite thing! Sharing your timing, roadblocks, concerns and needs early and often will help them help you land that perfect job, on time, with the right pay (or more)! 

So, help your recruiters help you. 

That’s what they call, “win, win.”

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Note: On compensation, while you should generally not bring it up first, you should enter every conversation, even the first, with an expectation they will ask you. Think of the batteries—your answer needs to be *ever ready!  ?

Categories
Hiring Process Improvement

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

4 Smart Ways to Improve Recruitment Candidate Experience during COVID-19

If you’re a little tired of hearing about these “unprecedented times” here’s perhaps something you can do about that if you’re on the “front lines” of a team lucky enough to be hiring and dealing with an inbound flood of applicants.

tl;dr: Skip to the Goods!

Recognizing that, as of this writing, thirty million people in the United States have claimed unemployment and are actively seeking work and that many hiring teams who are lucky enough to still be hiring may also have been impacted negatively in terms of having less help on the team and less tools or resources.

Hiring Teams Have Been Impacted, Too

In this environment of less help, less tools and way more applicants, recruiting and TA teams are faced with a very real problem: How to help everyone when you know you can’t hire them all and that many of them will not be qualified anyway. 

The urge to want to not miss all these people is real, and good and human. There are steps you can take to both help them how you can and not lose sleep or sanity doing so. 

Crank Up the Transparency

Improving the candidate experience during a time of massive inbound candidate flow will require some teams to begin taking a deeper look at how they are actually working, being more honest and open with candidates than they have before and starts with Recruiting and TA getting a better process in place to begin with. 

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the one that was seeking a new role.  Add on an extra measure of desperation, a little paranoia that all the good jobs are going to be gone, and that job application processes are so unique sometimes that the candidate’s stop reading and just start, well, button mashing until they get the next application in. 

An opportunity to breathe a little and help your candidates do the same will go a long way to improving the job search process a little more human for everyone involved. ❤


Four Ways you can Immediately Improve Candidate Experience

Four ways your recruiting team can manage your candidate experience during COVID-19 times include: 

  1. Better job advertisements
  2. Stated, public SLA updated for COVID-19
  3. Better, more human approach to rejection
  4. Stop lying

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

I’ll give some high level explanations below and deep dive into each of these in the coming days. 


First: Better job advertisements.  

Job advertisements today are lame.  

Rewrite them so it is absolutely crystal clear what you are looking for, how you will measure what you are looking for, and what you are not looking for. 

A powerful and moving way to do this is video.  Grab a phone or record a zoom meeting of the hiring manager, team leader or someone doing the role explain some of the key things that are needed and what the business problems are that you are wanting to solve.  

Humans communicate so much more through nonverbal cues. Your video will do wonders for your communication of what the role really is.  

Want to level this up? Some B-roll of how your hiring team works to vet candidates and what the interview process will be like would be a great addition.  Tie it all off with that clip from your SLA (see below) of your CEO noting how hiring is important to them and inviting candidates to reach out directly if they experience problems with the process,.  Please do NOT say “I am the CEO and I approve this message”, but you kindof get the point. 

But really, getting something out there is better than nothing. 

Pro-Tip: Add these two caveats to your job postings to boost applications from a more-diverse background and help people NOT apply but still stay connected with you if they feel this job isn’t right:

  • Encourage people to apply if they are on the bubble and might second-guess their qualifications. 

    Something like “We are interested in people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We can’t guarantee a job to everyone, but if you don’t have every one of these skills, but you’re close and can knock our socks off in at least 2 or 3 of them, then let’s talk. Please.“ And give them a way to actually reach you.  THis will increase engagement as well as a proven way to improve responses from a more diverse candidate pool. 
  • To encourage people to stay connected with you even if this role isn’t quite right yet.  

    Giving candidates some other way to connect with you, perhaps a way to get into your applicant pool that does not involve them applying to a role that they know they’re not qualified for, but one that still gets them to be affiliated with your company and get access to insider tips, jobs or information. 

Have a Public COVID SLA.  Have your CEO introduce it. 

I think it would be a good idea to publish how you will communicate and how often you will communicate with candidates during the COVID crisis.  This should cover specific milestones with deadlines. Perhaps you commit to get to every applicant within 2 weeks from their apply date with either a go/no-go response.  You tell them how you are working through vetting each profile. Don’t overpromise, but follow up on time, every time.

 Post that online publicly.  Link to that in your job postings and have your automated email that goes out when someone applies mention it.  

Even better, have your CEO or head of talent record a video talking about what you will do.  Tell us about the challenges your team is facing as well, but that you are committed to getting people to work and doing this right.  Ask for a little patience as you figure it out, and give candidates as much control over the process as you can. 

Better than that, at the end of the video invite applicants to email you if something goes awry and promise to help make it right without judgement.

Give yourself a way out, too

Finally on this, give yourself a way out, too.  If setting a two-week deadline means 13 days in three hundred people get blind “sorry” emails, that doesn’t work either.  A better way may be to automatically email each candidate who is being considered, even tangentially, with a “we’re taking a look at your profile, but it’s taking longer than expected.”  note.  Perhaps the ones who still have not been touched after a week perhaps get a “Yikes, this is taking longer than we thought” message with an updated timeline and an email at least weekly until their application has been vetted. 

Pro-Tip: Give candidates a way to respond to these updates — to a human.  If something has changed in the candidate’s search, they got a job or want to withdraw their candidacy for some reason, let them. Help them help you. Be real that you may have missed the best candidate you could have ever hired here.  You should loop in any self-withdrawals to your NPS scoring system or some other feedback loop, but that’s for a different day. 


Reject better.  

Here’s how I recommend you do this: In your SLA, you discuss your posture for rejections.  Then, tell the candidate how you do rejections when you talk to them.  Finally, follow your process each time. 

Since you’re moving at scale, something I have done that works is to tell candidates I will do this first, but then I send an immediate, lightly detailed rejection message to the candidate as soon as I know. I told them I would, so I do.  Then, crucially, I invite them to setup a time with me to discuss detailed feedback if they like, with a link to my calendar-scheduling tool. 

Some old-school HR and Legal types will freak out mildly here because I did say that I will gasp give real feedback to the candidate if they ask for it and setup a time. This is something some candidates yearn for and deserve.  This is a small gesture, but people deserve this.  This part should not be automated. 

Pro-Tip: Not every candidate will ask for feedback. This is why the two-step approach helps you move quickly at scale, but it is important that you describe this process up-front. 


For the Love, Stop Lying to Candidates.

One terrible but common behavior in recruiting is we get to be masters at putting someone on “the back burner” or putting them on hold when we know they are not going to make the job.  

Be more honest with candidates.  Tell them “I am sorry to say that you scored about average in our test.  That means you’re not out, but you’re not really “in” at the moment until we do a few other reviews.  I know this is an awkward place to be, but I would want to know if it were me, so I am letting you know as well.”  

This goes over better than you think it will.  Give the candidate a chance to walk away. They will thank you for it. 

Summary

Here are four ways you can improve your inbound candidate flow, treat people the way they would want to be treated and help yourself as well. 

I think companies who find ways to do a better job of connecting with applicants and finding how to really and truly express what they want from an applicant and being bold in that will find their applicant pools are actually way more interesting. 

Let me know what you think!


Photo by Headway on Unsplash