By Hari Viswanathan
Recently, US unemployment hit a new milestone: over 40 million people out of jobs, representing about 26% of the workforce in April.
For a company that is hiring at this time, this may seem like a dream: All the candidates you want! You get your pick of the bunch!
If your company is lucky enough to still be hiring, the truth is that you’re going to be dealing with even more challenges than ever. Here are some reasons why:
More applications doesn’t mean more choice.
As an employer hiring for hands-on talent, you need to find the right candidates to help grow your manufacturing business. At the same time, you need to find folks who are skilled, coachable, good team players, and who can physically handle the daily work that needs to be done. Too often these attributes are challenging to filter through — and it's especially hard when you have a mountain of applications to sift through.
Worse still, your HR team may get fatigued after reviewing hundreds of resumes and miss out on quality candidates!
In a regular (non-COVID) economy, any online job posting would typically get anywhere from 100–200 applicants. In this pandemic recession, with over 36 million unemployed people, you might get 2X or even 3X that number of applications! Reviewing this volume of applications can be incredibly taxing on your HR team.
Candidates may not feel comfortable going on-site.
COVID-19 has had immense effects on society, the economy, and the general feeling of safety in public. With shelter-in-place orders still in effect in many states, some job seekers (and employers) may be feeling anxious about going out in public and may not even feel safe being interviewed on-site in the workplace. This, in effect, cuts down on your pool of applicants. In addition, with most out-of-work candidates still receiving unemployment benefits, there may be less urgency to risk going outside and interviewing on-site.
Candidates may not trust virtual or video interviews without an on-site interview. One constant refrain we’ve heard is that candidates are wary of jobs that make final offers without an on-site interview. This is both because of the proliferation of work-from-home scams (where candidates supposedly get job offers where they can perform various tasks at home but are instead asked to pay upfront), as well as candidates wanting to get a sense of the work environment, commute times, and physical aspects of the job before signing on.
This can be a problem, especially as your HR team is trying to backfill, expand, or interview candidates without exposing anyone to a potential outbreak.
Employers may not be able to judge a candidate’s hands-on skills without an on-site interview. At many companies, the typical hiring process involves at least one in-person meeting before a final offer is made. Most hiring managers would prefer to give a tour of the manufacturing floor, ask the candidate to demonstrate role-specific skills (if required), or get their feedback on the work environment. This can be harder, if not impossible, to do if an on-site interview isn’t feasible.
These factors are just a few of the issues that employers need to keep in mind as they start to reopen and think through their hiring process and needs. In the next article of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the potential solutions HR teams can use to effectively hire during a pandemic recession.