As the Bank of England recently set out its yearly annual economic forecasts, its projection that unemployment would reach 7.5% by the end of 2020 casts a very different picture to the one we saw pre the global health crisis. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UK was experiencing the tightest labour market in a generation, with talent shortages in key skills across a range of industries, it was without doubt a candidate-led market. Fast-forward to today and candidates from all sectors are on the job hunt and employers are looking for the right fit.
The number of candidate applications have soared in past months. In the third week of March when the crisis was unfolding, we saw a 250% year-on-year increase in applications for roles in the Driving and Logistics sector. Across Q2, we witnessed a 58% increase in external applications across all engineering roles when compared with the previous quarter. For one client, where we had a large order for Administrative Officers with skills in customer service, decision-making, and empathy & compassion, we saw a record number of applications with over 40,000 candidates.
For employers, whilst a greater volume of candidates does grant access to wider availability of talent, it does also present challenges. First and foremost, evaluating the quality of all applications is an increasingly larger undertaking for hiring managers. The focus has shifted to how organisations are screening and matching the right candidates to the right roles.
As a business, we’re helping candidates apply for roles by enabling more self-selection. This focus means we’re being more explicit in our job postings, while also applying filter questions to assess skills demanded versus supplied and suitability for each role. Putting these safeguards in place will enable jobseekers to progress with roles to which they are most suited and leave employers with a more targeted group of relevant candidates with the greatest potential to stay and succeed. This will be a win-win scenario, the applicant has a greater chance of being called for interview from the early stages of the application process, and the employer avoids being inundated with applications that do not correspond to the advertised role.
As part of our guidance, we always encourage our clients to be clear and conscientious when communicating with candidates. As well as applicants self-selecting and taking the time to personalise an application, the employer should also take the time to explain the outcome of their application – successful or unsuccessful – this is an important measure not only for your employer brand but also to support candidates whether progressed through the hiring process or not. A negative candidate experience now is likely to deter these candidates from applying to your business in future, and potentially put them off from buying your products – so maintaining a positive experience is vital for employers.
Want to hear more insights on the latest issues impacting the world of work? Download the eleventh edition of our Human Age newspaper.