It’s repetitive to say that the pandemic has turned our entire perspective of work on its head. Within the first five months of the pandemic, the number of jobs dropped faster than the 2001 and 2007 recessions within the first 3 years. Soon afterwards, companies began hiring for more jobs, anticipating that candidates would immediately take the first offer they received; however, hiring during COVID-19 changed drastically, and candidates started changing their priorities. This created an economy where there are a lot of available jobs, but candidates are more interested in flexibility and benefits.
The tech boom was rippling through the Bay Area, forcing employees to move as far as Fairfield or even Stockton. While salaries were high, housing prices were rising too. Employees living further from their place of work, or “super-commuters,” made a trade-off; an affordable housing for a significantly longer commute.
During the Great Recession, companies knew that candidates were desperately looking for any available job. As a solution, they made the pay wages higher, but made the interview process more extensive with little regard to the applicants who went through the process.
Now, during COVID…
When the pandemic went into effect in 2020, office spaces were quickly deserted and everyone started to adapt to remote work. In 2021, employees realized that they no longer wanted to live their lives around work and started looking for other flexible opportunities. Roles that required employees to return to the office were ignored, and the labor market became a candidate market. Here are a couple of trends that are rendering traditional hiring strategies obsolete:
- Candidates are becoming more selective about their job-hunting. They’re looking for companies who support employees first. This includes mental health benefits, paid family leave and work-from-home flexibility. Nowadays, candidates are prioritizing meaningful work and proximity to family. In response, companies have to sell an “employment value proposition;” a competitive salary and advancement opportunities.
- Candidates are taking advantage of virtual learning, or acquiring new skills outside of their work. While COVID-19 caused a surge in unemployment, workers are taking initiative to learn new skills outside of their regular day jobs. Because of this, the usual talent pools that recruiters are hiring from are diminishing.
Hiring has drastically changed since COVID-19 began. If companies hope to fill gaps in their organizations, they need to reassess their hiring strategies. Candidates are indeed looking for work, but they are not just looking for a big paycheck.