Jobseeker and Hiring Trends in the COVID Era

COVID-19 Management Recruiting Talent

We went from record-low unemployment numbers to record-high unemployment numbers in a matter of weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to this drastic change in the employment landscape, talent acquisition professionals should stay up to date on the latest trends in order to understand the “modern” jobseeker.


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In early May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its April jobs report, and according to the BLS, total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%. Last week, the BLS released its May jobs report, and there was a slight improvement in this area.

According to the BLS, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2.5 million in May, and the unemployment rate declined to 13.3%. However, upon a deeper dive into the data, the BLS acknowledges that there was a misclassification error that could cause the unemployment rate to actually increase not decrease—meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3% for May.

As businesses begin to reopen and employers start to bring back furloughed or laid-off workers it should come as no surprise that these numbers are starting to improve. Here are some additional trends to keep in mind when recruiting talent back into your organization.

Job Search Trends

Throughout the month of May, career portal uncovered key trends its platform saw from jobseekers; these findings are highlighted below:

Throughout the week of May 4 through May 10, Monster’s website saw both businesses and employees were ready to go back to work.

  • There was an uptick in demand for technical and business operations roles, with software developers, network, and computer systems administrators ranking alongside business operations specialists, financial managers, and management analysis in the top jobs posted to Monster. Monster speculates that this shift could be a sign that more businesses were preparing for the next stages of reopening the economy—something that came to fruition for some states at the end of May and early June.
  • Some highly skilled gig and remote jobs are seeing an increase in searches, with “graphic designer” and “UI developer” growing in search frequency during this time frame. Similarly, Monster saw a rise in searches for summer jobs and internships—a continued indication that the class of 2020 is in the jobs market.

Throughout the week of May 11 through May 17, Monster found that the reopening economy continued to influence candidates’ job search.

  • With the majority of the country reopening, the retail industry saw a spike in job searches—its highest level in the past 8 weeks—and part-time jobs saw a large week-over-week spike.
  • Business continuity was also leading to new jobs. Indicating a persistent effort to edge toward the new normal, business and financial operations, which include a wide variety of occupations like insurance appraisers, budget analysts, management analysts, accountants and auditors, and logisticians, continues to be one of the industries with the most new jobs on Monster. Specifically, business operations specialists and market research analysts ranked high among new job postings.
  • “Work from home” increased the most of any keyword and is once again the top searched keyword—in line with candidate sentiment of cautiousness regarding returning to work outside the home.
  • Food service searches are picking up, with increases in bartender, dishwasher, restaurant, food partner, line cook, food services, chef, executive chef, and sous chef. These searches align with states’ reopening announcements, resulting in restaurants’ beginning to open in some parts of the country.

Additional Data

While unemployment may be at an all-time high, there are still certain industries that are hiring workers. These industries have been deemed “essential,” and much like Monster’s research, these same industries have had an increased demand for hiring top talent. According to DailyPay, a platform that allows workers to access their paychecks before payday, throughout May, there was double-digit growth in the number of workers hired in certain industries.

During the 3-week period from May 11 to May 31, hiring increased in the hospitality (+15%), healthcare (+19%), quick-service restaurant (QSR) (+20%), supermarket (+23%), and caregiver industries (+24%). Additionally, DailyPay reports a 15% increase in the hiring of consumer services professionals, as well.

“The need to rehire brings forth a new set of challenges,” says Alexey Nefedov for DailyPay. “Companies are faced with ensuring that employee safety, trust and restaffing are accomplished in smart and economical ways.”

Health and safety have been on the top of everyone’s mind since the pandemic hit, and as businesses continue to open back up, these two areas will dominate the new way of working.

The New Normal

The Monster data identified what the “new normal” is for jobseekers and employers alike based on the findings it uncovered throughout the month of May.

For jobseekers:

  • Not surprisingly, the majority of jobseekers (72%) will be hesitant to return to the office, even when allowed.
  • Nearly half of jobseekers (45.5%) will adjust to working from home (WFH) more frequently than before COVID-19, with 42% even exploring a permanent WFH situation.
  • Though offices may reopen, the majority (60%) will not want to conduct meetings in person.

For employers:

  • Understanding employees’ concerns, the majority of employers (70%) noted they will be flexible if employees opt not to return to the office.
  • In order to maintain social distancing, over a third of employers (39%) will reduce the number of employees in the office at a time, with 18% requiring employees to wear masks and 18% allowing employees to WFH more/indefinitely.
  • An overwhelming majority of employers (85.5%) anticipate leveraging videoconferencing for critical meetings instead of conducting them in person, even when the office reopens.

Additional data from ADP underscore how everyone is adjusting to the new normal:

  • U. S. workers becoming comfortable with the new “normal”: The shift in work and where it is done appears to have reached its new “normal.” In the first few weeks of the crisis, stress levels were high as workers struggled with childcare constraints, fear of the virus, technical issues, and trouble completing their tasks. As the weeks progressed, many of these issues became less likely to impact their work. Though elements such as stress, work/life balance, the ability to connect with others, and the ability to complete tasks did not get better, they became less likely to get worse each week, possibly signifying workers were becoming more comfortable with the change.
  • Financial concerns appear to be short-lived: While 65% of workers indicate COVID-19 has negatively impacted their finances, or will soon, the majority (58%) of workers expect their finances to return to previous levels in the short term, including 60% of those reporting job loss or furlough.
  • Increase in job confidence and employer recovery: Employees reveal they were the least confident in their ability to retain their jobs early on, which coincided with the release of record unemployment figures. However, by week 8, there was an increase in confidence, with 68% of workers expecting they would retain their job for at least the next month and 1 in 3 (31%) expecting to return to work within the month. This optimism is possibly buoyed by a fluctuating stock market, government programs made available, and local businesses reopening.
  • Long-term effect of employer actions: By week 8, 60% of workers reveal they are satisfied with actions taken by their employer in response to COVID-19, citing increased sanitation procedures, more positive messages, and limited customer interactions as the most common company responses, according to workers. In fact, more than 60% of those highly satisfied with their employer’s actions believed their company was putting people first. A few companies have made changes to increase paid time off, add benefits, and support local hospitals or charities.

Tips for Talent Acquisition Pros

Before COVID-19 struck, employers were bending over backward to create a positive and memorable candidate experience for jobseekers; while this hasn’t changed, there’s now a new “focus”: creating a safe work environment.

The “new normal” is now here to stay, at least until there is a vaccine for COVID-19. Until then, talent acquisition professionals who are looking to attract talent back into their organizations would be wise to showcase how their company is catering to workers who may be fearful of contracting the virus. Here are just a few ways you can create a COVID-19-friendly candidate experience:

  • Communicate the steps your organization is taking to keep workers safe and healthy.
  • Listen to candidates’ concerns about coming into the organization as new hires.
  • Transition to a remote-only workforce, if possible, to help calm fears and keep workers safe.

What strategies have worked for you? Share them in our comments section below.

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