Hiring picked up toward the final weeks of 2020 in the U.S., but employers are still struggling with an “overwhelming” pool of applicants, according to a recently published survey of 500 U.S.-based HR professionals by recruiting platform iCIMS.
The company found job applications were up 13% year-over-year from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, 2020, with the rise of remote work adding new job seekers to the mix; out-of-state applications increased 34% year-over-year and made up nearly 1 in 4 of applications submitted, iCIMS said. Respondents accommodated these changes by adopting text-, chat- and video-based recruiting solutions as well as flexible work schedules.
Technology roles — which take an average of 61 days to fill compared to 42 days for non-tech roles, according to iCIMS data — continue to challenge recruiters. Internal candidates have filled certain specialized roles, however, with 72% of respondents saying that up to half of their workforces were internally redeployed in response to the pandemic.
While the majority of respondents to iCIMS’ survey, 91%, said their organizations are hiring for new roles in 2021, other research has shown hiring still largely has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. In December, ManpowerGroup’s outlook survey for Q1 2021 showed that hiring plans were down year-over-year for each U.S. region, even as several industries had outlooks that surpassed the end of 2020.
Still, recruiting and hiring talent remains at the top of HR professionals’ concerns as the job market shifts. Survey results published in November 2020 by XpertHR found two-thirds of HR professional respondents rated recruiting and hiring as either “somewhat” or “very” challenging, keeping pace with other important concerns, including managing workplace health and safety.
Beyond the numbers, however, the pandemic’s more lasting impact could be the one it has had on recruiting practices generally. Observers previously told HR Dive that the past year has made workplaces more transparent and highlighted the responsibilities employers have to their workers.
Within the recruiting conversation, as with other components of talent management, diversity and inclusion are likely to play a key role. iCIMS noted that diverse hiring activity “led the rebound” in employment toward the end of 2020, even as 84% of the company’s survey respondents said they were concerned that their organization’s current strategies were not reaching diverse talent pools.
Such concerns have caused some organizations to rethink the foundation of their hiring processes entering 2021. In a recent webinar presented by talent software company Criteria, speakers discussed the role that exclusivity, such as a tendency to select only candidates from certain educational institutions or backgrounds, may play in preventing employers from opening access to opportunities. Talent networks can also slow D&I progress or, even worse, perpetuate negative assumptions about the diversity of available talent.
Some organizations have attempted to create their own blueprints for diverse hiring practices. One such initiative, Generation USA, adopted the concept of “impact hiring” whereby individuals who have traditionally been excluded from typical hiring pipelines predominantly because of historical barriers are matched with companies based on their needs and executives, a representative previously told HR Dive.