Recruiting the Class of 2020 Won’t Be the Same Due to COVID-19

Congrats to the class of 2020! On behalf of everyone everywhere, we want to be the first to apologize for how your final year of school ended! Graduation ceremonies have been canceled, and you won’t get the same experience of walking onto the stage and getting your diploma handed to you, but fear not: You’ll be the first class to experience an entirely digital hiring process! And being the tech-savvy Gen Zs you are, we know you’ll do great! It’s the underprepared HR pros and recruiters we’re worried about.

According to new research from recruiting platform iCIMS, U.S. college graduates in the class of 2020 were expected to apply to roughly 10 jobs on average before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and after, that number doubled to 20. The iCIMS Class of 2020 report uncovers the changes in the expectations of graduating seniors and offers insights on how employers will recruit entry-level talent as the economy itself shifts gears.

Report Details

The report is based on a survey of 500 U.S. college seniors and 500 recruiters and HR professionals, along with data points and trends from iCIMS’s proprietary database of more than 3 million job postings, 75 million applications, and 4 million hires each year.

“The college graduating class of 2020 had big career hopes and expected to be welcomed by a strong job market,” says Irene DeNigris, chief people officer at iCIMS, in a press release. “Employers were thriving and needed candidates to fill open positions in their growing businesses. However, the economy shifted in response to the global health crisis and is changing the way employers hire.”

“Our new reality reinforces the need for flexibility, as the center of gravity shifts from a candidates’ market to an employers’ market,” DeNigris adds. “It is more critical than ever before to be prepared for the future of work, continuing to put people at the forefront of all that we do.”

The Hiring Landscape Varies

Some companies are hiring at an increased speed and volume, while others are transitioning to a completely virtual hiring and onboarding structure, hiring with precision, or solely focusing on maintaining engagement with talent pools and current employees. While employers navigate changing business needs, HR and talent acquisition leaders must plan for long-term success.

The Class of 2020 report reveals preferences and expectations of the newest wave of candidates entering the job market, as well as how leading employers are maintaining their talent goals.

According to the report, some of the top tools and methods college seniors are using to search for jobs are Google (64%), social media/job board hybrids such as LinkedIn (64%), company career pages (57%), and career fairs (57%).

Pro tip: Improve the quality of job applicants and drive more relevant traffic to career portals by focusing on the search engine optimization of job postings so they get picked up by Google. Ensure the company career site is dynamic and mobile-friendly, and pivot events strategies to host virtual career fairs.

iCIMS also found that the overwhelming majority (95%) of jobseekers entering the workforce expect to hear back from an employer in less than 2 weeks after applying for a specific position.

Pro tip: Prioritize transparency in application statuses, knowing that students are actively submitting to jobs, as companies’ time frames shift. Utilize candidate relationship management (CRM) tools, texting, and online job portals to keep candidates engaged and informed.

The iCIMS report also found that 66% of recruiting professionals say they have been ghosted by a candidate in the past year, and nearly 32% say they have been ghosted more than 5 times. This has been a recurring problem for the last few years, but now that COVID-19 has changed the employment landscape, ghosting may become a thing of the past. However, recruiters and HR pros should still be diligent about their recruiting efforts just to be safe.

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