Hiring Volumes Down and Disruptiveness Up: Exclusive TLNT Research on COVID-19 Recruiting Impacts

Organizations are hiring fewer candidates today than they were in late February/early March, and they are feeling the disruptiveness of COVID-19 in acute ways. That’s what the newest research from TLNT shows as organizations shift under the weight of a global pandemic.

Despite this disruptive downturn, recruiting and hiring employees surveyed by TLNT rate their organizations highly in keeping candidates and recruiters safe, communicating updates about the pandemic, and their overall effectiveness of handling the COVID-19 crisis.

TLNT did a flash survey of TLNT and ERE readers at the end of February and early March when the pandemic was still early in its impact and then sent the same survey in early April after many shelter-in-place orders had been extended.

Let’s look at some of the research.

Employers stood pat in March, slowed in April

Employers were mostly standing pat in early March, with more than two-thirds saying they weren’t changing the volume of candidates they were hiring.

In early April, those numbers more than flip-flopped. Today, 78% of organizations say they have changed the volume of hiring they are doing. Just 5% of those organizations saying they have changed the volume of candidates they are hiring are increasing hiring. The rest are slowing or freezing hiring.

The disruption to operations has increased

Back in early March, nearly seven in 10 respondents would say that COVID-19 was only somewhat disruptive or not at all disruptive. By April, that figure shrunk to three in 10.

Today, less than 2% of respondents say that COVID-19 isn’t at all disruptive, while more than 40% call it extremely disruptive.

Overall organizational response rating has improved

You might expect that as organizations start to grapple with the realities of the pandemic, criticism might mount about the effectiveness of their response. In critical areas, the exact opposite is true, though. We asked respondents to rate their organization across several factors, including safety, communication, and overall effectiveness and found improvements across the board.

Safety is a top priority for organizations during this crisis, and organizations are stepping up in a big way. Today, more than 90% of respondents rated their organization’s ability to keep themselves and candidates safe as either good or very good, a significant increase from even the fairly good figures from last month.

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Organizations also stepped up their communication with hiring staff since the onset of COVID-19, with nearly 60% of organizations rating their organization’s communication as very good today versus the 46% rating in early March.

Finally, when we asked respondents about how they rated their organization’s overall effectiveness of handling COVID-19, we saw more improvement from early on in the pandemic. Today, 63% rated their organization’s overall effectiveness as very good versus the 44% that rated it as very good in early March.

What a difference a month makes

It’s not just you: March was quite a month for everyone, including those in recruiting and hiring. In all my years of researching the HR and talent acquisition community, I have never seen a shift as dramatic as this across nearly all of our measures in such a short period of time. In a month, we went from primarily business as usual — with most companies hiring and onboarding the same as before — to a dramatic shift in both those measures.

One early indicator of an impending change in all of our research was the shift in interviewing. In fact, 56% of organizations had already changed their approach to in-person interviewing by the time we surveyed them in early March, well before shelter-in-place orders were in place.  Today, over 90% have changed their approach to in-person interviewing.

While this shift was sudden and had negative impacts on recruiting and hiring, we do see positives in how organizations have continued to prioritize key areas of their response to the pandemic, including safety, communication, and effectiveness. While there have been some negative stories about some organization’s reactions to COVID-19, hiring and recruiting employees still have a high degree of confidence in their company’s response — at least for now.

Survey details

Two separate three-minute pulse surveys were sent out to e-mail subscribers and social media followers of TLNT and ERE. All of the questions on the surveys were identical. The first survey was run in late February and early March, with 293 qualified responses. The second survey was run in early April, with 237 qualified responses. The margin of error on both surveys was 6%, with a 95% confidence interval. Portions of this research were previously shared at ERE Digital and on TLNT.

Lance Haun is the practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy, where he focuses on researching and writing about work technology. He is also a former editor for ERE Media, broadly covering the world of human resources, recruiting, and sourcing. 
 
He has been featured as a work expert in publications like the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC, Fast Company, and other HR and business websites.
 
He's based in his Vancouver, Wash., home office with his wife and adorable daughter. You can reach him by email or find him off-topic on Twitter.

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