Will Post-pandemic Recruitment Ever Return to Normal?

What a long, strange trip it’s been—when it comes to corporate recruitment, that is. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept in like a tsunami in early 2021, it turned employment and hiring upside down. Now, more than two years later, employers are wondering if recruitment ever return to its simpler, pre-pandemic state.

The short answer is: most likely, no.

What makes us say that? Well, let’s consider recent employment trends, current statistics and an expert prediction or two. Then, let’s review some updated solutions for recruiting top talent in light of the “new normal.”


By the Numbers: Our Shrinking Labor Market     

If you’re in HR, talent acquisition or management, you’re all too familiar with the rollercoaster workforce trends of the last two years. The Great Resignation. Quiet quitting. The explosion of gig work. Not to mention mass layoffs in the technology sector.

And it’s not quite over yet.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report, the U.S. saw more than 11 million job openings in December, 2022. Not uncoincidentally, that same month, 4.1 million U.S. workers quit their jobs.

In fact, no fewer than 50.5 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in 2022, breaking the 47.8 million record set in 2021. Compare that to the 42.1 million workers who resigned back in 2019—which, ironically, was considered a tight labor market at the time.

At the same time, more workers turned to gig employment and part-time work. In the post-pandemic market, fewer Americans are choosing traditional, full-time jobs.

No wonder McKinsey, a global management expert, predicts that we’ll continue to see voluntary quit rates running 25% higher than pre-pandemic for the foreseeable future.


A Paradigm Shift: What Workers Want 

Nothing galvanizes us to face our own mortality like a deadly pandemic. That terrifying prospect drove many of us to rethink our priorities, work-related and beyond.

Which is why job-seekers report that their #1 priority is achieving better work/life balance. It’s more important than salary, title, security—the traditional levers that worked well in the past.

Many workers seek positions that offer flexible schedules, such as remote and hybrid options. They also crave meaningful work, a positive workplace culture and employers that appreciate their value.  

In fact, in one survey, 40% of workers said they were likely to leave their jobs in the next three to six months. And of those who had resigned in the last six months, 36% left without having another job lined up!


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5 Ways to Update Your Recruitment Process 

The employee mindset has radically changed. In order to recruit effectively, employers need to make changes, too. Specifically:

1. Rethink Your Job Requirements 
Consider whether you can realistically loosen some long-established job requirements. Do you really need X years of experience and a Y degree for a Z position? While some high-level and/or highly-technical roles call for specific credentials, are there positions where excellent soft skills can compensate for a shorter resume? 
2. Always Recruit from Within First
Internal staff promotions offer many advantages. You already know your candidates; they know how your organization works. You’ll save a fortune on job searches—and offering employees a path to advancement is great for engagement and morale.

3. Recruit More Competitively from Afar 
You can’t always find talent in your own backyard, especially for specialized positions. Start launching more compelling national job searches. However, before you do, make sure your relocation benefits are competitive. (We can help you with this one!)

4. Offer Greater Scheduling Flexibility
If you can offer remote and/or hybrid work options, do it. In a recent SHRM Research survey, nearly half of respondents they’ll pursue a remote position for their next job. When that’s not an option, consider offering candidates a lighter schedule. For example, healthcare employers can effectively woo burned-out physicians with the promise of fewer hours.

5. Improve Your Employees’ Experience
From ramping up your recognition programs…to expanding your benefits…to taking employee pulse surveys, there are many ways to show your people that you care. When you can demonstrate that you’re in tune with the wants and needs of the post-pandemic workforce, you’ll draw more quality candidates to you.   

Because, while in some ways it’s a new normal, appreciation and caring will never go out of style.  

Human Resources Today