We’ve gone from the hottest job market in decades at <4% unemployment at the beginning of this year to a 14.7% unemployment rate in April as payrolls dropped by an “unprecedented 20.5 million,” according to this Wall Street Journal report.
Assuming COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline, the U.S. jobs market will gradually bounce back. The recruiting industry is typically a leading indicator, and we’re seeing promising signs of activity and hiring. But don’t expect that we will return to the same jobs market as before, and we don’t mean simply because of the volume of jobs available.
Companies who are re-hiring now, or in the coming months, will do so in a drastically different environment – both in terms of the size of the candidate pool and the expectations for the roles. The mindset of many businesses when hiring going forward will be that they want an absolute “A” player that checks all of the boxes.
Also, this may seem harsh, but there are companies who used COVID-19 as a cover to lay off the people who they considered to be their low performers. Now, they want to rehire people who they think are clear upgrades. There’s less pressure for them to settle or compromise.
Call it a risk-premium or opportunism. Companies do not know how quickly the economic rebound will be, and they can rationalize hiring if the caliber of candidates is higher. Businesses can afford to do this because there is more talent out there, and in most cases, the timeline to hire is less urgent.
How Job Candidates Can Best Position Themselves
If you were laid off, don’t read this and feel defeated. Yes, new hires will be scrutinized more in this environment. But there is a lot you can do to position yourself favorably and become a desired candidate.
This article explains a variety of steps you can take to stand out. Also, spend time on yourself. Pause for self-examination by thoughtfully considering which roles fit your unique strengths and aptitudes. What company and job would give you the best opportunity to succeed? List the qualities you are looking for in a supervisor and the duties you want in a job. Everyone is an “A” player in a specific role, so spend time figuring out what that is for you.
Dedicating the hours to evaluating these topics will help you narrow your search and improve your outcome. It’s much more efficient than a shotgun approach.
One way to learn what you’re best at is by taking the CliftonStrengths assessment. You may even decide to present the results to prospective employers. It’s one way to differentiate yourself.
The margin for error right now in the application and interviewing process is narrow, but the task is not insurmountable.
If there’s anything we can do to help your job search, or if you’d like to set up an appointment with one of our recruiters, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.