Survey Data Says COVID-19 Has Made Hiring Easier

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new and unprecedented challenges for organizations of all shapes and sizes. But data from our 2020 Hiring Benchmark Report suggests that the pandemic hasn’t necessarily made things more difficult for everyone.

In a survey of over 400 hiring professionals across all industries, we asked how challenging they were finding different aspects of their HR and hiring processes. We ask this question every year, whether there’s a global pandemic of not. What we didn’t expect to find was that, across the board, hiring professionals found nearly every aspect of their jobs to be easier. Here are the results:

Areas hiring professionals found challenging

In 7 out of 8 of these activities, hiring professionals are finding them to be less challenging in 2020 than they were in 2019. To start, we see that this year, 68% of hiring professionals say that “Finding high quality job candidates” is a challenge. This is the area that our respondents have found the most challenging year after year. But this number went down significantly from 2019, when 87% found it to be challenging.

This pattern continued across nearly every activity. For example, this year less than half of organizations are finding it challenging to “make the hiring process more efficient,” to “get enough applicants,” or even to “reduce employee turnover.”

Ultimately, the pattern that emerges is that, on average, hiring professionals find the work of attracting, hiring, and retaining talent to be easier this year. What is causing this shift in perception?

High Unemployment = More Candidates

One of the most obvious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic was the sudden increase in unemployment. The unemployment rate in the U.S. shot up from 3.8% in February to a peak of 14.4% in April of 2020, and we have yet to see a full recovery.

The result is that more job seekers are on the market, and employers are seeing more job applicants as a result. In fact, our own data from Criteria’s assessment platform revealed that since February, the number of applicants per job has doubled. With more choice, it’s no wonder that employers aren’t finding it as challenging to get enough applicants.

Less Hiring is Happening, Too

Another potential reason that professionals are finding hiring to be less challenging this year is that there’s simply less hiring going on. In our 2020 survey, we found that 51% of respondents said that their organizations reduced hiring this year, while 36% froze hiring completely at some point.

With hiring put on hold for a lot of organizations, it’s no surprise that these areas would become less of a concern this year. Those in HR and Talent Acquisition often wear many hats, and the reduction in hiring likely gives these teams time to focus on other pressing areas – such as helping their organizations cope with remote work.

Not Everything is Easier

There was one area that hiring professionals found to be slightly more challenging this year, and that was “optimizing employee training programs.” This went up one percentage point, essentially flat but nevertheless an area that continues to concern HR teams.

This likely continues to be a difficult area because of the challenges of managing a remote workforce. The need for employee training doesn’t simply go away just because the work has shifted. If anything, training programs should be optimized for a remote environment, which adds an extra layer of complication.

Ultimately, we can all agree that 2020 has presented challenges that we couldn’t have foreseen. But in one small area – hiring – things may have gotten a little easier. Has the hiring landscape shifted to an employer-driven market? Will hiring continue to be “less challenging” now that more job seekers are looking for work? Only time will tell as we round out 2020 and continue into the new year amidst the ongoing pandemic.

Want the full scoop on how hiring has changed this year? Get your copy of the 2020 Hiring Benchmark Report.