The overall unemployment rate fell to 6.2% in February—its lowest point since April of last year. While that number does not tell the whole story, it does indicate that some industries have begun massive hiring undertakings to get back to their pre-COVID levels. Hopefully, with the increasing vaccine rollout, others are soon to follow.
ADP’s latest report on private payroll growth captures the disparity between the official numbers and the reality for many. While economists forecast the addition of 225,000 jobs in February, ADP’s numbers show companies adding only 117,000 jobs for the month. Notably, the manufacturing industry lost 14,000 jobs, and construction lost 3,000. Hospitality still has 3.8 million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic hit.
Veronika Dolar, assistant professor of economics at SUNY Old Westbury, points out that the unemployment rate also fails to capture the large number of workers, primarily women, who have simply exited the labor force. Dolar says the unemployment rate fell in January not because more people found jobs but because more than 400,000 people—275,000 of which were women—left the workforce. Long-term unemployment is becoming the norm for many: A February 2021 fact sheet from the National Women’s Law Center notes that 40% of unemployed women have been out of work for 6 or more months. If we account for these people, the real unemployment rate could be 11.1% or even higher.
To explain the mass exodus from the workforce and the disparities in job recovery, we have to take a closer look at the state of hiring today. More people are working remotely than ever before, and the hiring process itself has also gone virtual. Some 68% of HR professionals say their companies have been recruiting, hiring, and interviewing virtually since the start of the pandemic.
The Same Old Doesn’t Work Anymore
While the medium of hiring has shifted from face-to-face meetings to virtual interviews, the means of hiring has primarily remained the same. Hiring managers still follow the same old steps: They post ads on job boards, solicit résumés, conduct phone screens, and ask the same interview questions. We’ve simply added technology to an archaic process. What we need is a fundamental transformation of the process itself.
The résumé-first approach to hiring relies on traditional candidate success indicators, like education, tenure, and previous employers’ prestige, to evaluate candidate fit. Yet, the pandemic has shaken up our careers, making it hard to present our trajectories neatly within the confines of a résumé. Moreover, the pandemic hit different industries in deeply uneven ways, and many of the candidates now in the market may have professional backgrounds that differ from employers’ expectations. These candidates may have transferable skills that would help them thrive in a new role, but employers won’t know that if they continue to rely on résumés. Without a chance to present their full stories, candidates field rejection after rejection.
Résumé-First Hiring Is Harmful
This résumé-first hiring process not only is a disservice to candidates but also harms our companies. As it currently exists, the virtual hiring process is too expensive for the scale of hiring we need today. Businesses are spending $4,000 per hire on average, and U.S. employers spent almost $23 billion hiring 5.5 million workers in December alone—an annualized cost of $276 billion. The price will only climb higher as the Great Rehiring of America gets underway throughout 2021.
More than ever, there is a need to adjust the hiring practices that were once in place to reflect a now increasingly remote, diverse, and humanized workforce. That means revisiting archaic systems that no longer serve us and creating something better. Pre-pandemic, on average, each corporate job offer attracted 250 résumés. The focus was previously placed on using artificially intelligent (AI) systems and technology to screen those résumés as quickly as possible and get someone in the door. As we think about hiring back better, we must focus on the right person for the job who adds to that particular workplace and has the soft skills to go along with his or her résumé experience. Just as businesses have turned to platforms like Zoom and Skype to substitute for in-person meetings and live interviews, the shift to video will only continue to take hold of recruiting and hiring.
The hiring process needs to be far less cumbersome for all parties involved. The cost of hiring needs to be reduced to make it fiscally feasible for employers to undertake massive restaffing projects, and candidates need a way to tell their stories beyond their résumés, which are no longer the most accurate way to gauge candidate fit.
Video Introduction a Step in the Right Direction
Consider a hiring process that begins not with a résumé but with a quick video introduction recorded on a candidate’s smartphone. That would allow candidates to present themselves not as documents to be filed in a digital drawer but as real people with skills, experiences, and abilities that are not always captured on paper.
For employers, watching a video takes far less time than scanning résumés and conducting phone screens. The average time to hire could be slashed by roughly a third—and with it, the average cost per hire. Video also yields deeper insight into candidate personalities and culture fit, which is vital information in choosing the right person for a role. That leads to better hires, less turnover, and less money spent replacing employees who weren’t the right match.
Video hiring technology is the democratizing force the job market needs right now. It could level the playing field, give more workers a chance to get back into the labor force, and allow employers to restaff their organizations at a fraction of the cost.
We are in the midst of an epochal technological revolution, and there’s no reason hiring should not be at the forefront. Video-first hiring offers the profoundly human, technology-driven approach we need to kick-start the American economy and bring millions of discouraged workers back into the fold.