We’re kicking off a new series here on the Jobvite blog. Each quarter, we’re going to check in with Jobvite’s Chief Data Scientist Morgan Llewellyn, PhD to look at some of the trends emerging in the job market. As we close out 2020 and look toward hope in 2021, I caught up with Morgan (over Zoom of course) to see how the continuing impact of COVID has affected the job Market.
Q: What is application volume telling us about the Fall job market?
A: Well, the COVID impact on talent and recruiting was a mixed bag. Compared to 2019 levels, late 2020 application volume was down 2.4% driven primarily by lower job postings. At a macro level, job seeking activity is high and only slightly off the 2019 pace. Yet, at the micro level, there are pockets of strength and weakness in industries. We continue to see strength in the healthcare and manufacturing spaces while the leisure and hospitality sector remains weak.
Q: Did fewer applicants translate to less competition for job seekers?
A: Not exactly. Late 2020 job seekers were chasing fewer jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total job openings in the U.S. were down 8.7% in September relative to 2019. However, there were multiple bright spots as some industries posted significantly more jobs in 2020 relative to 2019. Not surprising, the demand for healthcare generated by COVID translated into higher job posting activity, especially in key roles such as nursing. Within manufacturing, particular strength was seen among demand for automotive manufacturing and mechanical engineers while weakness remained within aerospace and banking.
Q: What impact will this have on recruiting?
A: The impact of these macro-economic trends on recruiting is that many recruiters saw greater application volumes. Just look at applications per job posting. This was up approximately 10% in the compared to 2019. Furthermore, this key metric was generally up regardless of whether the industry was posting more, or fewer, jobs during the latter part of 2020.
One key issue I want to make sure I address is in healthcare. There are indications that availability of critical nursing professionals is tightening. While demand for nurses remains high as expressed through job postings, there has been an erosion in the number of applicants per job starting in the late summer and continuing through the fall. These trends indicate that recruiters are facing even greater competition for nursing talent relative to what they were experiencing just a few months ago. It’s clear the need for automation for recruiters is more important than ever.
Q: What about the quality of applicants?
A: According to the Jobvite 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey, applicant quality has become a top consideration for assessing applicant pool health. Using interviews and offers as a proxy for quality, applicant quality was as good or slightly better relative to 2019. The likelihood of a recruiter interviewing an applicant was approximately the same during the fall of 2020 compared to 2019. Yet, the likelihood of making an offer, conditional on an interview, was up about 10% in the fall of 2020 relative to 2019.
Q: What’s the key takeaway for recruiters?
A: Overall, this fall was generally more recruiter-friendly as applications per job were up and offers as a percentage of interviews increased. While job posting activity was broadly lower, there were pockets of strength in posting activity among the healthcare and manufacturing sectors.