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Where are the job seekers? Already lagging applications drop another 14% in the second half of March

March 31, 2021
iCIMS Staff
2 min read

March marked one year of living and working in a pandemic state in the U.S. The way we work shifted radically and continues to evolve.

I’ve been in the trenches looking at labor trends from a data perspective and have been seeing some atypical activity the last few weeks.

Employers are ready to hire, with openings holding steady during a time of year they historically dip. Typically, openings are a promising sign that hires will follow. However, right now, job seekers’ behavior is not fully aligned.

Application activity has been lagging the last few months. We saw a further downward trend in activity in mid-March, beginning around the same time that the $1.9 trillion U.S. stimulus bill passed. While job seekers are still looking, there are fewer applying. Applications dropped 14% in the second half of the month – this is a steeper decline than we saw at the onset of the pandemic last year.

job applications down 14%

This contradiction between employers and job seekers could suggest that organizations have set in place contingency plans and are better prepared to work through uncertainty. However, the workforce is still very much feeling the impact of the pandemic personally and professionally.

Now more than ever, talent is the key to success in business. Shifts in the workforce’s interest in and ability to work will need to be considered as organizational needs are reevaluated. Your people power your business and are what sets you apart from the competition.

While we may have better plans in place now to work functionally, employers need to rethink their workforce and their approaches to attracting, engaging, hiring, and retaining talent as job seeker behavior and preferences evolve. One of the first steps in this process is fostering a culture of recruiting and approaching hiring as an always-on practice.

Check out this recent blog from my colleague Gazmend Kalicovic for some tips on how you can unleash the power of your people to build a winning workforce.

Gazmend suggests that we start by providing a platform for our colleagues to share their stories through written and video content. The authentic stories our teammates share, about our work culture, the support our organization gives us during these times, and how they contribute to the organization’s mission, can give job seekers the extra motivation they need to follow through on job openings.

For more information on the latest hiring trends and insights, check out our monthly iCIMS Insights reports.


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