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How 36 Million Unemployed by COVID-19 Changes the Hiring Landscape

by Michael Murphy / May 28, 2020

Three months ago, the US was looking at record-low unemployment. The professionals in the workforce had jobs and much of the job-seeking was from those who were looking to be tempted by something better. 

Of course, all that has changed. The economic hit caused by the first waves of coronavirus and the unbelievable impact of the stay-at-home mandate has put many companies out of business. Others have laid off half or more of their staff. Yet more had to put teams on ice, with an indefinite lack of scheduled hours. Ultimately, this has led to over 36 million unemployed. Over 3.3 million applied for unemployment insurance in the last week of March alone and that number has expanded by more than 33 million since then. Reported numbers estimate anywhere from a 10% to 20% unemployment rate.

The Job Market Has Never Been So Rich

The numbers are devastating from one perspective. But like all things in business, new circumstances mean new opportunities. If your company is currently hiring, suddenly there are 36 million professionals out there in need of new Covid-adapted employment.

Companies that struggled to find quality applicants two months ago are now swimming in remote-work candidates. If you know where to find them, the job market has never been more saturated with people from all industries and skill-levels ready to jump right back in. The War for Talent is officially over, or at least on hiatus, and the entire business world is experiencing a talent shake-up. Right now, the labor pool is full to bursting and ready for hiring managers to help these professionals achieve their proper role of employment again.

A Higher Calibur of Job-Seekers

For hiring managers, it’s also worth noting that the pool of unemployed job-seekers is also of a much higher caliber than average. 36 million professionals just released into the job market became unemployed by no fault of their own. No conflict in the workplace or poor work performance is a factor. These are hard-working people fulfilling roles that suddenly stopped existing because of a world event.

The vast majority of people laid off due to coronavirus shutdowns are skilled professionals who are eager to start a new Covid-safe role. You will likely find that more of your candidates not only qualify, but make up an impressive selection from which to choose. Rather than competing with your business contemporaries, each business with roles available will be able to absorb some of the high-quality professionals who were suddenly cut loose by this crisis.

Adapting Your Roles to Covid Conditions

The first task for a hiring manager today is to ensure that the roles you’re hiring for can be performed by workers today. If you were in the recruiting process before the Covid-crash, please don’t overlook that roles on your docket may already be impossible to serve in during the lock-down. If your team hasn’t rebuilt all available roles to match a new Covid-safe business model, do that now and re-write your job listings.

Make sure that there are sufficient remote programs and resources for your newly hired employees to jump right into the game. Make sure the roles can be performed remotely from a home computer or safely outside the home with protective gear and no-contact policies.

Covid Impact on Your Hiring Methods and Budget

Of course, your hiring methods and your budget for hiring may also have just changed drastically. Gone are the days of in-person interviews and tours around the facility. You’ll need to plan for a 100% remote hiring process using email, phone, and video conferencing. Practice with these tools before you start interviews so that you’re not the source of technical difficulty delays. This is something we all deal with.

As for your hiring budget, some businesses’ hiring plans have just gone through the roof. E-commerce customer service and grocery delivery, for example, are hiring like crazy and ideally the hiring budget matches this. On the flip-side, you may be able to reduce total hiring costs without those in-person interviews.

Maintain a Position of Compassion

On a special note: remember to learn from the past. The last time unemployment was this high was the Great Depression, and we know the shady “I've got the jobs” hiring practices that came from that era. Don’t repeat the past and remember that the entire world (including the people you are hiring) are going through hardship right now. Be compassionate, be flexible, and be considerate in your job hiring.

  • Be transparent: don’t waste candidates’ time, ghost them, or lead them on.
  • Be respectful: If you need to reject or critique someone, do it with respect and compassion.
  • Be helpful: provide feedback to help candidates find the next role if you pass or to improve if you hire.
  • Be flexible: expand your concept of what makes a good hire, especially in dire times when every hand on deck matters.

Develop a New Approach to Onboarding

Once you have your new hires, the next challenge is onboarding both safely and effectively. In most roles, it is no longer practical or possible to onboard in person, but you can reinvent your methods for remote work. Using a cloud-based onboarding system, you can automate workflow processes like new hire paperwork, training materials and videos. 


You can host a webinar for a batch of new recruits and go over all the usual documents and information together as if you were an onboarding class.

If your business likes to onboard through mentorship, pair your new hires with current remote employees and encourage them to video-chat throughout the day as your newest employees learn the ropes.

Hiring in the Age of Coronavirus

Right now is the best time for businesses to hire in over a decade. Unemployment is through the roof and there are over 36 million professionals out there eager to restart their careers under Covid-safe conditions. With the right approach, you can build a capable team for all of your business purposes. The people you hire today might form a powerful team that will stay with you for years after the coronavirus has passed. Or, if you’re hiring for temporary demand relief, the right methods can put together the emergency-response teams your community needs. 

More About Platinum Group

Platinum Group is a full service human capital management (HCM) resource that allows businesses to manage their payroll and benefits compliance, track time and attendance, and conduct other human resources functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and eliminates redundancies. This is made possible by means of our platform, iSolved. For more information about Platinum Group, or to schedule a demo of iSolved, please visit our website.

Tags: Onboarding Platinum Group Asheville Payroll iSolved HCM Talent Acquisition iSolved Payroll COVID-19 Asheville HCM

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.