The staffing and recruitment industry is going through one of its most challenging periods, much like every industry in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have seen mass layoffs, pay cuts, shutdowns, even bankruptcies. Many small and medium-sized enterprises have folded under this pressure, as the domestic economy braces for the onset of a potential recession.

To compound matters further, the inflation rate has climbed to a record high, with nearly 18 million Americans filing for unemployment this year. They join the 30 million Americans already on unemployment benefits prior to COVID-19. That’s not to mention the millions of freelancers and self-employed individuals who haven’t filed for unemployment benefits. As a staffing agency with years of experience, we can safely tell you these are unprecedented times for hiring managers and professional recruiters. Is your hiring team ready to handle the challenge looming ahead?

What Things Looked Like In the Pre-COVID Candidate Market?

Until the onset of the pandemic in the United States, the economy enjoyed a decade of growth, progress, and development. There was substantial growth to GDP, investments, average salaries, and employment rates. Until very recently, the hiring market favored candidates over employers. There was a large demand for professionals like engineers, marketers, sales reps, technicians, and mortgage and lending experts. More importantly, there weren’t enough active candidates in the job market. This forced employers to develop more innovative talent acquisition strategies, trying to acquire passive candidates from other firms in their niche.

A Glance at the Post-COVID Hiring Industry

The outbreak of COVID-19 changed everything almost everything overnight. Experts went from healthy growth projections to dire warnings about recessions and economic downturn. Soon, the economic casualties began rolling in, as business after business furloughed their employees. The national unemployment rate soared in a matter of weeks, with millions of Americans filing for unemployment in the first few weeks of the nationwide lockdown. Presently, the job market consists of a large number of unemployed candidates who are actively seeking employment. Most are chasing after every job opportunity that they can find. As a result, firms are seeing a massive influx of applications for all open positions. The problem is, very few businesses are prepared for the onset of mass applications.

The Mass Applications Challenges Hiring Managers are Facing

If you’ve recently published a posting for an open position, you will have undoubtedly noticed that the candidate response is much more than usual. Candidates are no longer passive about their next employment opportunity. Many are going after any job suited to their skill sets and expertise. This means that your organization will likely have many more candidates in the hiring pipeline. While the competitive pool yields a high quality of applicants, the overwhelming number will no doubt present a number of unprecedented challenges for employers:

Very High Influx of Applicants

The biggest problem is obvious. The massive influx of applications has forced professionals to actively chase after employment. The sheer volume of applications can become very difficult for in-house hiring teams to manage. Many businesses simply don’t have the manpower or budget necessary to screen and interview candidates of that magnitude. Consequently, there is a very good chance your team will miss out on a quality application because it was buried underneath a pile of others.

SMEs Lack Specialized Applicant Tracking Systems

Most small and medium-sized firms operate on limited budgets. They have very distinct priorities when it comes to allocating funds to business processes. It’s not surprising that businesses want to spend more on functions that directly generate revenue. This often places the hiring function at a disadvantage.

Without a sufficient budget, most hiring managers have to work without specialized applicant tracking systems. Of course, in the normal course of things, this isn’t so bad but it’s not desirable either. A reasonable influx of applicants can still be managed without a structured system. When it comes to high-volume recruitment, you simply won’t be able to keep track of applicants without an ATS or something similar in place. This dilemma is compounded by the fact that many businesses are seeing shrinking revenues and declining profits. As a result, these organizations have even fewer funds to allocate to their hiring protocol.

Conventional Candidate Screening Processes aren’t Working

The problem isn’t simply in tracking the large volume of incoming applications. There is also the fact that conventional candidate screening processes just aren’t built for use during a global pandemic. Because firms need to prioritize health and safety for both existing and potential employees, employers may need to come up with new methods to screen candidates. Companies may need to invest in specialized recruiting tools such as live video and scheduling software. In the face of shrinking profits, this can pose a critical dilemma for businesses operating with a mindset of fiscal conservatism.

Good Quality Talent Mixed in with Mediocre Applicants

Recruiters worry a lot about making hiring mistakes – selecting the wrong candidate, for example. On the other hand, they must also concern themselves with passing over top-quality talent, something that is very easy to do with massive application volumes in the current marketplace. Bear in mind, it’s not just mediocre candidates that have lost their jobs. Many businesses have also been forced to let go of their top performers. Their loss can be your gain, certainly, but identifying a single good applicant amid thousands of average ones in the talent pipeline can prove very challenging for hiring managers.


What should you do to ensure your talent acquisition stays geared towards business growth under the current circumstances? Partnering with a full-service firm like CGT Staffing may be the most opportune solution for many businesses. Our firm possesses the manpower and specialized tools needed to deal with a high volume of applications and screen them to find the best fit for your business. Likewise, we have adapted our adapt sourcing and screening processes to interview and deliver strong candidates in a safe, COVID-friendly environment.

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