Hourly Workers Are Essential. They Deserve a Better Candidate Experience.

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Millions of people lost their jobs in 2020. At first, these were expected to be temporary layoffs. Now, nearly half of those workers who were let go don’t expect to get their jobs back, and hourly workers are shouldering the brunt of these job losses.

In 2019, hourly workers made up more than half the workforce. Now, many of these workers are looking for new jobs. We, as industry leaders, have an opportunity to rethink our hiring practices.

Why the Candidate Experience Needs to Change

The pandemic drove home the point that a business’s most important asset is its people — and it taught us that hourly workers are essential workers. Across the world, the people serving customers in pharmacies, packing orders in warehouses, and delivering groceries became the backbones of local economies. In 2020, we came to depend on hourly workers in ways we never had before.

Why are we still comfortable treating hourly job seekers with less respect than other segments of the paid workforce?

Hourly employees face indignities throughout the application and hiring process. A survey conducted in early 2020 found only 27 percent of hourly candidates were satisfied with the application process, and even fewer were satisfied with interviewing and screening. Some of the common issues hourly candidates face include:

  1. A submission black hole: Candidates can spend over an hour on an application and never hear a word from the company.
  2. Minimum effort: Companies use the classic “We”ll get back to you,” but follow-up never comes.
  3. Lengthy applications: When’s the last time you looked at some of the information these applications ask for? Often, they ask for details that play no role in the actual hiring decision.
  4. Ineffective robots: Chatbots can be great tools if used properly. Often, however, they just prevent a candidate from getting their questions answered, or they dump applicants right back into an unwieldy legacy system.

Recruiting has become less and less personal and more and more frustrating for hourly candidates. We pour tons of time and effort into curating excellent candidate experiences for salaried positions, but what if we made similar investments in how we hire hourly workers? What if we began treating hourly workers like the essential workers they are? What if we started treating all job seekers with the dignity they deserve?

Competition for good hourly talent will only intensify, and companies will need to find new ways to compete. Job seekers take the candidate experience as a significant indicator of how they might be treated as employees. A respectful, communicative candidate experience will get them excited about your company; a lengthy, inconvenient one will only drive them to your competitors.

Check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:

How to Change the Hourly Hiring Process

The candidate experience for hourly jobs needs to change. How, exactly, do we change it?

There are a lot of options, but let’s start with these three.

1. Reduce Process Inefficiencies

It’s time we stop collecting documents and information that don’t impact decision-making. Is a resume necessary for an hourly position? Consider the roadblocks you create for many qualified applicants when you require a resume as the first step of your application process.

You need to create an engaging and frictionless experience for job seekers that puts your job and company at the top of their minds. Throw out steps that gather useless or duplicative information, and embrace efficiencies that help you hire faster.

2. Mobile Is No Longer Enough

The mobile customer experience is on the minds of most business leaders, but the mobile candidate experience gets much less consideration.

Take retail as an example. In 2019, nearly half of retailers said mobile experience was one of their top customer engagement priorities. Yet, in a January 2020 survey from Aptitude Research, only 41 percent of job seekers said they had the opportunity to apply for jobs through a mobile device.

Beware: Replicating cumbersome processes in a mobile environment ultimately delivers a poor candidate experience. Don’t simply offer the same old data-entry steps on a smartphone. Instead, rethink how mobile can move your applicant through the hiring process with the power of conversation and text.

3. Don’t Just Fill the Role — Fill It Right

It’s easy for hiring managers to lose sight of the necessity of finding best-fit candidates. Hiring is only one part of their job, and they need people to fill shifts. Many hiring managers simply lack the time to do more than fill a role.

Yet as hiring volumes skyrocket in the post-pandemic era, it’s going to be all the more critical for hiring managers and recruiters to find not just candidates but the right candidates. A great way to do this is through assessments. While preemployment tests are typically lengthy and used for salaried positions, they can actually be delivered through mobile with a little tweaking. Not only does this add an additional layer of qualification for hourly candidates, but it will also help companies find best-fit candidates while giving each applicant the sense that the company truly cares about each hire.

At the end of the day, the best thing talent acquisition and recruiting professionals can do to improve the hourly candidate experience is make hiring human again. In the midst of competition for talent and trying times, empathy is a key tool for recruiters. Treat hourly candidates with dignity. Communicate regularly, be responsive, and build confidence (even when you decide not to hire them).

Jerry Collier is managing director of the product division at AMS, the team responsible for imagining and launching Hourly.

Read more in Recruitment Process

Jerry Collier is managing director of the product division at AMS, the team responsible for imagining and launching the new conversational hiring experience that is Hourly.