5 Ways to Find and Attract Talent During COVID-19

June 24, 2020

Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are slowly beginning to reopen, but a not-so-obvious unexpected challenge is getting in the way for some. As it turns out, many open job positions actually pay less than the expanded unemployment benefits received under the CARES Act. In fact, an estimated 68% of unemployed workers are collecting more on unemployment than they earned while working.

As a result, many employers are reporting a lack of applicants and an increase in interview no-shows. For example, dslevine, a contributor from Indeed’s Employer Community, says: “I posted a job almost 24 hours ago and do not have a single applicant. Normally, I’d have 20-30 by this time. I fear that unemployment is more lucrative (albeit shortsighted).”

Meanwhile, there are also plenty of other hurdles that can make it harder to find and attract talent right now. Some fear exposure to COVID-19, either from an on-site interview, or in any role that requires them to leave their home. Others may be putting off their job search until the job market improves.

In this guide, you’ll find ideas on how to make your business stand out to job seekers during the pandemic:

You can also join the conversation on Indeed’s Employer Community about how COVID-19 has affected your business.

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Offer hourly wage increases or bonuses

COVID-19 has forced many companies to cut wages. But if you’re struggling to attract the right candidates, you may want to consider raising hourly wages or offering signing bonuses as a way to stand out.

The median hourly wage for nonmedical essential jobs (e.g., grocery workers, delivery drivers, cleaners) has already risen nearly 2%. Starbucks, for instance, issued a temporary pay bump of $3 more per hour for some workers between March 21 and May 31. Grocery chain Kroger recently offered one-time bonuses of $400 for full-time workers and $200 for part-time workers.

Along with providing an extra incentive for people to apply, offering a pay raise or bonus can show candidates that your company puts its employees first — which can help build a positive workplace culture.

Looking for more advice during the COVID-19 crisis? Join the Employer Community.

Reach out to candidates that are #readytowork now

Instead of waiting for job seekers to apply to your job postings, you can also search for candidates who are willing to start work right away using Indeed Resume’s new “#readytowork” filter.

With this new feature, job seekers who are actively looking for work during the pandemic can add the hashtag #readytowork to the resume in their Indeed profile to indicate their immediate availability. Once you find a #readytowork candidate who’s a good match for your open role, all you have to do is reach out to them to set up an interview.

An Indeed Employer Community contributor Sonic350 reported that #readytowork candidates are typically more responsive than other candidates: “I have had better results by searching for candidates with the #readytowork option. It hasn’t resulted in the greatest turnaround, but they have been the only interviews I have been able to schedule.”

Related: How Indeed Can Support a Digital Hiring Process

Update job postings to reflect your COVID-19 action plan

Reassure candidates that their health and safety is a priority by specifying what new procedures your business is following to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 (e.g., social distancing rules, staggered shifts, reduced customer capacity, face mask policy, enhanced cleaning procedures).

Another way to encourage more candidates to apply is to be completely transparent about your interview process. Can the entire interview process happen remotely, or will candidates be required to interview in-person at some point? For on-site interviews, explain how you’re maintaining a safe interview environment (e.g. socially distanced interviews, avoiding handshakes, symptom questionnaires, temperature checks). Here’s some sample language you can use to describe your interview process:

  • [Option 1: If on-site interviews are necessary] The safety of our candidates and employees is our top priority. If you are selected, you will be contacted for a [phone or video screen], which could then be followed by a formal on-site interview. [Company name] follows social distancing guidelines for all in-person interviews, as well as [list of other health and safety precautions].
  • [Option 2: If your interview process is entirely remote] The safety of our candidates and employees is our top priority. Due to COVID-19, our entire interview process will take place remotely. If you are selected, all of your interviews will be conducted virtually via [phone or video].

Adopt perks that support mental, physical and emotional health

To compete with higher-than-usual unemployment benefits, consider offering some added benefits or unique perks that will appeal to workers during the pandemic. For example, providing mental health resources (e.g., online therapy sessions, meditation apps) is a great way to set yourself apart and show your commitment to employee well-being.

Given the heightened concerns around physical health, financial well-being and childcare responsibilities, some other ideas for perks (either temporary or permanent) could include: access to telemedicine services, expanded paid sick leave, financial wellness programs and child care assistance. Target, for instance, is giving all of its employees access to backup family care benefits during COVID-19.

You can also try unique, one-off perks to improve “quarantine life,” including:

  • Grocery delivery stipends
  • Memberships to streaming services like Netflix or Spotify
  • Subscriptions to online fitness classes
  • Free snack boxes
  • Reimbursement for remote working expenses (e.g., laptop, Wi-Fi, desk)


Highlight long-term career growth opportunities

An unemployment check is only temporary. In fact, the federal government’s $600 weekly unemployment boost is currently set to expire at the end of July. Show candidates that a job at your business can offer long-term stability that extends well beyond the government’s expiration date.

To help candidates recognize the temporary nature of collecting unemployment, highlight the long-term growth opportunities available at your company. Consider outlining typical career tracks or providing specific examples of how people have advanced their careers. Here is some sample language you can include with your job descriptions:

  • “Most of our [role title]s started out as [role title]s — we primarily hire from within.”
  • “We offer real career growth opportunities — top performers are promoted to salaried positions. We have multiple team members who have advanced to [role title]s.”
  • “At [Company name], there is plenty of opportunity for job advancement. For example, we prefer to hire internally for [role title], [role title] and [role title].”

Hiring during a pandemic is enough of a challenge, even without taking into account job seekers who may be making more money without jobs than with them. But with these ideas in mind, you can set yourself up to attract more candidates, make the right hires and get back to business as soon as possible.

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