As more and more Americans receive their COVID-19 vaccines, mask mandates are loosening across the country and many businesses have reopened with few restrictions. Meanwhile, there’s been an interesting trend in the labor market: the rise of job postings indicating hiring is urgent. 

Why are urgent job postings up, and what does this mean for employers and job seekers? To learn more, we spoke with Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel about her research on the state of urgent jobs

What are the key findings?

We first looked at the share of Indeed job postings that indicated hiring was urgent, which are defined as jobs with terms such as “hiring urgently,” “urgent hire,” “immediate start,” “urgent vacancy” or “start today” in their job descriptions. We found that urgent hiring has accelerated when compared to the beginning of this year. In the seven days leading up to May 14, 2021, some 2.3% of job postings on Indeed indicated hiring is urgent — up from 1.6% on January 1, 2021. 

So what types of roles do these urgent job postings tend to be? Jobs that need to be filled quickly are more likely to be in sectors where the current demand for labor is above prepandemic baselines. This includes sectors such as loading & stocking, which have seen increased hiring demand recently compared to before the pandemic. 

What’s particularly interesting, according to AnnElizabeth, is that “urgent hiring is happening across sectors” — rather than only in sectors such as food preparation & service and hospitality & tourism, which we tend to hear more about in the media. In fact, more than 4% of job postings in the personal care & home health, childcare, nursing, and cleaning & sanitation sectors indicate hiring is urgent, compared to less than 2% of job postings in the food preparation & service and hospitality & tourism sectors. Shares of urgent hiring postings were also above 4% in the driving and construction sectors, likely due to increased online shopping in the last year as well as the housing boom. 

Last, sectors that are hiring urgently are more likely to have employees work on site. This could mean employers looking to fill in-person positions are feeling the pressure when it comes to hiring, which suggests that job seekers still have concerns about health and may not yet be comfortable working in person.   

What does this mean for employers?

For employers, the rise in urgent job postings points to a growing demand for workers. As more people receive vaccinations and return to prepandemic activities such as dinners out and traveling, employers in certain sectors will need workers in order to keep up with consumer demand. 

At the same time, employers should be mindful of the labor workforce, which has been profoundly affected by the pandemic and policy responses. Many workers are not yet ready to find work due to difficulty finding childcare or fear of getting infected. In some cases, the availability of extended unemployment benefits may also play a role, though it’s likely a much more minor reason compared to childcare and pandemic worries. 

Employers can take some steps to combat this and increase their chances of filling vacancies. First, it’s important for employers who are hiring urgently to support workers by offering flexibility with worker schedules. After all, “childcare facilities are not back to normal,” says AnnElizabeth.  Many workers with children can benefit greatly from leaving a bit earlier or coming in a bit later, especially since many childcare facilities have had to reduce hours and availability due to difficulty finding childcare workers. 

In addition, employers hiring for urgent jobs can also offer hiring incentives to attract job seekers, such as a sign-on bonus. “The share of jobs that advertise hiring incentives is up, so employers are definitely trying to look at different ways to attract job seekers,” says AnnElizabeth. This could motivate more workers — who may still be recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic — to apply to your jobs. 

Last, we found that jobs that indicate hiring is urgent are more likely to be on site, which could put off job candidates who are afraid of getting infected with COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to family members. Therefore, for employers who are hiring urgently for on-site positions, it’s important to clearly convey what your workplace is doing in regards to COVID safety and what steps you’re taking to keep employees healthy. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides some advice on how to do this:

  • Give employees paid time off to get their COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Instruct all workers who have been in close contact with infected individuals or show signs of infection to stay home.
  • Implement social distancing in work areas when possible.
  • Provide unvaccinated and at-risk workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, surgical masks or respirators, depending on what the job calls for. 
  • Maintain a well-ventilated environment, especially when working indoors. 
  • Clean and disinfect facilities and public spaces thoroughly and often.

What does this mean for job seekers?

The rise in urgent hiring could signal that coronavirus risk still matters to many job seekers. Job seekers should make sure to ask about how companies or employers are implementing COVID-19 safety measures or learn more about the company’s policies around flexibility. 

For job seekers, the rise in urgent hiring could also work in their favor by presenting an opportunity to more easily find a job in certain sectors compared to prepandemic times. In AnnElizabeth’s words, “Because there’s this accelerating demand for labor, it gives job seekers a little more leverage.”

In fact, the share of searches for hiring incentives is up. Job seekers know they have some leverage and are trying to look for the best opportunity for them, rather than accepting the first job they can get. 

Urgent job postings point to a growing demand for workers and potential opportunities for job seekers. As we emerge from the pandemic, we will continue to keep an eye on urgent job postings and see how this trend plays out.