Recruiting Vendors Seek a Path as Labor Market Shifts

More than 45,000 workers at U.S. technology startups have lost their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic took over the news cycle in March. That’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that 20.5 million Americans overall applied for unemployment insurance in April alone. But it’s a data point worth considering.

When we talk about layoffs, we tend to fixate on size. The higher the number of people let go, the more attention the news gets. We forget that, very often, lots of little numbers add up to big ones. So, a dozen heads laid off here and two dozen released there can add up to real economic impact.

That matters in HR and recruiting technology. Where new products are often trailblazed by startups. Of those 45,000 tech workers laid off, according to the website, more than 2,000 came from HR or recruiting tech firms. Such as ZipRecruiter (400), Textio (30), Workable (25), and AngelList (20).

These casualties are part of a workforce whose unemployment rate stood at 14.7 percent in April. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of 10.3 percentage points from March. As TechCrunch points out, the labor market has gone from being candidate-driven to employee-driven.

Today, job seekers must “get what they can get.” Said Carolyn Betts of Betts Recruiting: “There’s so much talent in the market that there are backup candidates for backup candidates.”


HR Tech Shifting Priorities

Combined with a general slowdown in hiring, the deluge of candidates has shifted the priorities of talent acquisition teams. Several recruiting technology vendors say their customers are now focused on keeping relationships warm rather than closing deals.

They want to be ready to quickly onboard preferred candidates when the economy recovers. Others are rethinking their processes with an eye toward optimizing them before business returns to something like normal.

Vendors are keeping their options open by pursuing solutions for both employers, who now must sort through mountains of resumes, and candidates who must swim harder to even break the surface.


Adding New Automation Tools

Dice, for example, just launched a service that supplements its customers’ internal recruiters by sourcing and screening technology candidates. Dice Sourcing Services teams use the company’s TalentSearch to develop a shortlist of tech professionals who meet each customer’s requirements. That way, the customer’s staff can focus on relationship-building and strategic work.

Meanwhile, Lever added new automation tools as part of its spring release. The features include automated workflows designed to increase TA efficiency by addressing the labor market’s changing supply/demand ratios. They include automated screening questions and internal push notifications to trigger onboarding steps. The release also includes customizable candidate surveys and improved analytics.

Paradox closed a $40 million Series B round, which it will use to “expedite its vision.” The company markets an HR-centric “AI assistant” called Olivia that automates routine tasks such as screening resumes and scheduling interviews. In other words, it’s recruiting automation with enough promise to warrant serious investor attention—even as employers dance along the edge of a depression.

On the candidate side, CareerArc added a video tool to help seekers evaluate their soft skills and character traits. Through self-guided interviews, users gain insights that help them refine how they present themselves during interviews, on their resumes and while networking. The company said this “AI-powered psychometric technology” enables users to describe the value of their skills, something many candidates find difficult.


Doing Business

On the ground, the pandemic’s fallout is driving activity throughout the recruiting space. Some moves this week:

Upwork enhanced its enterprise capabilities to help large companies identify and hire contingent workers. The new features are designed to simplify the tasks involved with centrally managing a remote workforce and accessing talent at the same time.

Dice released a new “remote jobs” classification for use in the U.S. The filter makes it easier for candidates to identify remote roles, using a simple keyword search.

ServiceMax and Krios announced a global job board centered on field-service professionals. The ServiceMax Field Service Finder is designed to help organizations find qualified workers for both full-time and short-term roles.

Alvius, owner of the talent-matching platform TalentPool, acquired UK Startup Jobs for an undisclosed sum. Founded in 2011, UK Startup Jobs is a community of 10,000 job seekers.

Mark Feffer

Mark Feffer is executive editor of RecruitingDaily and the HCM Technology Report. He’s written for TechTarget, HR Magazine, SHRM, Dice Insights, and TalentCulture, as well as Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Staffing Industry Analysts. He likes schnauzers, sailing and Kentucky-distilled beverages.