Millions of Americans lost their jobs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two and a half years later, the labor market is in a very different state. There are now more job vacancies than before the pandemic. With an unemployment rate near a 50-year low and talks of an imminent recession, how can talent acquisition professionals tailor their strategies for success in the last quarters of 2022?

First, let’s look at the current state of the US economy: MicrosoftTeams-image (48)-1

Inflation is measured by comparing the current prices of a set of goods and services to previous prices. It is usually indicated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In the US, the inflation rate has risen to 9.1% in July 2022, the highest it has been since November of 1981. Unfortunately, this means consumers must shell out more of their money for food, gasoline, and utilities. 

What’s more, two-thirds of American workers say their salaries are not keeping pace with inflation, and the percentage of employees considering quitting their jobs is at a four-year high, according to a new CNBC survey. Experts say the job-hopping trend is not slowing down for now, as employees keep seeking higher salaries and better benefits. 

However, the US reported a decrease in GDP (gross domestic product, the amount produced and sold by the country) for the first two quarters of 2022. This prompted many economic experts to point to a possible recession, which could hurt small businesses and cause the job-hopping trend to decelerate. Meanwhile, the strong and steady job growth of the last months has seemingly helped prevent a recession.  

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The US unemployment rate decreased to 3.5% in July 2022, the lowest since February 2020. This trend is consistent across the country, with all 50 states experiencing lower unemployment rates in June 2022 compared to June 2021. The number of job vacancies surpassed that of unemployed workers in September 2020 and has been on the rise since. The number of job openings in the US is 70% higher than before the COVID-19 crisis.  

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Labor market tightness has multiplied by nine since the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020.  The picture is clear: vacant jobs are plentiful and available workers are scarce. Low-skilled and high-skilled positions alike are increasingly hard to fill, as labor shortages are affecting virtually all primary industries.  

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Let’s take a closer look at how four US industries are faring. The numbers we published at the start of this year indicated an increasingly tight market, and this trend only intensified. Overall, despite small slumps, STEM, professional, healthcare and blue-collar occupations experienced a significant increase in tightness from January 2021 to June 2022.  

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How have recruiters responded? Since the start of 2022, most industries have kept their job ad spending relatively stable. Professional occupations have undergone a bigger increase in expenditure compared to other occupations since January 2022 on  

What does all this mean for HR & talent acquisition professionals?   

Similar to our tips and recommendations from our January report, here are five areas of your recruitment strategy to focus on for the rest of 2022. 

  • Do your research 

In a tight labor market, keep in mind that applicants likely have other options, so researching what your target candidates value and what is likely to attract them is more important than ever. Creating a candidate persona can be very helpful. In the spirit of staying informed and ready, remember to periodically check what your competition’s recruitment material looks like, so you have a good idea of what you’re up against. 

  • Provide a compelling candidate experience 

Always keep the candidate at the heart of your application process. Is your job easy to apply for? Are you sending emails to applicants, informing them of their status? Are you rejecting candidates graciously? Are you keeping silver-medalist candidates in your talent pool for future openings? Don’t be afraid to review your strategy and your tools and upgrade them if necessary. 

  • Focus on perks & benefits

With inflation reducing the average worker’s purchasing power, now is the time to put the spotlight on perks and benefits in your job postings and career page, on social media channels, and in interviews. Searching for a job can be financially stressful, so highlight the perks and benefits that can help employees save money (such as free snacks, team activities, gym memberships, etc.) 

  • Think long-term 

In this tight labor market, you want not only to attract but also keep employees, as turnover can be costly. A durable recruitment strategy focuses on honesty and retention. Being transparent about salary saves you time: your application volumes could decrease but candidate quality and chances of compatibility increase.  

  • Consider sponsoring your jobs 

It is now harder for companies to recruit and fill empty positions. Job seekers have more opportunities to pick from, which in turn translates to more power to negotiate. As seen above, recruiters across industries are increasing their job ad expenditures in order to increase the visibility of their jobs, stand out among the competition and reach as many qualified candidates as possible.  


Written in collaboration with Labor Economist Morgan Raux  


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