4 tips for helping jobseekers in this tough climate

With job seekers 'on their knees', HR Company Solutions MD Madelein Hendrick explains how employers can help.

With millions of South Africans losing their jobs during this pandemic, we have seen an increase of as much as 40 percent of candidates in the job market over the last eight weeks. 
One can understand the desperation in the tone of people who are unemployed in general, however, there is another, more serious and frightening desperation that we can see from people who write to us now and it is incredibly sad and depressing. 

Now more than ever we are supposed to keep a positive outlook on life and in our businesses, but this seems much harder as we feel overwhelmed to help, but realistically we cannot help everyone. 

So, what can companies do to make these emotional situations a little easier for the job seekers that are on their knees? Here are four tips. 

1 Train and coach your frontline 

As your busy receptionist is often the first point of contact, coach and train them on how to adequately deal with calls from job seekers. Let them be familiar with the recruitment policy of your company and where to direct job applications, instead of just brushing off the candidates.  Consider an email address that is dedicated to job applications and share this email address with job seekers. It will give them hope and possibly also help you to find the perfect unicorn that you might not have thought existed for your business.

2 Keep candidates informed as to the hiring processes

When candidates are not aware as to how long the hiring process may take, the levels of anxiety and impatience will most certainly rise. Companies must let candidates know what they’re in for when it comes to their applications – let them know if there are going to be three interviews and an assessment and let them know that hiring managers may not be available as soon as they would imagine, given the operational requirements during this pandemic. Let candidates know how long they can expect to wait for feedback and keep them informed along the way. This will avoid the constant follow-ups and ‘just checking in’ emails and calls that are received by hiring managers and HR personnel. We know you don’t have the time to reply to them all but maybe this could ease the process so that they don’t feel despondent when they don’t hear back from anyone!

3 Be empathetic towards desperate job seekers 

Job seekers will feel a lot more ‘at ease’ when they are shown some empathy from companies that they are applying to join. There are many people who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods during this time and it creates a huge amount of stress and anxiety.  A little bit of empathy goes a long way to ensuring that job seekers feel ‘human’ and that they are heard during this time of crisis.  It will alleviate some of the desperation that they feel while experiencing this ongoing crisis and give them a sense of importance as well.  Show that you understand what job seekers must be going through now.  Put yourself in their shoes for a moment – it is amazing what you will catch yourself thinking about.

4 Give job seekers constructive feedback

When they have applied for roles within your company and have not been successful, many job seekers are not tailoring their applications to the jobs that they can do and what they are qualified for.  They are performing what we call a ‘blanket’ approach to applications that cover just about every role available to them.  Let candidates know that they need to be more personal and selective when it comes to their job applications – it will get them closer to the top of the list of applicants and more likely to be noticed. Some constructive criticism goes a long way to helping a job seeker be better in the next application that they make. 

Encourage job seekers to take a step back and really examine the types of roles that they are applying for before just blindly applying for anything that pops up in their job alerts. It’ll give them the opportunity to really focus on the jobs that they qualify for and where their skills would most closely match with a vacancy, rather than keep them in a continual circle of applications without feedback and not knowing why they were not considered. 

Never ignore a job seekers application – even if they do not meet the requirements for the role you have, always respond.  A little bit of humility goes a long way to helping ease a job seeker’s feelings of being unworthy or not noticed in the current job market.  A simple ‘thank you for your application’ response with a valid reason as to why a candidate was not successful, will have far-reaching effects that are often unbeknown to companies. It will also remove the frustration that you feel by a persistent candidate checking in with you every day and help ease the stress on both ends of the spectrum. 

Using a recruiter to assist you with your recruitment process can be a tremendous help in ensuring that your company brand is always represented with professionalism, that your candidates are proficient for the job specifications and can be extremely beneficial to you in ensuring that responses are handled correctly and that your candidate pool is what you need.

Working towards a more positive future, the little things can have a huge impact in the hearts of desperate job seekers and we are all responsible for making that positive change a reality.