All the ways COVID-19 has actually helped hiring

To say the least: This year has been a challenging year for everyone.

Back in March, the novel coronavirus changed the way we live and the way in which we think about work. Masks became as common as a shirt in public and standing six-feet-apart isn’t just something for a TSA check-in. In June, the Black Lives Matter movement took the spotlight to shine a light on ignored diversity issues stemming from police brutality.

Those issues extended to the workplace, with diversity finally the focus for companies moving forward to include more people from different backgrounds.

Work, in general, has been very different. The dream work-from-home life has become permanent for many. It’s created a yearning for off-whites of office walls and corny team bonding activities.

New challenges like staying productive, juggling families with remote learning in place, and separating work and life continue to be something every professional struggles to grasp with.

While unemployment hit historic new highs similar to the Great Recession in 2009, we’re beginning to see just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way companies go about hiring.

A new study released by talent assessment software company Criteria crunched the numbers and looked at several areas of hiring in the US. The annual survey, which is in its fourth year, was released earlier in October and revealed a few interesting insights into who is hiring and why.

The coronavirus pandemic created a flurry of worry for job security. Record numbers of people filed for unemployment and companies were forced to rethink the way they hire.

Fifty-one percent of companies were forced to reduce hiring, while 36% froze hiring entirely. Nearly a third — 30% — had either laid off or furloughed employees, while almost a quarter were forced to freeze budgets.

As for hiring practices, the report said that hiring growth is slow, but it is trending in the right direction. Respondents said that they expect to hire 1.4% more employees in the next 12 months. That number might appear low, but it’s a small step to adding more people to the workforce.

Technology anticipated the most growth in hiring volume of any industry, with an anticipated growth of 64% more people in the next 12 months. Finance expects to add around 22% more people, while staffing, health, and manufacturing were all anticipating adding more people.

However, industries like construction, real estate, education, and retail anticipated cuts coming. Construction anticipated a 30% decrease in the coming year.

How companies are hiring

If you haven’t buffed up your resume in the past few months, it might be time.

Ninety-one percent of respondents said they use resumes as the benchmark for hiring a candidate, while 85% relied on in-person interviews and 82% said they use pre-employment tests to make their decisions.

Video interviews were way up — 159% compared to 2019 — largely due to the ongoing pandemic and the inability to safely interview a client in person. Drug tests were also down compared to last year.

Hiring easier now than before?

In some ways, yes.

Finding the right candidate for a job was a challenge in 2019. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said finding high quality job candidates was difficult, but that number dropped significantly this year (68%). The hiring process itself has become more easier, per respondents, as has reducing employee turnover.


Thirty-two percent of respondents said diversity was at the top of their list. Fields such as education, technology, and insurance placed an emphasis on hiring from diverse backgrounds, while larger companies anticipate to prioritize diversely more than smaller companies.

While it is a small step in the right direction, 34% of respondents said that it remains somewhat challenging to improvise diversity and inclusion in the workplace.