September 9, 2020

5 factors to consider about job seeker hesitations during COVID-19.

7-minute read


  • Over half of the workforce in Canada is worried about contracting COVID-19 following their return to work, candidates are likely to have safety as an added consideration for their next opportunity.
  • Your targeted job ads might not be working as well as they used to, a few changes and additions can help set yours apart from the others.
  • Developing inviting job ads with transparency can help you attract more applicants.
  • The importance of company industry and reputation to job seekers is increasing as organizations previously thought to be stable and successful are reducing their workforce.
  • Leaving talks of work from home potential to the offer stages may do more harm than good as candidates are showing a preference for remote opportunities.


    With a significant portion of the Canadian workforce still unemployed (10.9% reported for this July, as compared to 5.6% last year) or on temporary layoff, you might expect to have a plentiful pool of qualified job seekers ready to apply. Unfortunately, you might have found this may not be the case.

    If your jobs are not seeing the traction you would expect or you are struggling to bring in quality candidates, it's not just you! During these uncertain times, job seekers have a lot more to consider when deciding on their next opportunity and it's important to keep these in mind for your recruitment efforts.

    Through countless conversations with candidates, our teams have had the opportunity to hear about their concerns directly from the source. Anxiety around impending layoffs, frustration after accepting an offer just to lose it a few weeks later, and uncertainty about staying safe in a new office are just a few of the concerns expressed by job seekers.

    We took a deep dive into what matters to job seekers since the start of COVID-19 and identified 5 potential hesitations one might have towards a new opportunity.

    1. Safety and uncertainty

    Although we’re not in the same place we were at the start of COVID-19, we’re still susceptible to exposure outside our homes. In the July update of the Statistics Canada labour force survey, 54% of respondents in Canada expressed concern about contracting COVID-19 at work and 31% about contracting it in transit. It’s not just our own well-being either, we can’t forget the additional fear of infecting family members. With the added predictions and uncertainty around a second wave, candidates have even more reason to be conscious of the safety measures in place with their next employer.

    Do we think job seekers would avoid or be hesitant about a job posting that doesn’t address safety measures? Why not eliminate that possibility?

    Combat this by ensuring organizational safety measures are clearly communicated and easily accessible to the public and consider including this information in the job ad. This could range from a breakdown of specific measures in place to simple reassurance that safety has been addressed in the workplace. Some companies have even created dedicated pages on their website about how they are ensuring the safety of their employees.

    2. WFH potential

    Despite any safety measures in place, it is also important to consider candidates who might not feel comfortable returning to an office. Those who were able to transition to work from home these past 6 months have had a much easier time avoiding exposure and are likely not wanting to return to the commute anytime soon. Following the onset of the emergency lockdown in March, Statistics Canada reported that nearly 4.7 million Canadians had shifted to remote working conditions; double those of who were already working from home. Although these rates have since dropped by 400k as offices started reopening in June, there are still more people reporting work from home than ever before.

    A recent study by VMWare revealed that over half of employees would prefer to continue working from home more than in the office after the pandemic resolves. These findings are consistent with the countless conversations we have with job seekers who frequently ask questions about our clients’ plans for opening their offices and whether there is any opportunity to work from home. Some passing on opportunities where this is not an option.

    Rather than leaving these conversations to the negotiation stage, now is the time to determine whether a position could succeed out of office and offer it up from the beginning. If only 1 or 2 days in the office would suffice, make it known rather than having candidates pass if they’re not open to commuting 5 days a week.

    3. Industry reputation

    Candidates are smarter and more conscious than ever. Although offices are opening, a recent survey revealed that 17% of companies in Canada are still expecting layoffs in the 3rd quarter of this year and we’re seeing it in the news with another 4 major corporations reporting large scale layoffs last month. If employers are aware of this, so are job seekers.

    A large portion of the labour market is made up of individuals coming from heavily affected industries who have had to reduce their workforce to stay afloat. These individuals will be seeking stability in their next opportunity. Our team talks to candidates daily and a common theme is their need for job security and the desire to enter an industry that can withstand the next worldwide pandemic.

    Combat this by knowing your industry and owning it. If your industry is known to be badly affected, be transparent about it. Expand your job ads beyond the usual responsibilities and qualifications to include long standing company history, new goals and objectives, and recent achievements. 

    4. Company brand and culture

    After having to let go a significant portion of the workforce, any company would expect some unhappy faces. Qualified candidates concerned about company culture and morale are likely to take the time to do their research. In starting up your recruit, it is increasingly important to consider what could be found in researching your brand. Would the results possibly turn a job seeker away? This pertains to, not only the company’s response to an unexpected pandemic, but their response to social issues as well.

    Transparency around relevant internal personnel or policy changes and demonstrating pride in organizational values can make a big difference in today’s economy.

    5. Labour force demographics

    If you are fortunate enough to be employed by one of the companies that haven’t been deeply affected by this years’ events, the portion of candidates coming from your industry is likely lower. A survey conducted by ADP this year revealed an increase in company loyalty due to their response to the pandemic – 47% of people on temporary layoff are expected to return to work. It will take extra incentive to convince these candidates to make a move if they are happy with their organization’s response to the pandemic.

    Although it is desirable to bring on employees with industry experience and potentially simplify the training process, considering transferable skills from other industries is a great way to attract more candidates. Those in more specialized positions looking to switch industries, such as the 5k Flight Attendants who have been out of work since March, are likely to be equipped with valuable skills such as customer service, communication, and conflict resolution. Although a Flight Attendant may not have experience processing invoices, they do have the attention to detail developed from monitoring safety and working out of different time zones to learn the necessary steps involved. With a job market where competition is known to be high, a candidate looking at a posting with specific experiences, systems, or industry requirements that they don’t meet could easily be discouraged thinking they won’t stand out among those who do.

    Ads tailored to the position in question are great for targeting qualified applicants, so why not target different types of applicants with less specific experience? Try identifying key transferable skills for your role along with where they could be found in other positions and industries. If your team would be open to a background in hospitality, targeting these individuals with a more inviting ad will connect you with a whole other pool of applicants. A strong candidate with the right attitude can be your next superstar with just a bit of training and support!

    Either way, being more transparent and open with the current community of job seekers will only benefit you in the long run. And, if you don’t have the bandwidth to make these changes, consider reaching out to our team to learn about how we can help. Our customizable support allows you to stay within budget and gain assistance where you need it most. When it comes to bringing in candidates, we monitor the amount and suitability of applicants, tailoring all job ads to the current needs of job seekers. 

    You might like:

    Remote onboarding: setting up new hires for success from a distance.

    Whether it be in the office or remote, ensuring a positive experience for new hires and a smooth integration into the company is fundamental to their success. A strong onboarding program has been found to improve both retention and productivity of new hires.
    Published: 4 months ago
    11-minute read

    What is Ontario Bill 18 and why is it important?

    Although Bill 18 has been in effect for 2 years now, it is not widely known. As an organization partnering with a staffing agency, the implications of this bill are vital to understanding your role and responsibility as hosting client to a temporary workforce.
    Published: 3 months ago
    5-minute read

    Contact Us

    Curious to learn more?
    Let's connect.

    Get in touch