The hiring landscape has significantly changed since March, but certain industries are attracting more job applications than before.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 dealing devastating blows to the UK economy, it comes as no surprise that the number of people in employment dropped by 730,000 between March and July this year. In fact, the current unemployment rate is estimated at 4.8%, 0.9 percentage points higher than last year.

But with masses of job cuts, particularly within the retail, hospitality and travel sectors, people are seeking new work opportunities within the few industries that are continuing to hire at scale.

Which industries are in demand?

With more and more people now depending on online shopping and delivered goods, companies within the transport and logistics industries are expanding their workforces in order to keep up with rising demand.

Online retailer Amazon has already taken on thousands of new workers, while planning to fill another 7,000 supply chain jobs, and a further 20,000 roles to cover this year’s Christmas rush.

As you can imagine, there’s also been a surge in demand for key workers to help fight the impact of the virus, including public health care and social care. Furthermore, jobs that are primarily IT and digital focused, such as web programming, engineering, and graphic design, are seeing a steep rise in demand – and these were areas that suffered skills shortages even before the pandemic.

However, even with new job opportunities being created, there’s still just not enough to go around. Companies are receiving thousands of applications for jobs which would only have attracted a handful of applicants before the pandemic, and the average application-to-job ratio has risen by 84%.

The role of employee background checking

Employee background checking, as fundamental as it is to organisations, is often a point of friction in the recruitment process. The lack of a proper background checking process can have a big impact on time-to-hire, which is not good news for the companies trying to deal with an influx of new job applications during the pandemic.

If you’re noticing a sizeable increase in job applications, you need to be prepared to manage the background checking process effectively. We’ve taken a closer look at four key factors to consider:

1. A strong integration between your HR and background checking systems

Your HR and background checking systems must be tightly integrated for you to gain the most out of both. One benefit of robust integration is the ability to more easily automate key processes.

Automation is becoming increasingly pervasive within HR as it enables teams to reduce the burden of manual workload and get back valuable time to focus on more strategic activities. What’s more, strong integration allows data to be shared between systems in real-time allowing, for example, employee records to be updated automatically. This helps reduce errors and significantly improves data accuracy.

Another great example of integration is connecting an organisation’s applicant tracking system (ATS) to its background checking system, which helps improve visibility into the progress of different applicants as they are screened.

2. Conduct only the most efficient set of background checks

If you’re continuing to hire at scale, you need to ensure only the most essential set of backgrounds checks are being undertaken for each candidate. Your recruitment or background checking function needs to pinpoint exactly which checks are required for which vacancies. In doing so, you avoid conducting any unnecessary checks that can subsequently lead to a waste of time and money.

Conducting efficient background checks is always essential, but with an increasing number of individuals looking for work in industries completely new to them, you need to be sure that applicants have attained the qualifications they say they have. With airline pilots being reskilled as Tesco delivery drivers, and the increasing demand for health workers, combined with the soaring number of applicants trying to secure the same role, you must feel confident that you’re hiring the right people.

3. Complete security and compliance throughout the process

The importance of security and compliance within recruitment – and HR in general – goes without saying. With such a vast amount of regulations to adhere to, including the all-important GDPR, total compliance and data security is key.

It’s also vital to know which background checks to conduct for each role. If you don’t conduct the necessary checks, or if you conduct too many checks that aren’t required, you could find your business in trouble with the law. Compliance breaches impact an organisation’s credibility and reputation – not to mention the heavy fines that can be incurred. Don’t fall foul of regulations by ensuring your software and processes can provide total compliance and security.

4. Extra consideration of the candidate experience

With COVID-19 leaving a remarkably high number of people out of work, and in many cases with little to no warning, emotions and stress levels will be high. As such, it’s vital to be extra considerate of the candidate experience you’re offering.

There are a couple of things to recognise in order to accomplish this. Firstly, your recruitment processes must allow you to be responsive and agile. Many candidates are worried and are looking to get back into work as quickly as possible, so rapid responses are a must. Secondly, you must be able to provide a personalised, professional experience.

This can all be achieved by not only harnessing automation in your recruitment processes, but also using a dedicated background checking team to deal with queries on behalf of the HR team, enabling you to respond more quickly to applicants. This combination can help create a personalised, responsive background checking operation, which boosts the candidate experience – and therefore improves your chances of securing the best person for the job.

So, what does this all mean?

Recruitment can be an extremely time-consuming and challenging process under normal circumstances, and even more so during these uncertain times. And unfortunately, time is something businesses are struggling for as they adapt to a new working world.

However, in order to successfully manage such a surge in job applications, you need strong hiring and background checking processes. Processes which enable you to make the right hires as quickly and efficiently as possible, all while protecting the candidate experience.

Find out how our dedicated Zellis Background Checks team can work with you to help you make the best possible hiring decisions.