April CandE Pulse Research: The Recruiting Yo-Yo Knows No Bounds

Whether it’s a soft landing or not, one thing is clear: recruiting today is bouncing upping and down like a yo-yo in this topsy-turvy job market.

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May 8, 2024

Economists agree: the job market continues to bifurcate into more demand for skilled workers and less for knowledge workers. In April, total employment rose by 175,000, which was below the estimates of 240,000, and the unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9% from 3.8% in March.

Healthcare continues to drive a big part of the monthly job growth. In our latest CandE Pulse research from April from over 100 responses, healthcare, finance & insurance, and technology (believe it or not) is where most of the hiring is happening.

Unfortunately, the lack of demand for knowledge workers continues to impact talent acquisition professionals. I was just talking with some smart industry experts, Anna Morgan and Kyle Lagunas, about where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re going in recruiting, something we will discuss at our ERE Recruiting Conference May 14-16. No matter what, it’s been quite the journey since 2019, that’s for sure.

Pre-covid in 2019, which feels like over 1,000 years ago, was a resilient hiring candidate market, with TA burnout already on the rise.

Then came 2020. COVID-19 hit, social and racial inequity and injustice tensions ran high, economic devastation abounded, and millions were out of work, all of which impacted everything personally, professionally, and existentially. We found that in our CandE Benchmark Research that year, employers were put into forced transparency when they had to increase their empathetic communication. And (believe it or not) candidates were more forgiving.

Then frenetic hiring ramped up in 2021, as did candidate resentment (candidates who said they had a horrible candidate experience) and employees quit in record numbers.

Then the economy and hiring softened in 2022, and all that demand shriveled like a flower on a hot summer’s day. Unemployment stayed low, but inflation was high and layoffs increased.

Recession uncertainty continued through 2023, and wallah, here we are in 2024 with stubborn inflation, low unemployment, some resilient industries like healthcare, and knowledge worker (and recruiter) demand fading. It’s possible that it’s still a soft economic landing this year into next, maybe not, but recruiting itself is a yo-yo like never before

Latest CandE Pulse: April 2024

As we do each year in our benchmark research, and now monthly in our CandE Pulse surveys, we again highlight how employers self-rate their own recruiting and candidate experience and whether or not their leading, competing, improving, or lagging. Of the over 100 responses in April, those who said they were lagging increased slightly, and those who said they were improving also increased slightly (see figure below).

Those who said they were competing bounced back up by 13%, from 45% to 51%, and those who said they were leading dropped back down again by 36%, from 36% to 23%. Yes, these are self-ratings and subjective, and they are a different mix of employers each month, but we definitely prefer employer confidence in competing and leading to remain stable or increase. Of course, there’s constant volatility, and the proof is always in the candidate experience ratings themselves.

Self-Rating Recruiting and Candidate Experience

April CandE Survey Results


Recruiting Technologies That Help

In March, we started asking the question: What recruiting technology systems are employers using that help them the most with their candidate communications, scheduling, and feedback (and include email, texting, messaging, etc.)?

Recruiting technologies that help employers with candidate communications, scheduling, and feedback are critical to recruiting and hiring, and in April, the top 10 included (with many ties):

  1. Workday Recruiting
  2. Teams/Zoom/Google Meet/Slack
  3. BambooHR
  4. Oracle (Taleo)
  5. Dayforce
  6. iCIMS
  7. Dalia, Greenhouse, SAP SuccessFactors
  8., HireEZ, UKG
  9. Beamery, HireVue
  10. Yello

When we filter the data by those who said they were competing and leading in their recruiting and candidate experience delivery, the top 10 shifts a bit, but includes many of the same providers:

  1. Workday Recruiting
  2. Teams/Zoom/Google Meet/Slack
  3. BambooHR
  4. Oracle (Taleo)
  5. Dayforce
  6. Dalia, iCIMS
  7. SAP SuccessFactors
  8. Greenhouse, UKG
  9., HireEZ
  10. HireVue, Yello

It will be interesting to see how this trended month to month going forward. It’s important to note that this is based on those employers that responded and that will respond going forward. Plus, we can’t tie these self-assessed results to our candidate benchmark ratings, at least not yet. In 2025, we’ll start tracking that.

What were April’s recruiting priorities If the above recruiting technologies were how TA teams delivered recruiting and candidate communications? This is something we’ve asked our CandE Community and beyond in our CandE Pulse surveys since January 2023. For the fifth month in a row now, screening and interviewing has been the number one CandE Pulse recruiting priority. This has been a big area of focus for CandE Community employers for the past two years.

Recruiting events are again in the top five, validating that hiring may be anemic here and there, but it’s still happening with historically low unemployment. Plus, it’s college graduation time and university recruiting is revving up.

It’s also great that “candidate experience” remains in the top 5, back at #2. Priorities always fluctuate, and we’ve seen plenty of variation over the past year. This time, preboarding/onboarding came in at #3, which was tied with recruitment marketing, and the application process came in at #4. The application process comes and goes in the priorities, which may indicate new implementations or system optimizations, but for sure, process improvements.

Top 5 Recruiting and Hiring Priorities


As always, this is only the partial list of what we ask, and it’s clear that priorities can change. A lot. Every single month. Granted, it’s a different mix of employers responding to these surveys each month, but still a sample set of what the priorities currently are.

Again, our April CandE Pulse survey respondents represented over 100 employers. 56% were 500-100,000+ in total employee size. The top represented industries this month were healthcare, finance & insurance, technology, manufacturing, construction, education, consumer goods, services, and transportation.

In addition to asking what employers’ priorities are month after month, we also ask them how they are going to get all the work done. Out of the top five each month, the most regularly recurring one is “Improving Processes.” This makes sense since it is where companies should tackle priority improvement and implementation first and foremost.

The next regularly recurring activities in April were “Current Technologies” and “Current Staffing,” which also resonates with us and what we’ve heard from many in our CandE Community—that they are working hard to maximize and optimize their already thin teams and the tech investments they’ve made, just like in Q1 of this year.

But as you’ll see below, hiring continues to be higher, and recruiting teams are increasing (at least for those who responded). New technologies and candidate/employee experience survey feedback were also key to getting recruiting done for employers in April.

Candidate/employee survey feedback was again in the top five; we’re happy to see that. Employers need accurate and timely feedback data to improve their processes, including participating in our annual CandE Benchmark Research Program and considering investing in continuous candidate experience feedback with our survey partner, Survale.

Top 5 Ways to Get It All Done

April CandE Pulse respondents said they’ve been hiring, and it’s down again slightly but still consistently higher this year than at the end of last year. Laying off and freezing hiring are also up slightly. This doesn’t speak to the cooling BLS data, so we’ll have to see if our CandE Pulse data lags when we analyze May.

Hiring Status

All job type hiring (contract, entry-level, hourly, professional, and management) was down in April except for senior leadership. It’s important to note that the mix of employers responding to our CandE Pulse surveys does vary each month, and it’s not all net new hiring, but we’ll see if hiring cools further in May.

We also ask employers each month whether they’ve increased or decreased the size of their recruiting team. In March, recruiting team size increased dramatically like in January to 47%, and again has been higher on average since last fall. But in April, it’s down again 26%, and those who said their recruiting teams decreased was up slightly. Again, recruiting continues to be a yo-yo for those in the profession.

Increased or Decreased Recruiting Team Size


This is true of recruiting budgets as well. In April, respondents who said their budgets had increased actually decreased 43% from March, matching February’s percentage. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if there’s a greater trend beyond the yo-yo here since the responding companies change each month. This will be something we’ll continue to monitor as it impacts the ability for TA and their teams to get their recruiting and hiring work done.

Increased or Decreased Recruiting Budget

Overall, in our April CandE Pulse results, our key recruiting indicators were down but didn’t cool as much as the broader jobs report. It will be interesting to see what happens during the summer months and beyond because there’s still a lot of 2024 recruiting and hiring ahead of us. In fact, you can jump right in and answer our May CandE Pulse survey here.

Even brighter minds than mine don’t really know where we’re going in recruiting and hiring overall and as a profession, but at least we know where we’re at with still stubborn inflation, low unemployment, layoffs, employees staying up, some resilient industries like healthcare, and knowledge worker (and recruiter) demand fading (for now).

Sigh. The recruiting yo-yo knows no bounds.

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