What Campus Recruiters Are Saying About Job Application Volume in 2021
Digging into job application volume and other 2021 campus recruiting trends
As employers approach the end of 2021, we’ve heard about several trends across industries and geographies for all Campus Recruiting teams. For example, 2021 was one of the most competitive years for companies to get offers accepted. Also, EID programs are gaining in popularity in an effort for businesses to attract diverse talent earlier in their education. But one specific trend had us really wanting to dive in: campus recruiting teams have told us that they’ve been seeing fewer job applications per job in 2021 than in prior years, especially when it comes to applications on school job boards, or attendance to university career fairs and info sessions. After hearing this several times over the last few weeks, we decided to do some research, ask the experts, and dig in.
Here are the four common themes we’ve heard:
(1) Hiring Volume
Hiring has increased for most companies in 2021 - more open positions are posted, which is great news as the country bounces back from pandemic shutdowns. Many employers are hiring even more than they did in 2019, but the size of the student talent market submitting job applications has not grown enough to keep up with the increase in the number of early-career requisitions. As a result of so many more open roles, each job is getting fewer applicants.
(2) Market Competition
In 2020, the job market was so much more competitive for internships and entry-level roles given how many companies imposed hiring freezes and canceled their internship programs. Many students and recent grads read the subsequent media coverage, heard about the competitive market from recruiters or career service centers, and therefore felt more pressure to submit more job applications. This year, candidates can be a little more selective about the roles they choose to apply to, and many feel that they don’t have to apply to as many jobs to get hired as they did in 2020. Several employers have shared with us that they’ve noticed a shift in campus recruiting patterns - students and new grads who would typically job hunt via campus recruitment programs no longer need to rely on this method since some employers can more easily directly connect with students and own the relationships themselves.
(3) Campus Recruiting Timelines
In 2021, the July / August / September surge in Fall campus recruiting was at an all-time-high. In 2020, a lot of companies pushed back their Fall campus recruiting by a couple months due to pandemic-related uncertainty. It took many employers several extra weeks or months to gain an understanding of how to build their campus recruiting and hiring plans in a mostly-remote environment. Once they were ready to start hiring using a new remote-first strategy, campus recruiters were working with both faster timelines and a sudden influx of job applications.
(4) Geographic Mobility
Many candidates have gotten the taste of the virtual or remote-friendly life, and aren’t looking back. In 2020, almost all companies with non-essential employees switched to being virtual, which allowed for more candidates from across the country to submit job applications. Now, for companies who have switched to requiring people to come back into the office, there are just fewer people interested in that lifestyle, as many candidates are interested in continuing to work from home (“WFH”), at least for a few days per week. Meanwhile, companies with no geographic barrier to their roles are not being hit by the downturn in job applications nearly as strongly.
How Can Campus Recruiting Teams Adapt?
There are several approaches agile employers can take to try to adapt to this downturn in job applications.
Job Descriptions: Consider what your true “must have” criteria are for your positions, vs. your “nice to have”. Often, those are not the same thing, and the qualifications-section of your job description(s) may end up turning off candidates more than you’d like. Fortunately, WayUp has fantastic analytics to help you with this!
Early Identification Programs: EID programs can make for great ways to bring in talent ahead of your competitors. Companies like Citi will host short-term programs over the summer or spring, helping educate students in their Freshmen or Sophomore years, and then often converting those participants into interns or full-time employees.
Employment Brand: It’s important you stand out and convert as many job description viewers into job applicants. Employment branding can do just that.
Smart Sourcing: If you partner with companies like WayUp, we can use machine learning to send out messages to higher intent or higher quality (and diverse, of course!) candidates to ensure your roles are being seen by the right qualified and diverse talent. Gone are the days of posting and hoping for diverse and qualified talent to just find you and submit a job application.
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