Like many other websites at the moment, the career-oriented networking platform LinkedIn has seen a big boost in traffic as a result of people being asked to work from home and stay indoors overall to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with a bump of 55% more conversational activity between existing connections in recent weeks.
From today and for the next three months, LinkedIn says it will provide free job postings for “essential” businesses globally — companies in healthcare, as well as warehousing, supermarket, freight delivery and nonprofits working in support or relief roles, in other words, those providing critical front-line services to keep the economy and society in motion. Healthcare will include companies working in areas like medical devices, medical practice (including hospitals) and mental health care.
Alongside this, LinkedIn is creating an “urgent jobs” board to give these openings more priority visibility. People whose skills match up with those needed for these jobs who visit LinkedIn’s jobs homepage will see the special listings highlighted. Those who sign up for job alerts with matching skills will in turn get real-time alerts of the jobs as they get posted.
The volunteer ads also link up with an expanded Recruiting for Good program to help bring in more people to work with nonprofits in both volunteer and paid roles. And those doing the recruiting will also get three months of free access to LinkedIn’s talent insights tools to figure out where their (free) ads are best placed around hiring trends and more.
Organizations that have already signed up to use these include the American Red Cross of Los Angeles, the CommonSpirit Health hospital network, Doctors on Demand and New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The new initiatives underscore the bigger trend of how tech companies are looking to provide whatever assistance they can bring to the table in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
(Others include Google, which is trying to help with testing, while also providing a landing page for official and local information, while both Facebook and Twitter are trying to stamp out fake news while surfacing links to official organizations for help.)
Recruitment — which has traditionally been LinkedIn’s biggest revenue generator (as part of Microsoft, it does not regularly report financials on its business lines) — has been in an interesting position within that.
On the one hand, recruitment and its counterpart, employment, have been two of the essential levers in fighting this pandemic.
On the clinical front, hospitals and related care organizations are scrambling to keep up with the surge in demand for their services, leading to major recruitment drives to bring in people with relevant experience, in some cases going straight to the ranks of those who may have left the profession and now are being asked to step in again.
In the U.K., for example, some 4,500 doctors and nurses have so far answered an open call to come back into medical service (many will have moved on to other non-clinical or managerial roles in the NHS, or left the public sector, or the profession altogether, not just retired due to age), with more likely to come. And that’s just on the clinical front.
We’re seeing a multitude of call outs across other sectors, like technology, to bring in experts in AI and other areas to help design software and hardware to slow the spread of the virus, to alleviate some of the side effects, to identify it faster and maybe even to potentially cure it.
In another vein, the closures of restaurants and public places has put a big shift on to supermarkets and other food providers to beef up their work forces to meet their rising demands. That’s meant that while many people have lost their old jobs due to closures, they are getting opportunities to redeploy elsewhere.
(The same goes for the collective groundswell of people who have emerged as volunteers to help others who are in need, with hundreds of thousands volunteering to help deliver medications or other essential tasks to supplement the work of front-line healthcare providers.)
On another level, beyond addressing the pandemic in a direct way, employment and recruitment have become something of a canary in the coal mine when it comes to assessing how different sectors and the economy overall is faring, and how it will look when the pandemic starts to subside.
We’ve charted some notable developments of hiring freezes, layoffs and furloughs in the tech world already — as well as hiring boosts for those suddenly finding their businesses in huge demand — and the same thing is playing out across other sectors, a trend LinkedIn, as one of the bigger recruitment portals in the world, is well-positioned to see.
“The trend as the virus moves through the world has been a decline in job posts,” said Blake Barnes, LinkedIn’s head of careers and talent solutions. “It’s a pattern we saw starting in China with the first wave of the pandemic.” Positively, he noted that “we have also seen that recovery brings growth as well.”
For now, LinkedIn has set some criteria in place to tailor eligibility. For example, nonprofit organizations that want to be a part of the Recruiting for Good program need to be U.S. 501c3 registered (or the global equivalent), providing disaster response or services for COVID-19 relief.
Hospitals that want to be a part of the Recruiting for Good program (but not for the general critical recruitment drive) need to be in critical areas of coronavirus outbreak (based on impact data) and understaffed and in need of urgent clinical front-line workers for COVID-19 response.
Over time, there will likely be more types of businesses added to the mix of “essential” companies (for example, as a car parts company retools to become a ventilator maker) and nonprofits over time, and also more evolutions in how job ads get seen by people. The main point was to deploy quickly to start work as soon as possible.
“We are keeping a close eye on the situation, but we have already seen a critical talent shortage,” said Barnes. “We’re starting with the obvious companies, but we’re getting these tools to market where they are most needed. But things change every single day, so we’ll be assessing in real time to understand how different sectors are evolving and changing.”