Recruiters Faced Highs and Lows in 2022

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer December 26, 2022
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​The post-pandemic hiring recovery continued in 2022, characterized by intense hiring demand, fierce competition for talent and retention worries. Recruiters had to deal with an often paradoxical labor market, but immigration to the United States rebounded from the pandemic shutdown, helping fill critical roles. Global jobs site Indeed made a pivotal decision, and a new version of the Form I-9 was announced.

Here is a roundup of headlines from the recruiting world in 2022.

Recruiting in 2022

Turnover remained elevated all year, providing talent acquisition professionals with a stellar opportunity to lure talent to the organization and to play a more critical part in retaining that talent. Leading predictors of turnover included toxic culture, job insecurity, burnout, lack of recognition and a poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facing talent scarcity, internal mobility and skills-based hiring took on greater importance, and the employee experience was refitted to meet candidate expectations.

Onboarding was reimagined to better retain new talent, especially in virtual and remote environments.

The ultra-tight labor market boosted recruiters' value for most of the year, and employers faced the challenge of recruiting recruiters. That trend abated in the last quarter of the year as the jobs market started to slow down and companies began announcing layoffs.

One of the biggest recruiting trends of the year was the drive for pay transparency in job listings.

New York City's Wage Transparency Law went into effect on Nov. 1, making it mandatory for employers to share the salary or hourly wage in job postings. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, California- and Washington-based companies with 15 or more workers must disclose salary ranges or wages for open roles. For years, polls have shown that job seekers want to see what a job pays before they apply. A recent report found that advertising pay ranges in job postings—specifically in the title—also cuts recruiting costs.

In October, Indeed announced one of the biggest shifts in job advertising in years. The dominant pay-per-click jobs board will be migrating to a pay-per-application pricing model in 2023. Employers will pay only when a candidate starts or submits an application, rather than when they click on a job ad as is currently the case. Pay-per-click pricing will no longer be an option once the transition is completed.

The change should improve candidate quality. Employers will pay more for the upgraded experience, because the value of a legitimate candidate is higher than that of lots of unidentified clicks, but in the long run, the aim is that pay-per-application will save employers money, as recruiters can zero in on more quality candidates faster.

An Unstable Economy

Recruiters had to navigate a perplexing labor market in 2022. Employers desperate to hire and retain talent were also planning layoffs and hiring freezes. Organizations addressing labor shortages were boosting pay and benefits to attract candidates while also taking steps to reduce headcount.

One persistent question was "Is the economy in a recession?" The question was difficult to answer given the myriad indicators that make up the nation's economic outlook. Some components of the economy remained strong, including low unemployment and rising wages. Job openings and the number of workers quitting remained elevated, while layoffs stayed low until the last months of the year.

Inflation was another key factor, which caused disruptions across the economy. But as the year drew to a close, employers continued to hire in big numbers (263,000 new jobs in November); the unemployment rate settled at 3.7 percent; and in another blow to the Federal Reserve's anti-inflation efforts, average hourly earnings shot up well above expectations.

HR leaders are still concerned about a looming recession in 2023, and many are preparing to downsize.

Employment-Based Immigration Rebounds

Immigration to the U.S. rose significantly following a sharp drop during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most international travel restrictions were eased in 2022, including the U.S. COVID-19 testing mandate for inbound air travelers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in late October that it had awarded more than 275,000 employment-based green cards in fiscal year 2022, an increase from the typical annual sum of about 140,000. Temporary visas have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels but are significantly increased from 2021.

USCIS made efforts to work through tremendous processing backlogs exacerbated by the pandemic, which continue to cause delays for employers and workers. Actions included an expansion of premium processing to additional employment-based immigration applications and petitions; new internal backlog reduction goals; and an extension of expiring work permits, which are crucial to foreign workers and the organizations that employ them.

Eligible spouses of L-1 visa holders such as executives, managers and other professional staff who transfer within their company from abroad to an office in the U.S. were awarded automatic work authorization—instead of having to apply for it—beginning in April. The modification was made to address employment gaps due to paperwork processing delays when renewing applications for employment authorization needed for permission to work in the U.S.

Despite the actions, backlogs continued to cause excessive processing and wait times throughout 2022.

The Biden administration's plans to reform the H-1B visa program for professional foreign workers—including raising the wages of those workers—was put off to 2023. The flurry of workforce layoffs at high-profile technology companies over the last two months is causing heightened stress for workers with temporary H-1B visas who suddenly have a looming deadline to find another job and employer willing to sponsor them; change their visa status; or return home.

The administration responded to seasonal employers' concerns about labor shortages and announced an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary worker visas for the 2023 fiscal year, on top of the 66,000 H-2B visas already available each fiscal year. It is the biggest increase in supplemental seasonal visas issued in a single year.

New regulations amending the H-2A agricultural guest-worker visa program went into effect in November, making changes to how prevailing wages are formulated, modernizing how the application and certification process is conducted, and improving standards for employment conditions. Farmworker advocates stated that abusive practices, such as those found in the Operation Blooming Onion investigation, demonstrate the inherent flaws of the H-2A program and the government's inability to effectively enforce H-2A protections.

The future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains unresolved heading into 2023 following a year of various court rulings. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has yet to release an updated ruling regarding DACA. It is expected that the case will ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Most recently, the EAGLE Act, which would have lifted per-country caps on employment-based visas, was shelved in the last days of the 117th U.S. Congress.

Form I-9 Changes

Form I-9 was slated for a makeover by the time the current version expired on Oct. 31. The new version of the HR onboarding document used to record employment eligibility verification, as required by the federal government, will feature Sections 1 and 2 compressed from two pages to one, an updated List of Acceptable Documents, and a reduction of the form's instructions from 15 pages to seven pages.

But the expiration date came and went without the new form becoming available, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that employers should continue to use the expired Form I-9 until further notice. DHS also announced an extension of its temporary policy allowing employers to inspect Form I-9 documents virtually until July 31, 2023.

The change most HR professionals were really clamoring for, however—a permanent remote I-9 document inspection option—did not come to pass. DHS issued a proposed rule signaling an openness to exploring remote verification methods, but no new alternatives have been authorized.

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