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What do jobseekers want from employers during lockdown?

May 2020

The most important thing that employers can do is step up communication with students and graduates and keep them informed of their hiring plans

In uncertain times jobseekers are hungry for accurate information on how employers are responding to COVID-19 and its economic impact. However, with the lockdown still ongoing they are feeling disconnected from employers with just under four-fifths (78%) expressing this when surveyed by Prospects.

Given that the demand for information appears to be particularly high while everyone is indoors - with 72% indicating that they would like more information from employers - employers should increase their efforts to connect with jobseekers through digital means. 

Most jobseekers are still actively seeking employment with 59% of respondents indicating that they are still in the market looking for a job, work placement or internship right now. This figure increases substantially for respondents currently in university (71%), with three quarters (74%) of finalists stating that they are still looking.

43% of respondents said they were now using social media more than ever to get answers from employers

Employers must adjust

Nearly half (48%) of final-year students surveyed reported that they have increased their use of online methods to engage with employers because of the coronavirus outbreak. It would be advantageous for graduate employers to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate a strictly online recruitment process for the time being to fill vacancies as there is still a huge demand for jobs.

Research produced by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) suggests that many employers are already making these changes. For instance, in a survey of graduate employers, the ISE found 71% of employers have resorted to delivering face-to-face interviews online or over the telephone in response to COVID-19, while 60% have done the same with assessment centres and 47% doing so with their insight/open days.1

However, their findings also show that nearly three quarters (72%) of employers have decided against attending any careers fairs in response to the pandemic with just 12% suggesting that they will make up for this by attending virtually, a move which can dampen the ability of students and graduates to network with multiple employers.

Given the fundamental role that careers fairs play in the graduate recruitment process, it is important that more employers make this adjustment to accommodate the desire for information expressed by students and graduates in our survey. Virtual careers fairs are an efficient and cost-effective way for employers to be matched with students and recent graduates, and with digital content being so sought after amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is the perfect time to get involved. Prospects is hosting a virtual careers fair on 10 June.

Communication is key

The vast majority (89%) of university students are seeking reassurance from employers that they are still hiring. With research from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) showing that the number of vacancies has decreased dramatically since the lockdown began - especially new vacancies, which have since begun to pick up again - their concerns are justified.2,3

Similarly, university students (80%) are curious as to how companies that are continuing to hire intend to change their recruitment processes in response to the lockdown measures, with many expressing uncertainty about how to approach virtual recruitment as 71% indicated that they are seeking such information from employers.

Moreover, with 43% of respondents indicating that they are now using social media more than ever to get answers from employers, it may be the best way of providing reassurance to students and graduates at this time.

When asked where they are looking, most said that they are looking on company and university websites or social media for updates and advice on how things are progressing as lockdown continues. Careers websites such as Prospects were also a popular choice, with many respondents also indicating that they are monitoring their emails for any updates or vacancies from potential employers.


  1. How are graduate employers adapting to the challenge of COVID-19?, Luminate, 2020
  2. Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 3 May 2020, Institute for Employment Studies, 2020.
  3. Weekly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends in week-ending 26 April 2020, Institute for Employment Studies, 2020.

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