Workstream co-founder and CEO, Desmond Lim, was recently interviewed on ABC7 News regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on different industries. Read more to learn about his insights, hiring trends and statistics, and an up-close perspective on how things have changed in the recruitment landscape.
Kristen Sze (K): Welcome back. Now let’s get to our next expert of the day. He’s the founder of Workstream - they work with hundreds of businesses and help them with automating the hiring and onboarding process. So joining us is founder Desmond Lim. How are you, Desmond?
Desmond (D): I’m well, and you? How are you doing?
K: I’m doing well too, thank you. I mean we have jobs and we’re thankful for that. Because all we’re hearing right now is people losing their jobs, especially the hourly workers. So you have the big picture right, so tell us, how does the job board look right now? Is it way down? And which industries are way down more than other industries?
D: Yeah, that is great for you to ask. So we surely see a mix - so there’s surely many companies that are not hiring. As you all know, restaurants, hotels, cafes, they’re all closed. So for those job postings, they’re way down. But there are still some that are trying to hire. And for those that are still trying to hire, they are trying to hire more. So some of them are like senior living homes, supermarkets, companies that are trying to hire drivers. So in those sectors, we see a trend that is actually going upwards. For example I would say that in terms of job postings for drivers, we see a trend of almost 3x growth. And in terms of job postings for nurses, we see a trend of almost 2x.
K: And are those wages actually going up in those industries which you say are really ramping up right now?
D: Yeah, in terms of wages, it has actually stayed flat based on what we see. But I think that there's much more job openings for some of those roles. I think overall, pay has stayed flat. In certain roles like nurses, where there’s this high risk being on the frontline - for those we’ve seen the wage go up slightly.
K: Okay, so, if certain industries are contracting and others are expanding, so to speak. If you’re a job seeker and you think, God I need to make money right now, are there certain regions in the state that you will send people to, where those regions are actually doing more hiring?
D: Yeah, I would say so. I think mostly in these coastal regions, those have actually been generally down, just think about New York and the Bay Area. But I would say in this Mid-West, those are still actually holding strong. Actually I would say that in terms of trends we see in this Mid-West and in the South, maybe about only half of this restaurants and hotels are closed. Maybe about half are you know, still open. So we surely see like, if you’re in those areas, you should surely be trying for jobs. I would say that being said, we do see a trend whereby for those jobs that are still open, we see more people trying for those jobs. For example, we have a client, a gas station chain, they have about 50 roles open. Past 3 days, we have seen about 7000 people try for those roles. That is almost like a 5x jump.
K: So let me ask you, eventually we will come out of this and in the post COVID-19 world, do you see any changes in the way people look for jobs or interview applicants?
D: Yeah, I do see a few trends on that front. So we have had several clients come to us say we want to talk about this contactless screening, trying to meet with people via this video, via texting. So that is part of our core software that we have been able to do it. We help our clients to be able to screen people, and source them, and to actually talk to them via zoom video, or texting on the phone. So we surely see a trend move towards that. People want to first meet you when you’re home and they want to be able to see your face and talk to you, prior to bringing you to where they’re at, so yes.
K: Got it, so based on all these changes that are already starting to happen and accelerate even in the post COVID-19 world, and based on what you see in terms of what the jobs will be, what can a job seeker do right now to kind of put themselves in the best position to get one of those jobs once companies really start to hire again?
D: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think in terms of how they should prep, I think this is a great time to actually go back to school. We have all these classes that are all now online, so that is surely something that we’ve been trying to tell our currently hourly folks to - hey, take this break, take this time, if you really can’t find work, stay home, try to take some online courses that can be really helpful. So I think that is some trend that we see. Second trend that we see is trying to tell people - hey, try to be open for job changes. We see a trend whereby more people are going to work from home. So restaurants, cafes, hotels, they are going to pivot to actually cater towards that need. So we are trying to tell people, hey be open to job changes, be open to job trainings, those will be very helpful for you.
K: Alright, Desmond Lim, we are out of time. Although I’m going to spend 5 seconds and just ask you how long do you think before the economy is back?
D: I think it’ll be back in about 3-6 months from what I see. I hope it’ll be sooner but yup.
K: Alright, let’s check back with you then. Desmond Lim, founder of Workstream, thank you so much for your time and insights today. Really appreciate it.
D: Thank you so much for your time!
K: Oh hey, Desmond we have time for one more question, do you have any data on employees calling in sick? Are we seeing that in huge numbers?
D: Yes, we do have that.
K: Alright, tell us about that.
D: We definitely see about 35% of folks who are trying to call in sick. So we think that that is like a very, very big jump. There’s a few factors that are trying to drive that. Some of them are sick because they’re tired, but many of them are trying to call sick because they have to stay home and actually take care of their kids because kids are now out of school, so they are not able to leave the kids. We see a trend too whereby many folks, their parents, they are sick too. Many of these hourly folks, they don’t have a choice but to call in sick, so that they can stay back home. That is a very clear trend that we see.
K: So then, are any employers offering additional help to people who are in those situations so that they don’t need to resort to calling in sick?
D: Yeah, I think some of them are. We see a trend of about 20% of these hourly folks, they are trying to ask for more loans so that is now what they’re doing, trying to ask for more loans. And many of these businesses and companies are trying to be helpful by given the loans that they can. Because many of these folks, they can’t even pay rental.
K: Alright. Tough times for a lot of folks but you also offer some hope as far as how people can position themselves for the future. So Desmond Lim, thank you so much. Really great to see you and now we’re going to leave you for real. Take care!
D: Thank you so much! Take care!
Desmond Lim is co-founder and CEO of Workstream, an automated hiring platform for companies hiring hourly workers. He is a graduate of Harvard and MIT Media Lab, former product manager at WeChat, and investor at Dorm Room Fund. He is based in San Francisco and lived in Palo Alto with his wife and two young daughters.