How the Great Recession Affected Hiring

Doug Horn on March 4, 2015 9:50:00 AM EST


The Great Recession was a historically difficult time to be seeking gainful employment. Approximately 10 percent of Americans were out of work, with millennials fairing particularly poorly. Companies were forced to reevaluate who was integral to their business and to completely reexamine their hiring processes. Ultimately, a number of changes were instituted to the latter, stemming from the repercussions of the economy crash. Below, we’ll delve into some of the important ways by which hiring and recruiting in general have changed in the years since 2007. 


1) Resumes Contain More Gaps in Employment

Millions of people lost their jobs during the Great Recession, and a large chunk of them were unable to find work immediately afterwards. Naturally, this left wide employment gaps on resumes, some extending over the course of years. We’ve discussed in the past how hiring managers can be unforgiving about gaps on resumes, leading many jobseekers to find creative ways to fill them. Some people will volunteer, while others go back to school. Regardless, the best recourse candidates can take is to be truthful. Hiring managers can see through lies; if someone says they took a two year sabbatical, it’s probably not getting overlooked. Honesty really is the best policy in this instance, especially because…


2) Hiring Managers are More Understanding of Those Gaps in Employment

As stated earlier, hiring managers aren’t stupid. They can see through fabricated resumes and misleading answers. In reality, however, it isn’t worth lying to them, as a CareerBuilder study found that 85 percent of employers have softened their stance on employment gaps in the years following the Great Recession. That’s not to say that they look past it completely, though. 61 percent of employers responded to that same survey saying that in order for the gap to be acceptable, the candidate would need to have gone back to school to improve their skills. 60 percent said the candidate should have done some volunteer work. 79 percent said contract or temporary work would be sufficient. Ultimately, even though hiring managers have softened their stances on employment gaps, applicants who do not show initiative will be less likely to earn a position within their desired company.

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3) Mid-Wage Jobs are on the Decline and Low-Wage Jobs are on the Rise

Another hiring trend that has emerged in the years since the Great Recession ended has been the meteoric rise of low-wage jobs in conjunction with the fall of mid-wage jobs. Mid-wage jobs ($13.83 to $21.13 per hour) took a big hit during the recession, accounting for approximately 60 percent of the total jobs lost during that time. Post-recovery, however, those jobs have only accounted for 27 percent of the jobs gained. Additionally, low-wage jobs made up 21 percent of jobs lost during the recession, but have accounted for 58 percent of new jobs since the recession ended. The conclusion? Middle management is being drastically reduced. Employers are trying to replace these types of workers with less experienced employees, and whether or not it works is still up in the air.


It’s safe to say the Great Recession had a profound impact on the way companies approach their hiring efforts. Gone are the days where an employment gap on one’s resume spelled doom; welcome to the dawn of understanding and leniency. Gone is the heyday of middle management; welcome to the reign of entry-level positions. Realistically, things could never stay the same after such an impactful event on the economy. Hopefully, these changes will benefit the companies who are enacting them, rather than horribly backfire.