H-1B visa applications have declined for the first time in years, according to a recent report from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The department announced last month that it received 199,000 applications this year — 37,000 fewer than last year.
This is concerning to tech companies, many of which expected a huge increase in applications, due to the program’s uncertain future. As a result, tech hiring managers are now racing to recruit from a very small pool of domestic candidates. Many have doubled down on their recruitment efforts by increasing their spending on LinkedIn and Facebook ads or by attending local networking events to attract candidates.
be using: leveraging civic data insights to build more-targeted hiring and recruitment programs. LinkedIn may give you the ability to target individuals who are on LinkedIn, but civic labor data gives you the ability to find much larger populations of potential candidates.
Tech companies can make better use of the massive amount of information that’s put into the public domain by the U.S. government. They can then use the insights from this civic data to geotarget ads on career websites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, so these messages reach candidates in markets with fewer high-quality job opportunities. Companies could also use civic data to select a local trade journal to advertise in that reaches candidates in a very specific location with a very specific occupation or skill set. They just need to know where to look to find these data insights.
Exploring Civic Data Sources
Public sources that could prove useful in finding and attracting applicants include the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as well as the Economic Census and American Community Survey, which come from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The BLS provides data on the nation’s economic health. The agency is best known for sourcing and sharing data on unemployment across geographies and industries.
The U.S. Census Bureau releases an economic census every five years. The data collected in this survey includes information for all establishments, broken down by business type, ownership type, location, total revenue, annual and first-quarter payroll, and number of employees in the pay period. Other information varies from industry to industry.
The American Community Survey provides information on the country’s changing population, housing, and workforce, including income and median housing costs. This information can be used to measure geographic mobility to help recruiters map out potential sites for branch offices. As an example, if the data shows that people are moving away from a tech hub like Silicon Valley to a city like St. Louis, for example, that could signal that there are tech workers available for hire in St. Louis. This data provides recruiters early intel on which cities they should be scouting as sites for a branch office.
These sources are only three of many free open databases that can help recruiting managers glean insights on where to search for candidates by geography and industry. The information can also influence how recruiting managers better attract those candidates, for example by offering better salary and benefits packages or by opening an office in a nearby city.
Using Civic Data Insights to Gain an Edge
With the right technology to help streamline the process of sourcing, cleansing, and analyzing civic data, hiring managers can use public databases to gain an edge. Here are three strategies that can help:
Location. The chart below shows which states have a favorable location quotient for the BLS occupation category “Computers and Mathematics,” which we’ve labeled “Skilled Engineers” on our chart below. Open data on jobs shows what percentage of the workforce has a specific occupation on the local and national level. Dividing these percentages equals the location quotient. For instance, if computer programmers make up 10% of those employed locally and 2% of those employed nationally, then the location quotient is five. The higher the quotient, the more likely hiring managers are to find skilled candidates. That means the states with low location quotient could be targets for talented engineers who are looking for bigger challenges.
Salary. Using public databases, hiring managers can assess which states pay above or below the national average. Recruiters can then geotarget job ads to states where candidates are earning less. This can help increase the likelihood of attracting a skilled worker by offering a higher salary than the prospect could earn locally or in a nearby state. The following chart shows which states’ median salaries for computers and mathematics jobs fall below the national median.
Supply. The number of available candidates is key when searching for talent. The chart below shows the U.S. states and territories where employees in the computer science and math industry are paid the most. States with a high percentage of employees and low salaries could be fertile grounds for recruiting. They might hold candidates who would be willing to relocate for better opportunities.
All of this is only skimming the surface of how public data insights can be used to build more-targeted employee recruitment programs. The key is going to be for tech hiring managers to get the internal buy-in to invest in the tools necessary for the job.