The restaurant and food service industry was one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. As businesses across the country were forced to temporarily or permanently shut shop, millions of people lost jobs almost overnight. 

In stark contrast, the economy started its recovery early in 2021, when jobs in this industry started opening up at a rapid pace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the number of job openings in “accommodation and food services” (which maps loosely to the restaurant and food service industry) doubled in May 2021 compared to May 2020.  Yet, the industry remains largely understaffed, as restaurant owners are finding it hard attract relevant candidates for their jobs.. 

At Joveo, we analyzed campaign performance and cost data across millions of job ads powered via our programmatic job advertising platform to understand the dynamics of candidate supply and demand in this industry, and determine the performance benchmarks that recruitment advertisers should be aware of.

Competition for candidates is heating up

The average cost per click (CPC) is a great indicator of candidate demand, as recruitment advertisers place aggressive bids on their job ads when the competition for candidates among employers is high.

Our data indicates that while candidate demand was relatively low at the end of 2020, it has since soared and continues to rise as we speak – more than doubling from an average CPC of $0.64 in December 2020 to $1.45 in June 2021. 

Encouragingly, the average click-to-apply (CTA) ratio is improving – which means more high-intent job seekers have been clicking on job ads (and, therefore, completing applications) in the recent past than 6 months ago. The average CTA was as low as 5.2% in January 2021, which rose to 11.2% in June 2021.

This indicates that the growing demand and the resulting attractive offers made to job seekers have gradually stimulated a positive response from candidates. Consequently, applicant sourcing costs (while still high) are going down.

Applicant costs are high – but on the decline

The average cost per applicant (CPA) rose from $9.7 in November last year to $15.8 in March this year (with the exception of a brief dip in February) in tandem with the rising CPC rates in this period.

Since then, as CTA rates improved (more clicks converted to applicants), the average CPA has been declining, settling on $13 in June. The downward trend signals a potential and gradual return to normalcy, although there’s still a long way to go. 

To compare, the average CPA in March 2020 (right before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the country) was only $7.8 – almost half of what it is today.

As an employer, what can you do?

In today’s candidate-driven market, job seekers have the pick of the lot when it comes to deciding where to rebuild their careers. Finding and attracting the right and most relevant candidates is a matter of your job ads being seen at the right place at the right time, at scale. 

It’s not really about lowering your candidate sourcing costs, as much as it is about incorporating data on market forces to better inform your recruitment advertising strategies – with the goal of competing more intelligently and effectively in the ongoing battle for the best talent. 

The best way to achieve this is by leveraging data and automation. 

Industry benchmarks on recruitment advertising performance as well as data on the state of the labor market can enable you to advertise your jobs:

  • only on talent sources that yield the best results,
  • at the most ideal times of the day, week, or month, 
  • with the most optimal bidding strategy that delivers high visibility for your jobs at the right cost,
  • with job titles that attract the attention of a large number of relevant candidates,
  • and a lot more!

To learn how Joveo can help, reach out to us today!