February 2020 Jobs Report: Employers Add 273,000 Jobs

By Robert Half March 6, 2020 at 8:47am

Employers added 273,000 jobs in February, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

New job creation in both December 2019 and January 2020 was also higher than previously reported. With revisions, these months, combined, saw 85,000 more jobs added than BLS data initially showed. Given these adjustments, job gains have averaged 243,000 per month over the last three months.

The following sectors saw the most growth in employment last month, according to the BLS:

  • Education and health services: 54,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality: 51,000 jobs added
  • Government: 45,000 jobs added
  • Construction: 42,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 41,000 jobs added

Unemployment rate inches down to 3.5%

In February, the unemployment rate declined slightly to 3.5%. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older also edged down last month to 1.9%, from 2.0% in January. These professionals are the most highly sought-after job candidates.

What employers need to know

When you’re moving fast to staff open roles, it’s easy to not give a promising candidate’s resume the attention it deserves. After quickly reading the document and confirming it lists most of the basic requirements, you may be tempted to set up an interview ASAP.

However, a hasty review process could lead to wasted time — or a bad hire. So be sure to pause long enough to take a full look at the job seeker’s resume. As part of that process, you’ll want to:

  • Identify any unexplained employment gaps. Does the candidate have long breaks between jobs? If so, you’ll want to find out why.
  • Take note of excessive job hopping. This could be a sign of a professional’s ambition or, perhaps, a lack of commitment.
  • Check for careless mistakes, like typos. A messy resume could signal weak communication skills, poor attention to detail or disinterest.
  • Look out for fluff. Too much emphasis on hobbies or interests suggests the candidate is trying to fill space.

Get more insight on how to review resumes and select the most promising candidates to interview. 

If you have questions about key details, consider setting up a phone interview to address your concerns head-on. After that, if you still feel confident about the candidate’s potential, move swiftly to set up an in-person interview.

What job seekers need to know

It goes without saying that writing a good resume is critical to your job search success. But a good resume alone may not be enough to score an interview. 

What else could help give you an edge? Strategic use of social media and other online tools and outlets, according to a recent Robert Half survey of senior managers. 

About half (49%) of senior managers surveyed said they are most impressed when job candidates network on social media with employees at a target company. That said, take care in your approach. For example:

  • Before reaching out to anyone, confirm the social media profiles you use for job-hunting purposes are up to date, professional-looking and include relevant career details.
  • When sending connection requests to professional contacts on LinkedIn, be sure to personalize the message and explain why you’re getting in touch.
  • As a general rule, don’t send Facebook friend requests to hiring managers.
  • On Twitter and Instagram, only follow the professional accounts of potential contacts.  

Our research also found that 47% of senior managers are impressed by candidates who provide access to an online portfolio or personal website. So, consider creating and sharing these items with potential employers, if doing so makes sense for the type of role you’re after. 

Lastly, don’t overlook the value of creating a well-written cover letter to accompany your resume when you have the opportunity to do so. Well over half (58%) of the senior managers we surveyed said they find it helpful to review this document when evaluating candidates. 

Find out how to write a cover that will stand out.

An infographic summarizing the February 2020 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

Availability Status

Let us know you're ready to work with one click.

Update My Status

Set Your Status

Click the blue button on your profile page at least once a week to keep your status set to Available.

Set Your Status

Your status will automatically change to Idle and Unknown over time, so update it weekly while you’re looking for work

Update My Status

More From the Blog...