Presidential elections capture the attention of business leaders and decision makers just as they do the hearts and minds of individual voters. With a new or re-elected U.S. president comes new policy decisions and new implications for business. The impact is even deeper if the president’s party also captures (or loses) more seats in Congress.

When business leaders have confidence in the political system and economy, they tend to be more likely to take actions to spur company growth. On the other hand, when key decision makers are less confident, they may be less likely to invest and spend, which certainly impacts plans for future hiring. An October poll of CEOs by Chief Executive found uncertainty about the upcoming election to be a top reason for a recent dip in CEO optimism for the future.

No matter who wins the upcoming election, businesses across the country will feel the impact. Here are five areas where the 2020 election could affect employment and hiring processes:

Unemployment Levels

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented swings in the unemployment rate. At the height of the pandemic, when many states were in lockdown, an estimated 40 million people lost their jobs, resulting in a nearly 15 percent unemployment rate. However, since then, many laid-off and furloughed employees have returned to work and the unemployment rate has receded to 7.9 percent.

History has shown that unemployment levels are never static, and there are highs among the lows. When the economy shows signs of slowing or moves fully into a recession, hiring plans also slow down, and some companies even begin to consider layoffs. Hiring does still happen in a down economy, but there is more scrutiny placed on hiring and spending.

As the economy rebounds, hiring will continue across many industries, and it will remain critical for companies to compete for talent effectively. Companies wanting to attract a greater share of available talent will need to employ strategies to provide candidates with an easier, streamlined, and time-efficient recruiting and hiring process. Some of the solutions organizations will need to consider to boost talent acquisition competitiveness include: 

  • Employer branding: Using channels such as social media and career networking sites is an effective way to showcase company culture, people, and job opportunities.
  • Shorter application and interview processes: Streamlined interview processes and short, easy to complete applications will keep candidates engaged. 
  • Efficient candidate screening: Efficient background checks that are both fast and high-quality bring the hiring process to a timely conclusion.

Healthcare Legislation

It has been some time since the Affordable Care Act was passed, but there has been no shortage of attempts to overturn or water down the law. Depending on who wins the 2020 election, the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare legislation may either be strengthened or weakened. 

With more legislation and tighter regulations, there may be more compliance pressure on all employers. Healthcare employers, in particular, could face some unique challenges. If new or expanded healthcare legislation attracts more people to use healthcare services, health systems and hospitals will need to recruit even more talent to meet demand, even as the industry is in short supply of doctors, nurses, and technicians.

Changing healthcare legislation could also impact the overall healthcare hiring process. Currently, healthcare employers are prohibited from hiring individuals with certain healthcare sanctions or exclusions. Any changes in healthcare sanction and exclusion regulations will impact how healthcare organizations screen and hire job candidates going forward.

[INTERACTIVE INFOGRAPHIC] How will your hiring process be different in 2021?  Learn 2021's trends with our interactive infographic>> 

Candidate Experience

Even in the best of times, attracting great candidates is no easy feat. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented additional challenges for organizations seeking to improve the candidate experience. For example, hiring activities such as background screening and new-hire onboarding must be performed remotely, while still keeping candidates engaged through the entire hiring process. 

The candidate experience is already important, but it will become more important in an economy in which companies need to compete more for talent. Because election outcomes will impact the economy, they will also impact the degree to which the candidate experience will be more or less of a competitive differentiator for companies. 

A strong economy will drive companies to further refine and improve the candidate experience in order to attract the highest-quality candidates possible. Because the candidate experience spans from the point of initial contact with a candidate all the way to eventual hiring, many employer actions can deliver a better experience for candidates. Some examples include:

  • Candidate surveys: Asking candidates for feedback delivers insights about which aspects of the hiring process are more effective than others, helping companies refine processes going forward.
  • Automation: New technology and integrations help to eliminate manual, paper-based hiring processes.
  • Efficient background screening workflows: Reviewing the existing background screening process can identify opportunities to reduce turnaround time.


Laws regulating such things as overtime, paid time off, and salary history bans can be influenced by post-election policy changes. Policies deemed more “employer-friendly” may lighten the regulatory burden on employers and make it easier to hire, whereas other policies may focus more on worker protections, privacy issues, and increased employee flexibility. 

Any changes affecting employee compensation can have implications for hiring practices. Tighter regulations increase the compliance burden for employers, making it necessary to review and upgrade existing hiring processes where necessary. For example, new state and local salary history bans will lead organizations to examine job offers with more scrutiny, so there will be less pay equity risk in the future.

Background Checks

According to a national survey, most employers conduct background checks. Each must navigate a complex maze of laws governing how background checks should be conducted.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), for example, which governs employer background checks, can be amended, expanded, or rewritten after a major election and a change in government. Even something as seemingly straightforward as a change in the wording of FCRA background check disclosures can impact hiring practices and the steps employers must take to remain in compliance. When not attended to, these nuances may also result in lawsuits and penalties for employers.

With changes in background screening laws, it will be more necessary than ever for companies to partner with a reputable background screening service provider to gain much-needed compliance advice and support. A trusted background screening partner can help with resources to facilitate the process of reviewing a range of background check and hiring practices potentially impacted by changing legislation, including:

  • Job applications: The passage of a new federal “ban the box” law or changes in existing state laws will require some employers to make additional changes to job applications.
  • Drug testing: The passage of more state laws on recreational marijuana use or national legalization will require companies to further change drug testing policies.
  • Adverse action: Hiring decisions will be impacted by changes in laws dictating the parameters for taking adverse action based on background check results.

A New Hiring Landscape for 2021

The year 2020 kicked off with a global pandemic as well as a fresh new batch of legislative changes affecting hiring practices. With the general election just days away, 2021 is likely to bring more change. Thankfully, there are resources available to help employers hire successfully, whether change comes in the form of a continuously fluctuating unemployment rate or new laws impacting how companies recruit and hire. By working with a partner who can help you streamline hiring practices and stay abreast of post-election legislation changes, you can successfully attract and hire great talent in 2021 and beyond.

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