Good News/Bad News about entering a recovery
This is a good news/bad news commentary. The elections are over (thankfully), third quarter earnings are showing positive signs, and the economy in Colorado is actually not in bad shape. This is all good news. As a result we’re seeing A LOT of hiring activity happening. Some of this is due to pent up demand, delayed projects, skinny staff numbers resulting in worn out employees, and of course the positive economic signs. This recovery is similar to others I’ve weathered in my career. There are some definite behaviors happening in the job market.
The bad news part of this article has to do with managers who are in a position to hire during the recovery. Here is what you’re in for:
1. Candidates who are actively looking are not necessarily making ‘career decisions’ right now. There is a general feeling of fear out there – no one wants to be unemployed. As a result folks are taking the FIRST OFFER – a bird in the hand – and not evaluating opportunities on their merit. I’ve seen candidates cancel interviews previously scheduled as soon as an offer comes in. As a hiring manager this means you can’t take time to think about your candidates or collect a lineup of qualified professionals to compare against. If you like an applicant – hire them – or you’ll lose them.
2. Market salaries are inching up. I’ve seen upward pressure on salaries recently. As the market picks up, so do the candidate’s expectations. If they’ve been employed during the recession, they haven’t seen a raise, so if they are going to make a move now they want more money. This trend will continue through the next 9 months or so. If you have a choice to hire now or hire next quarter, I’d encourage you to hire now.
3. Relocation is still a problem. In Colorado, we’re accustomed to being about to attract top talent from outside the area when we can’t find what we’re looking for locally. Unfortunately, the real estate market is prohibiting many folks who would like to live here. They can’t sell their homes, so they are pretty stuck. This reality will further limit your applicant pool. In addition, I haven’t seen the reappearance of relocation packages yet, so you’ll probably expect them to move on their dime – not an ideal situation – but reality for the time being.
4. Brand. Your employment brand is substantially more important as we come out of this
downturn than in previous economic cycles. Professionals will research and check references on you as an employer (ask around their network) before they decide whether or not to apply to your position. Blind postings will not be productive – there are too many ‘make a million’ deals
floating around out there, so if you can’t reveal your company name, then you’re wasting your time and dollars.
5. Job boards aren’t working – at least not if you are looking for experienced A Players. Applicants who are passively looking for a position are not posting their resume on job boards. And, because they are currently over-worked, they don’t have time to fish through hundreds of new posts every day to find yours. If you are a smaller employer who only has a few open positions each month, you simply can’t compete with mega companies and government agencies for attention on the boards. You’ll need to take a more intimate approach to getting the word out. Consider beefing up your referral program – or hire a professional search consultant.
6. You have to sell your value. During the past two years you’ve become accustomed to having candidates sell themselves to you if you’ve been in the fortunate position to have hired new people. Now the tables are turning. You’ll need to evangelize the benefits of working for your company in addition to evaluating the candidate for the position. Put your sales hat on during the interview – and get them excited about you and your company.
Strangely, coming out of a downturn is not my favorite part of the cycle. There is a lot of noise, a lot of grabbing, and a lot of hasty decision-making on the part of the job seeker happening right now. We’ll have to endure this mayhem for the next 2-3 quarters. Decisiveness, enthusiasm, outreach and creative thinking will help you get through it. Good Luck!
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