Tightening Labor Market Good News for Job Seekers

Anyone seeking employment in 2017 can expect to see more job choices and employers ready to hire. It's a great time to be job hunting, says this recruiter.

January 25, 2017 – Executive search firm Reeve & Associates expects the tightening labor market to continue, and this could be positive news for professionals considering a new position.

“Job seekers can expect to see more job choices and employers ready to hire at all levels,” said Philip Reeve, the firm’s president. Reeve & Associates focuses exclusively on identifying staffing market research, marketing, sales and related information technology professionals. “Most employers have been wanting to hire, but now there is more confidence to actually pull the trigger” now that the national election is over and talent acquisition leaders are refocused on building their people pipelines, he said.

Mr. Reeve said he expects talent shortages to continue to be a problem for employers as the year unfolds, but he thinks it is a dilemma that ultimately can be avoided.

“Talent shortages have occurred for a few reasons: employers haven’t been willing to hire candidates to grow into a role and they haven’t invested in bringing their current staff up to the level they need,” Mr. Reeve noted. “Therefore, there are fewer choices of candidates with the skills employers want as everyone wants someone to ‘hit the ground running.’ This, coupled with job seekers looking for 20+ percent increases in salary to make up for the lack of raises and increases over the past few years, has left everyone treading water.”

Market Trends and Implications

Mr. Reeve said that he and his partners have identified several key trends they started to experience during the second half of last year which they expect to continue into the first half of this year. Among them:

Accelerated hiring process. In 2016, it took slightly more than two months to fill a position, down substantially from four months in 2015. Candidates that remain patient, coupled with hiring managers who streamline the interviewing process, have the best chance for success.

Selective recruitment. On average, more than 100 candidates are evaluated for any given position. Of those, six to eight will participate in telephone interviewswith half invited for in-person interviews. Candidates who research their potential employer and speak with current employees do the best on interviews.

Intensive interviews. While the interview process varies from company to company, it generally requires a phone interview followed by two separate days of in-person interviewing to secure a job offer. It is worthy to note that each day of interviewing typically involves meeting multiple individuals. Employers that limit call-backs and maximize the participation of all decision-makers have a higher success rate of landing the best candidate.

Increasing compensation. Most employed candidates are seeking a 20 percent increase in total compensation to make a career change even if they haven’t had an increase or have experienced a meager one in the past year. Candidates with realistic compensation expectations, coupled with employers who can offer a 12 to 15 percent increase in compensation, are those that make successful hires.

Skills testing. It is becomingly increasingly common for candidates to participate in a skills test prior to receiving an offer. Candidates should be prepared to demonstrate their abilities to potential employers, not just talk about them.

Work from home. Also emerging as a more accepted trend is the ability for professionals to work remotely. Employers need to understand that geographic flexibility is becoming a decision-making factor for qualified candidates.

Employer Considerations

Given that the majority of open positions require skilled and experienced researchers, Mr. Reeve suggests that employers must take these three necessary steps:

Decide Quickly. Managers who decide quickly can hire the very best candidates. Everyone wants to ‘feel the love’ and a lengthy process causes candidates to lose interest, embrace their current job or interview elsewhere. Managers who decide quickly can service more clients — earning greater revenue — and prevent current employees from being overworked — lowering churn and the time and expense of re-staffing.

Set a Target Hire Date. Mark your calendar when you want or need your new employee onboard and work your way backwards toward key benchmarks. Reeve and Associates’ data shows that employers must complete the telephone and in-person interview process within 30 days. Offers must be extended within 45 days to have a new employee provide proper notice and start in two months. No task, including staffing, is successfully accomplished without a schedule. 

Sell Your Company. Be aware that as you interview candidates, candidates interview you. Develop a list of job and company advantages and make sure they are persuasive to you. Then message those points throughout the interview process. Hiring works best if you can engage and attract talent.

Hiring and Staffing Trends
With 2017 now underway, Reeve & Associates expects a tightening within the labor market to continue – which is positive news for professionals considering a new position. Several key trends that Philip Reeve, the firm’s president, experienced during the second half of 2016 will likely continue into the first half of this year. Watch and listen now.

Additional Insights

“If you are willing to target and recruit skilled talent and a pay 15 percent increase in compensation, employers can and often do find the talent they want,” Mr. Reeve said. Looking ahead, he said, “we expect to see more choice of jobs available from small and large employers. We also expect to see employers more willing to hire as pressure mounts for them to grow and manage their existing and expanding workloads.” With that said, he expects to see employers continue to struggle with the increased compensation they must pay to hire who they want.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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