Goodbye Employee Market, Hello Employers Market

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I’ve been at this staffing thing a little while, and I’ve seen trends over the last 24 years that show that the only thing predictable about the jobs and employment market is that it is wholly unpredictable.  

When the real estate market crashed in 2008, sparking the ‘great recession’ of 2008/2009, it seemed like it would never come back. But as we’ve seen, it’s not only come back but surpassed all expectations. Housing prices in our area have nearly tripled since then and, despite currently higher interest rates, remain extremely solid.  

In the last 5+ years, we’ve experienced an employee’s market to a degree I’ve never seen. Employers were so hard-pressed to find help that they offered signing bonuses, much higher wages, and lowered expectations of new hires. The employee was completely in the driver’s seat.

Last year was sluggish. Inflation was soaring, and mortgage interest rates tripled in a year’s time.  Businesses withdrew into a defensive posture, not forging ahead with growth, but tapering off hiring and expansion plans.  I had several articles last year referring to this, mentioning how often we heard clients saying, “We’re going to hold off for now,” even in the normally busy summer months.

This year seemed to be off to a good start, shaking off last year’s slowdown and hitting the new year with optimism and back to normalcy.  However, there seems to be another round of slowing hitting the job market in the last 30-60 days.  We’ve read about huge names like Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Intel and many others laying off employees by the thousands.  

In the local job market, people seeking jobs are noticing it’s a much more competitive atmosphere in landing a job than in the previous few years.  Companies are slower to hire, not accepting the first available candidates, but being far more selective.  They aren’t bumping the pay either.  

In the staffing business, it’s become clear that many clients are a bit slow, approaching their hiring with greater caution than in years past, hiring less, and many opting to find talent on their own versus using agencies as there are more candidates looking in the job pool than before.  

Cycles come and go. Throughout time, this has always been the case.  They seem to hit us with fury; people (and the news) often overreact, but ultimately, cooler heads seem to prevail. Markets correct.  Investor and consumer confidence ebbs and flows, but ultimately, normalcy has a way of always coming back.  

People looking for a job need to reposition their mentality and attitude to address this change in this softer job market.  The current conditions are sluggish, but by no means dead.  This would be a good time to land a job with a great company, even if the wage is lower than you might be thinking.  

Become invaluable, and your wages will catch up.  This simple advice sounds old school, but it’s just borrowed from the lessons of previous downturns.  

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