New Norms in Hiring

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It wasn’t very long ago when we were all tripping over help-wanted signs at nearly every business.  I had never seen anything like it.  There were signing bonuses, lowered criteria for hiring, loosening of disqualification over things like recreational drug use, criminal background issues and an overall lowering of hiring standards just to get the warm bodies companies needed to operate and push out product.  

Most people see the very low 3.7% unemployment rate as a very healthy sign that our economy is doing well.  Allow me to confuse the issue.  Unemployment numbers are a somewhat crude measure that doesn’t always reflect what might be true on a local level.  I believe the unemployment levels in our area are higher than the national average. Why?

For starters, there is quite a disparity between unemployment figures for larger companies versus smaller ones.  According to Ron Hetrick, a Labor Economist and former Bureau of Labor Statistics geek I met at an American Staffing Association convention, smaller companies (less than 50 employees) make up 27% of our employment population, but account for nearly 50% of our job openings.  If you expand that out and include businesses of 250 or less, that accounts for nearly 75% of job openings.  The larger companies (over 1000) account for only 11% of job openings.  Therefore, the perception of there being little to no job openings because unemployment figures are so low is not terribly accurate for most job seekers, particularly in our area where most businesses fit into the small to medium-sized business.  They are looking!

We are in what I would call a tweener job market.  It’s kind of a sweet spot.  There are many local jobs open, particularly in the light industrial category, but more applicants are seeking to fill them than just a year or two ago driving up competition to land these jobs.  Clients are becoming more selective in their hiring, and it’s been tough getting candidates to understand the new norm.  

I’ve been saying for a while that candidates need to bring their A-Game to interviews, but you’d be amazed at the feedback we receive about a candidate showing up late, for example, or forgetting their resume, or dressing inappropriately, or seeming to not care about getting the job, as that might have been acceptable in 2022, but is not at all the case now.  Again, this is predominantly for the light industrial positions we mainly fill and does not appear to be the case with the admin or professional jobs we fill.  

Wages are high, as is demand for talent, so the employee is in a fantastic position to find a great job.  However, the employers also have seen more applicants, despite what the 3.7% unemployment figure might indicate.  This combination can be a very healthy mix for employers and employees alike.  It sure beats tripping over help-wanted signs. 

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