Although I’ve always been a numbers kind of guy, 2021 has definitely become the year of job market analytics. I find myself spending as much time talking about how the market numbers are trending as I am the impacts on talent acquisition. The most recent analysis of the jobs report offers yet another month scratching our heads.
Let’s hit some of the highlights:
- The number of those quitting jobs declined by 4.7%, falling to 4.16 million from 4.36 million, according to the Labor Department
- Job openings accelerated to just below their all-time high, totaling 11.03 million, an increase of 4.1% as the rate rose to 6.9% from 6.7%
- While the quits rate dropped, the level of job openings accelerated to just below its all-time high. That number totaled 11.03 million, an increase of 4.1% as the rate rose to 6.9% from 6.7%.
- The number of openings exceeded those looking for jobs by 3.6 million in October. JOLTS data runs a month behind the more closely followed nonfarm payrolls report, which showed a gain of 546,000 for the month.
- Even with the decline in the number of “quitters” in October, we are still 24% higher than we were in February 2020
If you’re looking for a summary of the data, it’s the equivalent of a green stop sign that says yield.
It appears that while we’re dealing with candidates who are reassessing reinterring the workforce, they’re also taking a hard look at what is valuable in a job. Rather than simply moving for more money, most are valuing flexibility, autonomy and a connection to the company’s EVP more than before. The pandemic slowed things down enough for all of us to spend more time with family and find ways to integrate work and life. Unfortunately, most companies have not caught up with this trend when marketing to potential employees.
The pandemic also accelerated conversations around fair compensation, DEI and other critical topics faster than what most firms were prepared for. I really don’t understand why it took a pandemic for large corporations to realize that it’s insane to think someone can live on $7.75 an hour, companies seemed dumbstruck by just how quickly the wages have increased over the last 18 months. The decrease in candidate supply has helped increase the wage in most areas but it isn’t enough to combat the 3 million more jobs than candidates in the market.
More concerning is the turnover rate being 24% higher than pre-pandemic levels in February of last year. I think I can speak for most recruiters in saying I haven’t worked this hard against so many headwinds since before 2008. Unfortunately, according to JP Morgan Chase analysts, this could be the “norm” for the next 2-3 years. (😒)
So how do you compete in a market with so many obstacles outside of your control?
I’m amazed when I speak to hiring managers who still have this idea that candidates should be honored or feel privileged to be interviewed. They put the candidate in the hot seat, shooting one question after the other and then end the interview with a decision on whether the candidate will be a job fit.
The market has changed. Candidates are now in the driver seat so you might want to inform your hiring managers to step down from their self-built pedestals. As an industry, we need to spend time with our hiring managers to make them brand ambassadors. So many surveys show how candidates want to feel connected and empowered by the brand they work for. It’s up to our managers to set the tone from the first interview.
It’s also a good idea to share the communication responsibility with hiring managers. Recruiters should not be the only ones engaging candidates after the interview through to Day 1. Managers should be actively involved in reselling the opportunity once the offer has been accepted. I recently attended a webinar with an onboarding company that stated 85% of candidates determine how long they will stay with a firm within the first few months of the job. It is more critical now for managers to be just as focused on the candidate experience as the recruiters are.
I recently shared a post focused on how to enhance the candidate experience. If you want to check out my suggestions, be sure to read my post If you want more candidates, treat them like VIPs.
I’m kind of glad we’re getting close to the end of 2021. Last year, I was hopeful that this year would bring more stabilization and order but we all know that didn’t happen. Rather than focusing on all of the obstacles we face as recruiters, let’s work with our hiring managers (partners) to focus on enhancing the candidate experience. There will be some major mindset shifts needed but it will definitely help you have a competitive edge in this challenging market.