I’m losing great candidates! What is happening with the job market?

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United States

I’ve fielded not less than a dozen calls from clients, recruiters and investors in the past month. All with a common question – what is going on with the market? All are dealing with competing offers, ghosting and outrageous salary demands from candidates. We came out of the blocks on January 5 with a higher volume of open roles than any other January in 15 years. About a month ago another wave of demand hit.  Here is what is happening….

  1. COVID-19 caused many companies to pull or delay open roles because of the unknown economic implications of the initial shut down and pandemic.
  2. We’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel this year with the rollout of vaccines and return of global commerce.
  3. Supply chains are beginning to move again so inventories can increase in the next 3-6 months – meaning retailers can start selling again.
  4. Companies are opening new roles and reopening previously delayed roles – so effectively trying to fill 2 years’ worth of open requisitions RIGHT NOW.
  5. This is leading to candidates fielding multiple offers, which is driving salaries up.
  6. In addition, local candidates are being courted by coastal companies with higher salary ranges for remote positions – which also has an impact on the job seeker’s perceived value.

The result? You need to respond to the changes in our local market in order to attract and hire the talent you need today. Here are some thoughts on leveling up your hiring for this crazy market:

  1. Define your intent up front. Take the time to identify your ideal profile and tap your interview team before posting an open role. Companies who are buttoned up and showcase an elegant candidate experience are more likely to close on the hire.
  2. Set expectations early. When you identify a candidate you are interested in, lay out the hiring agenda for them so that they know exactly what they will experience—who they will meet with and how long the process will take.
  3. Call for transparency. In this market, you cannot assume that you are the only company pursuing a candidate. Ask them how their search is going and let them know you are interested. Request that they tell you if another offer is imminent so that you can adjust your timeline accordingly. You won’t always get honesty here, but you can ask for it.
  4. Collapse your selection process. I realize that you are all very busy trying to keep up with being overcapacity and understaffed, but you have to complete the interview process in one week. If you normally take two weeks to get through all the interviews you will lose two of every three candidates—that’s how fast things are moving right now.
  5. Same day feedback. Make sure that your candidates get feedback on their interviews and the next steps immediately following each interview. Keep in mind that good candidates are getting 2-3 calls per day from recruiters. Silence is dangerous!
  6. Negotiate in good faith. If you know that a candidate has other opportunities, your best option is to let them know you are interested but want to see what the other offer is before extending your offer. This is a little dangerous but may give you the upper hand with a strong candidate.  You’ll have a chance to go in stronger. If you go in first, you will likely lose the bidding war.  Alternatively, if you put a strong offer in front of them, you can ask that they stop their search and join you. The offer you will have to make will probably be much higher than you think the candidate is worth – and that’s a result of the current market.  Don’t forget to address the counteroffer with working folks. You may lose them to a raise in their current job when they try and resign.

This is going to be an interesting year to navigate hiring with shifting sands and expanded geographical pressure, but if you are proactive, deliberate and swift, you can attract those talented professionals that your company needs in order to grow and thrive. For more ideas on landing great people – visit us here!