The Road Ahead: Insight for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers in 2015

I find it useful to look back prior to looking ahead in some instances.  How well I remember 2010-2012 when the economy was soft and employers had the upper hand in controlling the market for job seekers.  It was a tough time and many companies did a great job of protecting their human capital assets when the going got rough.  Many employees were afraid to lift their head and look at outside opportunities.  Everyone was risk averse and getting people to move was difficulty, if not impossible.

Here are some employment statistics from 2011 to refresh your memory:

  • national unemployment:  8.6%
  • southern region unemployment:  8.7%
  • west region unemployment:  9.9%
  • northeast region unemployment:  7.9%
  • midwest region unemployment:  8.2%

Let’s fast forward to 2014 and look at the same numbers:

  • national unemployment:  5.8%
  • southern region unemployment:  6.0%
  • west region unemployment:  6.5%
  • northeast region unemployment:  5.9%
  • midwest region unemployment:  5.6%

While we are certainly not completely “out of the woods” the tide has certainly changed and the issues employees and job seekers dealt with just three years ago have changed significantly.  These changes should cause both job seekers and employers, especially hiring managers, to consider the following issues as we move into a new year.

Here are a few thoughts I would share for both sides of the table:

Employers-Hiring Managers:

  • The candidate pool is both bigger and smaller now.  It is bigger because more people are looking for new roles, upgrades or better situations.  It is smaller because many job seekers have deserted industries that really suffered during the economic downturn.  Construction and other STEM related areas will see the biggest impact as those who previously worked in these areas have sought different employment in other industries they perceive to be more stable.
  • Relocating employees is more difficult now than I have seen in my 30+ years of working.  Many mid to senior level employees have houses that still have not fully recovered their value and they are averse to taking a loss on their current home.
  • Working remotely is becoming a bigger topic with every search I work on.  Technology has really leveled the playing field with many roles and companies who do not adapt how work gets done will miss out on the best and brightest because of their ability to work remotely with other firms.
  • Hiring bonuses are becoming more common.  This was a common occurrence prior to the economic downturn and they are back now, maybe stronger than ever, especially in some key areas, both geographic and industry wise.

Job Seekers:

  • Some employers still use “2011 thinking” in their hiring practices and you may have to negotiate more to get your true value.  If you are in a highly sought skill area or hot employment market you have a lot of leverage in the negotiation process.
  • This may seem counter-intuitive with my last statement, but if you are in a less sought after areas you may have to compromise more to get the role you want with the company you want.
  • Your resume will need to show your level of accomplishment, not just your activities.  More employers want to see your contribution to the firm and this will include quantitative values of revenue enhancement, savings or any other measurable criteria.  Saying you have done something is not enough.  Data speaks volumes!

I could add even more, but these are some of the key points to consider when both sides come together in the coming year.

It should be a fun time.  My best to each of you in the coming year.