Times They Are A-Changin’…

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As Recruiters, we tend to keep our finger on the pulse of the economy and unemployment rate – it’s critical for us as we try to manage changes in our business month-to-month. We place candidates in permanent, contract, and temporary roles – one goes up, the other goes down. The demand for temporary and contract employees right now is intense, but the pool of candidates available and willing to do contract has shrunk significantly over the last year. It’s an endless cycle of supply and demand. It makes for exciting days in the office!

I look at the graph above and it tells me two things – (1) I understand why everyone thought I had lost my mind when I left my steady bi-weekly paycheck to start Juno in September of 2010. (2) The unemployment rate is actually not that hard to predict – see above, an almost perfect 10-year cycle. A more seasoned Recruiter than myself told me this years ago – he has survived a few more storms and always offered me a few friendly warnings when I was feeling too good about things at Juno.

So what is tough about this? What can we learn and understand? How does this impact recruiting? As with many things, it’s our ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. It’s understanding that the way we recruited candidates in 2010 will not work in 2015. They have activity, multiple offers, and counter-offers (eek!). They feel in demand – they have finally taken the driver’s seat back. Candidates aren’t responding to your half-hearted attempt at a job posting – they need to be pursued. We can’t rely on three candidates we found and assume the search is over – we need volume. The game of recruiting has changed once again – it always does. How will we adapt to that change is the question?

Companies and hiring managers are sometimes slow to understand when the market has shifted, as well. We have countless clients who have a long and arduous process who flat out miss stellar candidates because they do not stay on the market that long. Many offers we’ve negotiated lately have been against another offer and sometimes a COUNTER (by the way, regardless of the economy don’t do this and don’t take this…more on that later). Clients need to be aware of the competition. Five years ago if I got an offer for a candidate, I was closing the deal. Period. Today – I’m not entirely sure that getting an offer means the deal is closed. Last week I had an offer for a candidate an hour after she left the interview. She flatly turned it down because she had a few other interviews that were more exciting to her. Not even another offer – more exciting interviews. I couldn’t believe my ears.

And clients, I’m not picking on you. You feel the pressure to get talent in the door – I get that and I share in this pressure with you. It never leaves me. I think about your HRIS position as I close my eyes at night, I wake up in the morning thinking of the one Corporate Recruiter that I forgot to call for your role. My team feels it, too. I get text messages on the weekend, “Have you thought about so and so for XYZ firm?” I did, they make too much money…dammit!

The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in quite a while – thank you nameless politicians. We are so thrilled – everyone deserves a job and a paycheck after a hard day’s work. We all deserve to feel good about our individual and collective efforts in stimulating the economy – I think of 2009 and cringe a bit. I’d much prefer to have candidates who have options than those I met years ago who felt as though they had no options.

In short, we’re on this rollercoaster together, so let’s figure out the ups and downs as a team.


Mikal Harden