June 9, 2009

Uncertainity in the Driver's Seat

One of the messages that I've been preaching to the hiring teams I am supporting is that uncertainty is the only predictable element of today's candidate market.

The recent trend of our slowing unemployment rate, our slowing foreclosure rate and our slowing home-price decline is a perfect example. This is all being trumpeted as good news. I suppose in a wacky, reverse-world kind of way it is.

This uncertainty is evident in the staffing and recruiting world, too. Hiring managers are eager for a late-90's like surge in candidate interest and willingness to consider new opportunities. Many hiring managers perceive that if they have an opening on their team, candidates should be abundant.

Not really. While I am seeing spurts of candidate hyper-activity; it is relegated to sectors hardest hit by actual lay-offs and closure. Think automotive and banking/investing/finance.

Holistically, however, what I am seeing is actually a frozen candidate market. Hiring managers are concerned that requisitions to replace terminated employees will not be approved; so mediocre-performing employees are kept in position instead of terminated. Employees who are drained by low-job satisfaction are staying in position, regardless of their self-satisfaction. In short, openings aren't being created, employees aren't going out to the open market. Compound this with recent announcement that more people than expected are retiring after layoffs; we are will soon be looking at a candidate shortage.

An interesting comment heard from my local KTSA radio-host Jack Ricardi, seems to sum up the feelings of many today. Jack commented that it made sense that unemployment has slowed down; there are too few people in most organizations left to cut.