There’s always a but, right? The US Department of Labor reported that the number of open jobs in the United States was the highest in 14 years. The BUT is that companies FILLED those positions at the slowest pace since the end of last Summer. Job openings rose 2.5% in January 2015 to a seasonally adjusted 5 million – that’s the highest since 2001. Available jobs were 28% higher compared to one year ago. While hiring rose an even faster 3.5% to 5.24 million, that is the slowest rate since last August. Poor winter weather may be one cause. Ok – here’s another but- but companies also complain that it has become increasingly harder to find workers with the precise skills they need.
The latest employment survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, for example, says the number of job openings that went unfilled rose to an eight-year high. At the end of January there were 1.8 unemployed workers per job opening, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, up from 1.78 in December. With the labor market recovering, Americans are somewhat more willing to quit their current jobs to take another position elsewhere. The quits rate edged up to 2% in January to match a post-recession high.
So what does this mean to you? It means there is an increasingly small pool of qualified candidates available to you now that you need to add employees to grow your business. There are several things that hiring managers should be doing right now to deal with this issue – and it’s not going away, and it’s not going to get better anytime soon.
First – set reasonable expectations. The days of having multiple candidates to choose from are gone. Set your expectation, or the expectations of the hiring managers you support, lower. If you used to interview 5-10 people for an opening you should expect 2-4 now. If you used to get piles of resumes for a position (and let’s quantify that as QUALIFIED resumes) you should do back-flips if you get 10-20.
Increase your recruiting budgets. That’s internal and external. We’re seeing a rush of companies adding internal recruiters. We’re also seeing our Professional Direct Hire business increase significantly. If your plan is to add staff, make sure you get the budget to recruit that staff.
Plan ahead. Succession planning is key. Review your bench of employees and see who you can promote to where. Pay particular attention to your high performers. If you don’t promote or at least make them aware of your succession plans, trust me, there’s a recruiter somewhere (probably more than one) that’s talking to them about other opportunities.
Work the college grad circuit. Bright young kids are graduating into a job market their peers haven’t seen in years. There are gems in this generation. Go find them.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news – but the hiring market is tough out there, and it’s probably not going to change. I’m always happy to talk or hear your ideas or experiences. Drop me a note if you have time.