As the new year kicks into high gear, one of the most talked-about topics is our economy, particularly the job market & its growth. This leads us to ask a simple question that I hear every single day….”How’s the market these days?” Both clients & candidates want to know if they have an advantage in looking for a new situation. The simple answer to the question is that the market is GREAT… For everyone.
A little history…
When I began my career in the staffing industry, it was 1998. The market was as hot as it could be for candidates, & the dot com boom was starting to really gain momentum. My group would put the name of our “Hot Candidate” on the board & within an hour we had 4-5 interviews set up for them for 1-2 days. That would usually generate 1-2 offers & the candidate had a job within a week. Those were great days to be a candidate but not great to be a client. Offers were very often turned down & clients had to hurry & sometimes make hasty decisions that didn’t always work out. Candidates also became a little blinded by salaries & stock options & forgot about finding the right fit. This was definitely a candidate-driven market, but an unhealthy one.
Then the recession of 2001 hit. The Dot Coms went bust, our nation was attacked on September 11th, & the job market, particularly in the tech sector took a huge nosedive. Candidates were stunned when just a year ago they would receive 1-2 real offer letters within a week, they now can barely get an interview. Very few clients were hiring & when they did, there would be a crazy number of applicants for these jobs. Many people saw the tech sector as dead, & left for other jobs & specialties. The ones who stuck it out took significant pay cuts. The client now controlled the market, but once again, it was unhealthy as many talented IT individuals quit, & our younger generation was getting weary about pursuing technology as their future. Salaries plummeted & it became an Employer driven job market.
As it always does, our economy bounced back & recovered, but then again faltered. By 2003, the market was well balanced between Employers & Candidates. Candidates were going out on interviews & clients were still picky. salaries went up, & Employers in finance were now hiring more than ever. The market was healthy but still reeling from 2001. That lasted for quite a while, and then in 2008 & market again went into our “Great Recession”. For over 2 years, there were many more layoffs than there were hires in every industry, including tech. Our unemployment rate soared & salaries again plummeted. People were being laid off thousands at a time, & an employment crisis was at hand. Employers were going under daily & Candidates were unemployed longer than they have ever been before. However, in 2009 & 2010, the market slowly recovered & at a slower pace, the employment numbers were rising again.
Now the year is 2015. Our economy has once again recovered. The stock market is doing better than ever, & the tech space is growing at a very rapid pace. The unemployment rate is going down every month & technology is getting more interesting. The job market is also very hot right now in the tech space & new technology is advancing at light speed. Candidates are now being picky in the jobs that they interview for & their salary expectations have gone up. Clients have learned the lessons of 2 recessions & are being tighter on budgets, but opening up many more IT positions as their business grows. This leads us to the question we asked in the beginning of this article. Who is driving the market now? Employers or Candidates. The answer is both.
In this new age of opportunity employers & candidates must both learn how to be flexible & work together to create a strong IT space for now & for the future, & that is what I see happening every day. Employer’s salary budgets are going up, but they are also very picky as to who they hire & how much they are willing to pay them for their skill set. Candidates still have large expectations but are also willing to compromise their large expectations for a great work-life balance, benefits, or what they just feel is a great job. The key to enjoying a healthy job market is a true compromise on both sides with a real symbiotic relationship. If the Employer can not be flexible in their salary expectation & the skills that they expect the candidate to have from day 1, the position will stay open for a very long time, & it may end up going unfilled. If a candidate’s salary expectations are too high or if they are not willing to commute more than 30 minutes or want to telecommute full time, they will be limiting themselves & limiting their options significantly.
My take on this situation is a very positive one. I believe that we are moving in a direction where people are being honest with each other & themselves about what they really want & what they can give up. If a client wants to interview candidates for 4 weeks & then make a decision, many of those candidates will be well off the market & they’ll have to start from scratch. if a candidate wants to collect 3 offers before making a decision, there is a real possibility that none of the companies will make them an offer because they are not being real about what they want. What I’m seeing more of recently are great matches. Candidates meeting Employers, & both knowing that it’s a great fit immediately. Employers streamlining the process so that a candidate doesn’t have to come back in for 3 more rounds of interviews, & also pushing their management to make competitive offers. I’m also seeing candidates be honest with us & themselves about what they really want & what is important to them in their job search. Both parties are now on equal footing but it’s a balance that can be altered easily. Employers need to understand the days of candidates receiving multiple offers are coming back & Candidates need to know that the days of employers being very picky about who whey hire are also coming back. I believe if we all understand that if a good fit is a good fit everyone can work together to keep the job market healthy. The future looks bright in IT. Let’s keep it that way by working together.
Wishing you all the best in the new year