Pendulums make for pretty good employment cycle analogies because they both have a recognizable arc, apex, and return path. Regardless the size, pendulums typically aren’t dangerous unless you turn your back on them. That’s when you don’t see “it” coming until…..Wwhhhaaack!
The first time you get caught flat-footed because the market’s best candidate took a role elsewhere (or worse, a better offer at one of your competitors) can be sobering leaving you with quite a headache.
Several times during my recruiting career I’ve had the opportunity to watch this pendulum effect as employment markets heated up and cooled off, only to invariably grow hot again. The hiring managers who best leverage the pendulum’s momentum seem to follow a few simple patterns that work to prevent them from getting blind-sided.
Here are a few suggestions to consider as the current technical labor pendulum prepares to swing back:
Stay in touch.
Mentally divide the general unemployment trends and percentages you hear in the news reports by about half. The numbers given on the evening news are typically for the general population at large. Yet skilled technical professionals typically experience unemployment at around half the rate of the general working population. Seek sources of information more in touch with the technical hiring environment in which you exist. Examine the state of your industry and whether it is growing or declining independent from the state of the economy. Be sure to stay abreast of trends within other closely related industries for any early indicators of what may be headed your way soon.
Listen for clues.
Keep regular tabs on how tight the variable labor markets and full-time candidate pools really are. But keep these two labor pools separate in your mind because during weak economic times you’ll find career consultants in full-time jobs and full-time minded professionals willing to do consulting work. At least until the economy improves. During interviews, be prepared to have open candid conversations about this topic.
Look behind you.
Don’t be surprised by a recovery that happens faster than you realized. During the last recovery in fourth quarter 2004, there was a sudden rebound in the technical labor market that caught many hiring managers by surprise. Because of the stark lack of an expected gradual trend it was not uncommon for hiring managers to finally land a consultant or employee on the 2nd or 3rd try. The most common causes for this were complacency and a lack of labor market intelligence. Unfortunately the result often means filling a seat with a runner up instead of your top pick.
Your goal as a hiring manager is to have your offers accepted. Here are 3 quick tips in a transitioning market to keep in mind.
- Avoid complacent thinking which leads you to assume the candidate will still be there when you’re ready to make the offer. Stay in touch with peer managers at other companies to gain a sense of who is hiring, and at what volume and pace. This provides you a valuable snapshot of the hiring market beyond merely that of your own company.
- If you are concerned about the possibility of a candidate’s competing opportunity, be sure to ask. It’s only reasonable that both you and the candidate be able to gain clarity instead of making assumptions about where the other stands.
- If anything will delay your decision, then keep your top 2 or 3 candidates informed of the hiring status regularly, and ask that they extend you the same courtesy on a schedule that is realistic for both of you.Regular communication will avoid anyone feeling “strung along” by the other party.