A hot topic of discussion for the last two years has been the candidate shortage when it comes to the employment market. The unfortunate reality is that this will not be changing any time soon, regardless if we have a recession or not. In the last jobs report, it was reported that just over 400,000 people reentered the workforce and there are still 5.1 million people sitting on the sidelines who “want a job” but have not done anything in the last 4 weeks to find a job or were not available for a job. When we have over 10 million open jobs, it is clear we do not, and will not, have enough candidates to fill our open roles any time soon.

Facts are stubborn things:

On November 30th of last year, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said this in a speech to the Brookings Institute: “Comparing the current labor force with the Congressional Budget Office’s pre-pandemic forecast of labor force growth reveals a current labor force shortfall of roughly 3-1/2 million people. This shortfall reflects both lower-than-expected population growth and a lower labor force participation rate” (FederalReserve). To put this into perspective, our national unemployment rate was measured at 3.6% in the most recent jobs report and our last local unemployment rate had the Tampa Bay area around 2.2%. This means that an overwhelming majority of people who want jobs, have one already.  We cannot change the facts, like it or not the candidate shortage will continue.

Now, if you are unemployed and struggling, please do not overhear me on this. I am not saying everyone has a role, but rather that employers cannot bank on a large number of unemployed individuals popping up to apply for open positions with their companies. All of this data tells us the candidate pool is small, competition is fierce, and there isn’t anything on the horizon that tells us this situation is going to change.

Important For Employers to Know

When recruiters like me reach out to potential candidates to explore the possibility of changing roles, the overwhelming response I see centers around career growth and salary increases. Granted, depending on the role, we also hear from people who want remote work, but those inquires, and jobs,  have dropped off significantly since the start of the year.

I will say there is a caveat to what I just wrote above. As we all face the threat of a potential recession, make no mistake that your employees are paying attention to your current business condition. If they think your business may be laying people off or struggling, they will leave you in a hurry. Employees, like employers, right now want safety. They will go where they feel their job is the safest.

If there is one thing that I would like to scream from the rooftops of Tampa Bay’s tallest tower, it is this: Your culture does not attract candidates. It may help validate their decision to join, it may help retain people who are considering leaving, but if your wages and benefits are not meeting the expectations of your employees, your culture is not relevant.

The Tampa Bay Hiring Market

For the past two years candidates have been calling their shots when it comes to the hiring process. They can, and have, dictated the parameters by which they will accept a new role. Even today, with the very real threat of a recession, that will not change.  To land new employees today, you have to sell them on your company.  What that means is that you will need to sell them on the viability of your business, the growth potential of the role, and that you offer competitive wages and benefits. With a candidate shortage, the employee experience is critical.

Please keep in mind that my perspective comes from working with privately held corporations, not large public companies. Publicly traded companies have an entirely different set of challenges and problems they need to work through. While they often times can offer more career growth, or flexibility, at the same time they also can offer more risk in a recessionary period like this. All you need to do is open your favorite news site and see what large company is laying off employees today. This is not to say one is better than the other, but rather that they are facing different challenges and different situations.

Ultimately, our goal is to help employees find better jobs than what they have and help companies continue to improve their businesses. We want to work with value-based businesses and career focused individuals so we can help our Tampa Bay community grow. If you are a hiring manager or business owner trying to navigate through these cloudy economic times, I will invite you to follow my newsletter the Tampa Bay Employment Snapshot that I publish each month.  Take a look here: Tampa Bay Employment Snapshot



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