There are two commonly-held ideas that I’ve heard over and over again in the media:
1. Almost no one is hiring.
2. If you’re one of the few companies that is hiring, it’s a “buyer’s market.”
These “trends” probably appeal to your common sense. Huge layoffs grab headlines, not news about companies that are hiring.
And the idea that it’s a “buyer’s market” is reinforced by jaw-dropping news video of hundreds of people standing in line for a single open job. Those well-publicized events have led some in the business media to encourage companies to staff up now because, with so many job-seekers you’ll likely get talent at “10 to 20 percent off!”
To learn what’s what, I spoke with my colleague Basil Gordon, Director of Business Services for the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation.
“The reality is there are plenty of open jobs in the Philadelphia region and around the country, but this isn’t getting much press,” Basil says.
“One huge employer in hiring mode right now is the Federal government,” Basil continues. “In Pennsylvania alone there are more than 1,600 Federal jobs available,” he said.
And the trend is expected to continue. “The government is expected to hire at least as many employees this fiscal year as they did last — 136,791 employees or more,” Basil says.
The private sector is also hiring briskly. “Approximately 5,000 health-care jobs were posted early this year in Philadelphia,” Basil says, “and 1,500 to 2,000 jobs were posted in the insurance, sales and marketing, banking and financial services and pharmaceutical fields.”
As for the idea that it’s a “buyer’s market,” that’s not quite true, either. Record unemployment is resulting in more applicants for open positions. But that doesn’t make it easier to hire. Why? Because …
* You may have to reconsider your “must-haves” if you want to fill the position quickly.
*Negotiating hard to drive the salary down may backfire later.
Here are three things you can do to cope with these realities:
- Take your time. If you rush through resumes and cover letters, you’ll miss essential information. Take your time and go through them thoroughly. Review them in the morning when you’re more alert, and stop if you get tired or frustrated.
- Cast a wider net. Strict “match” requirements may exclude great prospective employees. “Avoid rejecting someone who doesn’t have all the skills – on paper – that you’re looking for, but who might have the determination and work ethic to become great,” Basil says. Look for qualities they have – like optimism, perseverance and the ability to collaborate with others – that typically are assessed during the interview and testing phase – not by reviewing a resume.
- Be careful about hard-bargaining on salary. Establish a salary you can afford to pay and stick to it. But if someone needs a lot more than that, and you successfully negotiate them down, you might pay later. How? Underpaid staff may get part-time jobs to offset low salaries, run a side business (right from your office!) or work only as hard as they think the salary calls for. They will also jump ship at the next better offer. Want to be different? Offer more than an applicant requests. The extra salary is an investment in loyalty.
When and how you hire will be based on your philosophy about how change happens in the economy.
Companies that are proactive about creating valuable products and services at competitive prices will likely help drive economic recovery and benefit from it first.
The ones who are waiting for good news before doing anything would be ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
In other words, if you’re not planning to hire in the near future, it might be wise to imagine that you are.