It’s a funny old time out there in the job market…..

I’m often asked “what’s the job market like” by hirers and those about to embark on a job search.

For the main they want to know whether there is a volume of opportunities for job seekers and a volume of candidates for companies hiring.

The answer to that question? It used to be a fairly straightforward one.

Seasonal peaks and troughs usually occur at the same time; budgets get approved at seemingly similar times. Christmas comes around for us all during which time we ponder our lot and whether a move is to be considered in the new year.

These were the things that affected the job market.

And then Brexit came around….

Shortly followed by a pandemic and a never before even considered, Lockdown…..

It changed the workplace landscape completely and some may believe forever. (But that’s another conversation)

Lockdown, all of a sudden, the majority of folk on LinkedIN were working at home. Those not needing to be on employers’ site or even Customer site, now needed to adapt to getting motivated in their homes.

Brexit, whether we individually agreed with the result or not, seemingly made us all look more diligently, and pessimistically, at our job prospects, security. For employers, there was a feeling that fewer candidates would be available.

Whether or not this was actually the case, is neither here nor there. If something is felt, and it adjusts, or affects behaviour, the pessimistic outcome will be experienced.

So, now when I’m asked, “what’s the job market like?”, my answer is far more nuanced.

If it’s a customer asking, my answer runs into asking them to consider things like:

  • The existence of a clear strategy to grow and succeed for their organisation
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Provision of family healthcare
  • Whether bonuses have actually been paid and at what level through Covid

These things are prioritised in terms of the order as to what is now important for candidates.

You will notice the absence of base salaries and other perks like company cars.

For jobseekers, the answer looks like:

  • Can you demonstrate you can adapt, or have adapted, to an agile working environment?
  • Employers are taking far fewer leaps of faith on transferable skills and so a move will most probably be within sector for a small(er) promotion than pre-2019.
  • An assessment of their collegiate working skills/demeanour

If you think I haven’t answered the question of “what’s the job market like?”, I haven’t; but I can’t until the questioner has provided an assessment of how they score against the criteria noted in bullets above.

If scores are low for both jobseekers and organisations, there will be a struggle to attract top-talent, and jobseekers will fail to impress at interview.

The ‘availability’ of opportunities, for both hirers and candidates, is now NOT the question.

The question hirers and candidates first need to ask themselves is “are we ready to articulate upfront and immediately in the most complete and therefore attractive way, around things that NOW matter to us, in order to fulfil the needs of the other party?”

If not, candidates won’t engage in first contact, and hirers will continue, in the main, to offer oblique reasons for not progressing candidates.