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What The Heck Is Going On?

We are seeing a profound shift in the job market – and it’s ongoing!

March 16, 2020 – the day I call Covid Day (I have mentioned this before in other Blog entries).  We went home and career ‘things’ started to evolve:

  • We had time to think about the work situation we were in – while we sat at home.
  • We had time to think about the family situation we were in – while with our family.
  • The work environment result was the Great Resignation – and the ensuing job moves, enlarged salary offers and the notion that hybrid and/or remote arrangements were now and likely forever the new normal.  There was also a lessor talked about change in family roles and income streams.  This has all played into our job market and economy today. 

Everyone has had at least one new position since March 2020 (so it seems). 

Every client wants someone who has a stable job history, yet most candidates we are encountering have changed jobs once (and sometimes twice) since Covid Day.  Their reasoning was sound; it was also somewhat reactionary based on Covid timing and the situation they found themselves in. 

It’s the second job that may be better than the (reactionary) first new job.  The candidate back story (not often overtly stated) is that they reacted to the times and changed positions.  Now they want something that seems to resemble what they left.  The green grass of the new position they took during the early parts of Covid was not always what they anticipated. 

We have multiple new terms since March, 2020 as well . . . . . coming to us quickly . . . . . .

Varying news sources are reporting on new terms that are ‘trendy’ in the job market.  This is only a very partial and recent list:

  • Resenteeism (04/10/24) – defined as a worker’s tendency toward low productivity because they're resentful.  
    • The worker resents their job but won’t leave.  Lack of advancement opportunities, a toxic corporate culture, an excessive workload and feelings of burnout can all contribute to resenteeism.
  • Dry Promotion (it’s back – 04/23/24) – employers are using this tactic again . . . . . a new title but no raise.  It is designed to be a retention technique. 
  • Hush-cation (05/18/24) – remote workers are taking vacations but not telling anyone (they are ‘working’ remotely but from somewhere more fun – and ‘work output’ is questionable).
  • Busy braggers (06/04/24) – touting career accomplishments and persistently sharing how busy they are with their colleagues or managers.  They continuously boast about their successes, whether big or small, to appear more professional.

Everyone is open to talking (and yes, we are inviting them to do so).

We as a retained search firm reach out proactively and overtly to candidates who are busily working in their current roles.  We find that many of those people are open to conversations.  Are they ready to leave?  Not necessarily, but they are ready to listen.  We talk about their current role and reason for joining the company (if recent) and reason they are open to a conversation with us.  They are commonly open to learning more. 

Salaries are not that important – until they are. 

We can’t (legally) and don’t ask about current salary.  We do talk about ranges to ensure we are not wasting the candidate’s time.  Comments from candidates often include something along the lines of salary not being important BUT . . . . .

  • They won’t move laterally (and certainly won’t go backwards).
  • They still hope that they can convince the employer that they are worth going above the range. 

This is a conversation we have early in our candidate engagement conversation and one we have again (and again) throughout the recruiting process. 

What does this mean?

The honest answer – I am not 100% sure but I have theories. 

  • We are likely to experience a stabilizing job market over the next year or two. 
  • Employers understand the cost of turnover.  Retention programs are slowly growing in prevalence. 
  • Openings at the senior level are no longer simply refilled.  They are reviewed in light of the current business environment.  Positions are being redesigned more strategically. 
  • For small to medium businesses, hybrid will still be a point of discussion and a limited option but remote work will slowly fade away.  (We are seeing this trend already.) 

We will continue to track trends and evolving outcomes

The phrase, “may you live in interesting times” is a truism today.  This phrase was commonly thought to be an ancient Chinese curse.  That is not the full truth – it is a relatively modern phrase that came into popular use in the 1930’s.  While many theories exist regarding its origin and original wording, it is true today.  The phrase is commonly used when times are the most ‘interesting’. 

We can use the saying today – while we try to plan our career path for our future.