Is there a disconnect between what the recruitment industry is saying and what jobseekers are experiencing? Our recent poll suggests there are conflicting views, but the true answer is… nuanced.
In February, the US reported the addition of 311,000 jobs to the market and total US employment increased by 253,000 in April, while figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed an increase in payrolled employees for March of 31,000.
Some would call that a hiring boom. We recently ran a LinkedIn poll about the challenges of recruitment during a hiring boom, which attracted 4,670 answers. And a question.
What hiring boom?
At least 10% of those who commented asked it. To take one example: “Excuse me? Hiring boom? Where?” So are we or are we not in the middle of a talent pipeline crisis? Well, it’s a matter of perspective.
“In terms of labor market trends right now there are two competing narratives,” says Todd Weneck, LHH Vice President, Technology Practice. “Number one is that in the world of tech there are massive layoffs. “It was beginning back in the first quarter of 2022, so it’s not a new trend but it is a continuing trend and, of course, it’s been making headlines every day. Yet sometimes on the same web page or same article there’s a competing narrative that there continues to be a skills shortage for technologists, stateside.”
“At LHH we have to peel back that onion and dive into the layers and when we do we find, interestingly enough, that both narratives are true.”
Two sides of the same coin
Although the big tech layoffs were sweeping, says Weneck, nearly half of them were not, in fact, tech employees. “The employees they’re parting with – or that are being affected by layoffs - aren’t necessarily technologists by trade. We’re seeing some of these layoffs affecting HR or talent sourcing functions.”
But this is only part of the picture. How much booming is actually going on depends very much on the sector – and location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1 in 4 vacancies in the US in April were in Healthcare and Social Assistance – amounting to 64.2k jobs. Professional and Business Services openings rose by 43K while Leisure and Hospitality accounted for a further 31K.
Meanwhile, in France, technology-related job postings decreased from 9,960 in January to just 6,828 in April, marking a pronounced decline across the first four months of 2023, according to GlobalData. But that’s still nearly 7 times the US rate. In the UK, vacancies in the utilities industries rose by 20% across Q1 compared to the previous quarter, followed by Arts, Entertainment & Recreation at 14.4% and Admin and Support at 7.9%.
Tech skills are desperately needed – or will be, soon, for roles which are still crystallizing. The digital future of work is evolving so fast it would take a clairvoyant HR guru to line up the exact talent required in the right order, at the right time.
What’s that coming over the hill?
We are at the dawn of the data and AI-fueled Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it’s probably fair to say that those who lived through the first didn’t have any real understanding of its impact as train tracks were laid and looms were mechanized.
So how should employers – and employees - manage this demanding decade?
1. Go with the flow
In times of great innovation progress surges and then ebbs... then surges again. Early 2023 may look like a slowdown – but wise employers will calibrate their hiring across a longer-term trajectory and factor in industry trends when planning their talent strategy.
Over-hiring has been blamed in part for the tech layoffs of 2022-23 but under-hiring can be just as problematic, leaving existing workers under pressure, demotivated and more likely to quit. So don’t shy away from hiring for those critical roles.
Employees and job seekers should consider finding work in the sectors that are currently growing, especially if you have in-demand skills that translate across industries. Taking your accounting skills from Tech to Healthcare is also an opportunity to diversify your experience!
2. Be serial skillers
The World Economic Forum predicted in 2020 that by 2030 more than 1 billion of us would need to be reskilled to meet the demands of the digital age. It warned that failing in this endeavor could cost $11.5 trillion in GDP for the world’s G20 countries. This was in January - before a global pandemic hammered home the necessity for digital literacy at almost every level.
Creating an agile workforce with ongoing upskilling in its DNA will help weather industry downswings through redeployment and internal mobility – and be swift to realize the benefits of industry upswings.
To be part of that agile workforce, smart employees will be researching the trends in their own sector and working out what training they need to request from their manager. Smart jobseekers will be doing the same and perhaps getting that training independently, to polish up their offering for their next application.
3. Use your intelligence
Artificial intelligence is discombobulating the picture. Employers must try to gauge exactly what it means in terms of staffing across the next ten years. Goldman Sachs Research is unequivocal about the potential – a 7% rise in global GDP over the next decade, alongside 1.5% productivity growth, but what this translates to in human resource terms is less apparent.
However, the increasing noise about the value of soft-skills alongside AI means human teams working hand-in-hand with cutting edge technology will always be valued.
For workers, rather than ducking away from AI anxiety, meeting it head on and working out how it could enhance your workplace value could make all the difference. The same applies for jobseekers; candidates who interview with an optimistic, pragmatic and informed approach to working with AI are likely to do well.
4. Lead on
Finding and developing future leaders isn’t easy, especially in the current climate, but it’s crucial to steadying the voyage of any company. Assessment and growth programs are an engine for the near, mid and long-term future of any organization – don't neglect them, even if there’s more of a gentle buzz than a boom going on right now.
If you’re a leader, continue to learn and keep your skills fresh. LHH offers leadership development programs that can help ensure you’ll have the skills to lead your teams through any economic climate.
Boom, bust or burgeoning – what's the way ahead?
Whether you feel you’re surfing the wave of the hiring boom or being left flapping in its wake, we’re here for you. Partnering with a top human resources organization like LHH and making use of its wide network of contacts and decades of expertise can help build a future-proof strategy for employers and employees alike.
Our specialists in Career Transition & Mobility can assist with employees heading for change through upskilling, redeployment, retirement or outplacement.
The Recruitment Solutions team can take the weight off the HR department when it comes to seeking and sifting the best candidates, running pre-emptive interviews and checks and negotiating the best packages.
And Leadership Development can help both employers and employees grow into a management team purpose-built to navigate the choppy waters of the next decade and beyond.