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The State of US Employment: Companies Need to Step Up Their Game

May 17, 2018 2:17:48 PM

Frust

After nearly nine years of slow but steady growth, the US economy has turned a corner, creating a job market more robust than in any recent year. With hiring on the rise, people and companies are experiencing positive and negative effects, all while wondering—what should I know and what steps should I take to make the most of today’s “employee-market”? For people, both employed and unemployed, the job market is positioned in their favor with ample opportunities and benefits available for the taking. For companies, now’s the time to get creative with their hiring needs, job requirements and benefit packages, to recruit, and more importantly retain, what’s left of today’s top talent pool.

With about 6 million jobs open at companies in the US1, demand for workers is at all all-time high, while the supply of skilled talent is reaching new lows. To answer the question—what steps should I take to make the most of today’s employee-market—companies need to do one thing: step up their game.

Read on to learn which industries are feeling the effects of today’s ultra-tight job market the most, and how companies in those fields can make the most of the times by stepping up their game.

The Industries and Jobs Most In-Demand

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics disclosed the industries with a less than 3% unemployment rate, deeming these nine areas the most sought-after, and thereby, the most competitive to recruit for. First on the list, with an unemployment rate of 1.7% is Management, followed closely by1:

  • Architecture and Engineering
  • Education, Training and Library
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical
  • Legal
  • Life, Physical and Social Science
  • Computer and Mathematical
  • Community and Social Service
  • Business and Financial Operations

Within each of these industries, varying job types exist, some more coveted than others. While within each of these industry sectors the job market is tight, there still remain roles that companies are having a difficult time hiring for. At McCallion Staffing, a regional provider of talent acquisition and service that’s collected data on job market and employee trends since its founding in 1979, traditional clerical office work and warehouse jobs are experiencing much higher unemployment rates because: 

  1. Available candidates are having issues passing drug tests
  2. Available candidates have large time and skills-gaps on their resumes from the recession

In each of these scenarios where a) recruiting top talent for professional positions is highly competitive due to a tight labor pool, and b) recruiting qualified talent for traditional positions is difficult due to adverse effects of the times in which we’re living, companies are challenged to find creative ways to fill their positions with talent that will get the job done right.

How Companies Can Step Up Their Game

To meet the job market where it’s at with a tight talent pool, companies must understand the dynamics and desires of the talent available to successfully recruit and retain them. Currently, more than one-in-three American labor force participants are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data2. Keeping this in mind, companies should be adjusting their culture to meet this generation’s top needs, including:

  • Flexibility for Work-Life Balance
  • Purpose-Driven Organization
  • Accessible & Transparent Leadership

To meet these needs, companies need to step up their workplace culture game by offering creative, out-of-the-box solutions for flexibility, such as remote working and daycare allowances, to name a few. In addition, having a compelling company mission and hard and fast set of core values to recruit towards will help ensure a culture fit for the candidates you intend to hire, and in turn, enable a higher retention rate. Beyond this, transparency at the leadership and management level is crucial to making Millennials feel engaged in their work and to creating a culture where they feel empowered and involved. Finally, increasing salary and employee-benefit packages to stay competitive is an absolute necessity—and not just for Millennials but for any talented candidate who’s still available in today’s employee-market. If these workplace incentives sound too demanding, think of it this way: in today’s employee-market, people work for a company because they want to, not because they have to.

Contrary to stepping it up, another way companies are meeting market demands is actually by decreasing the qualifications or requirements they previously deemed non-negotiable to a job description. It sounds counterintuitive, however, with a drug epidemic sweeping the nation and skills-gaps from the recession plaguing the resumes of potential candidates, companies are succumbing to the reality of the current workforce conditions when and where possible. 

For corporate positions, stepping up will require a company to cultivate a more Millennial-conducive environment, while for more traditional positions, it might be necessary for companies to reduce job requirements, and in their place, offer on-the-job training to get new hires up to speed.

Looking to the Future of the US Job Market

In light of the ultra-tight workforce conditions, many companies are embracing culture and requirement changes to more effectively attract existing talent. For critical positions that simply need to be filled now, staffing firms are helping companies find the talent that they can’t find by tapping into their proprietary talent networks and databases. Of course, staffing firms are also being affected by the job market with fewer candidates to choose from; however they’re still in a prime position to identify the qualified candidates that less-experienced professionals may overlook.

In looking to the future of the US economy and job market for the rest of 2018 and beyond, there are a few trends that can help companies prepare. 

  • Increasing wages due to the heightened competition of recruiting top talent
  • Combating and expanding the skills gap with loosened job requirements
  • Increasing manufacturing jobs as the economy and consumer spend rises
  • Declining population due to medication use and unfortunate drug epidemic
  • Increasing transparency in salary, benefits and leadership decisions

While the expansion of the US economy has led to the onset of hiring challenges for companies, it has also brought with it workforce trends that will appeal to today’s majority workforce populations. The rising demand for jobs and lower supply of candidates is causing companies to take their culture and employee incentive programs to new, unchartered heights, creating cultures based on the principles of purpose, people and flexibility—and it’s not likely that they’ll revert backwards anytime soon.

To learn more about how your company can step up its game to attract, recruit and retain top talent in today’s ultra-tight job market, contact us today.

Sources

  1. How to Profit From the Ultra-Tight Job Market Right Now, Fortune, 2018
  2. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, Pew Research Center, 2018

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