It’s a fortunate time to be at work, and the majority of the official labor market figures bear this out.
Those who want to keep their jobs are better able to do so, while those who’ve recently lost jobs are finding new ones more quickly. And those who want to switch have a lot of choices and are voluntarily quitting their jobs to pursue new opportunities, often on the Monday immediately following Friday’s farewell happy hour.
Confidence is abundant among higher wage earners, as wage pressure is building for those fortunate enough to be able to invest some of their earnings. For many others, there’s enough optimism about the number of jobs in the market as to bring about confidence in buying houses and making other large purchases.
The labor market mystery and the great skills mismatch
But alas, as the great poet Virgil noted, the truly fortunate are the ones able to understand the causes of things. And so for all this good news about the economy, we don’t really understand how record numbers of job openings are appearing each month, yet fewer are being filled.
Such an inconsistency in the labor market doesn’t sit well with professional economists, who tend to regard the squeak of a mouse as a better indicator of an ailing market than the roar of a lion as an indicator of a healthy one. Therefore, the easy answer is jobs growth is actually slowing down, and it may have started doing so early in the year, just when we thought the Great Recession was about to disappear from sight in the rearview mirror.
But professional glibness doesn’t get us very far in understanding the causes of this persistent labor market mystery, which until only recently was foolishly described as a “skills gap,” but is now properly understood as a skills mismatch. Thus aptly named, it reveals an unfortunate condition in which employers and job seekers share equally, and to their mutual disadvantage.
The right jobs and the right people will always have trouble finding each other, regardless of economic conditions. But in a robust economy, it will become especially difficult for them to find one another at the right time.
They want you as a new recruit
What’s good for jobseekers isn’t necessarily good for recruiters, in as much as when economic conditions improve, talented workers become more likely to leave one organization to join another. That puts increasing numbers of highly qualified candidates on the market, more than most employers can feasibly engage by their current recruiting operations.
From the recruiter’s point of view, key positions also take the longest to fill, in many cases much longer than the average of 42 days. Good candidates disappear from the job market very quickly, getting snapped up by one company while other organizations are still marshaling candidates through their early round interviews.
Just as jobseekers need to prioritize activities and complete them in a timely manner, recruiters need to prioritize roles, keep the candidate pipeline filled, and act fast on good candidate leads. In the brisk job market of September 2016, time is of the essence for both jobseekers and recruiters.
Expert recruiters know how to move good candidates through the hiring process quickly. And so they’ll be the first to say that often the timeliest thing a jobseeker can do is respond promptly to a good recruiting contact.
There is reason to be positive about the jobs market, and even more reason for jobseekers to be positive about the job search, and to not put off to tomorrow what ought to be done today.