If you’re paying attention to the economic news at all, you’ve probably heard that it’s a particularly good time to be looking for a job. After a decade-long economic boom—now the longest economic expansion in U.S. history–unemployment stands at near-record lows, with media reports constantly featuring employers desperate to fill open positions.
With 55 percent of companies saying they plan to hire in 2019 (up from 46 percent the previous year), more than one million net new jobs were created in the first half of this year, making an already tight job market even tighter.
More of the same is on the horizon for the rest of the year, according to employers themselves. As a recent survey by the temporary employment firm Manpower puts it, “Job seekers continue to be in the driver’s seat, as U.S. hiring intentions hit a 13-year high in the third quarter of 2019.”
There are some important footnotes to the story of a strong job market, however.
The historically low official unemployment rate—which has been hovering around 3 percent, the lowest in half a century—contains an important asterisk. It only tracks those who are actively seeking employment, failing to account for those who have given up on their search out of frustration. A more meaningful barometer, the labor force participation rate, is near its lowest point in more than 40 years. And of course, the economy is now flashing warning signals that a recession may well be on the short-term horizon.
The American job market is clearly undergoing structural change. We see within our own practice that employers are increasingly open to virtual employees, a trend that is borne out in the overall statistics. According to one report, 40% more U.S. employers now offer flexible workplace options than just five years ago. Some high-profile employers (especially in high-demand technical fields like computer coding) are dropping requirements for college degrees altogether, focusing instead on applicable job skills.
Fully half of all U.S.-based Apple employees do not have a college degree, for instance. And the online recruiting organization Glassdoor reports that such marquee brands as Google, Hilton, Bank of America and IBM now employ members of upper management who do not have a traditional four-year college degree.
Just over the horizon is perhaps the biggest potential tsunami of all—the ripple effects of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the job market.
The consulting firm McKinsey & Company has estimated that as much as $2 trillion of global economic activity could be diverted to automation, simply by harnessing the technologies already available. A widely-cited 2013 study by Oxford University estimates that nearly half of all U.S. jobs are susceptible to automation within the next 20 years.
Implications for the Search Industry and Our Practice
All these forces, of course, render the task of identifying top passive candidates even more important than it usually is. After all, the top talent companies need in the executive suite generally is not sitting on a beach. They are already working somewhere else, perhaps for a competitor.
With approximately seven million open jobs at present, the employment arena will remain a seller’s market for at least the short- to mid-term, notwithstanding the ominous economic signs. Blue-chip C-level management talent—the kind that can alter the trajectory for companies—will especially be in a position to exert significant leverage. Flexible work schedules and bonuses remain the top incentives driving potential job switchers, according to research compiled by the recruiting firm Robert Half.
It’s not just a question of who will fill these important positions, but how long it takes to land them. Gad Levanon, the chief economist of the Conference Board, a respected business advocacy group, notes that the time to fill positions is near an all-time high.
One of the main benefits of engaging a seasoned executive recruiting organization is to narrow that time window. With our exceptional people insights, dedicated passive candidate research capabilities and probing, values-based behavioral interviews, we can tap specialized talent pools that are not generally available to most companies.
In a period of near-full employment, when talented professionals enjoy considerable leverage, it pays to consider specialized seasoned help in filling crucial upper management roles.
Established in 1990, Torch Group is a nationally recognized, boutique retained executive search firm focused on senior management, executive, and C-level talent that has been selected and evaluated based upon a comprehensive set of competencies for mission-critical roles.
Key industries and business sectors we serve include foodservice, hospitality, food & beverage, consumer products, construction & building materials, software & technology and manufacturing.
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- Posted by Torch Group
- On August 26, 2019
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