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Is the candidate’s market over?

With recent hiring freezes and rounds of layoffs, some are wondering if the Great Resignation has ended—or at least slowed.

Is the candidate’s market over?
[Photo: THEPALMER/Getty Images]

For the past year, we’ve written a lot about the Great Resignation and the power position today’s job candidates have. But with hiring freezes and layoffs now making the news, do they signal the end of the hottest job market for candidates in years? Not exactly, experts say.

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“I’m seeing it with the stereotypical venture-backed unprofitable companies,” says Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting, and culture consulting firm. “The brick-and-mortar financial, insurance, and manufacturing companies in the United States—I don’t see them doing layoffs and hiring freezes.”

Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of career site The Muse agrees. “For the most part, layoffs currently have been concentrated in the tech sector and crypto, as businesses that had been flooded with capital several months ago need to right-size as the investment markets pull back,” she says.

However, the candidates’ market is slowing down, likely in response to uncertainty in the economy.

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“Outside of tech, many companies are exhibiting more caution, slowing hiring, or focusing on their most critical roles,” says Minshew. “Layoffs are still rare, given the competitive hiring market; many businesses are reticent to part with employees who were so hard to hire just a few months ago. That said, given there are almost two open jobs for every person looking for work, there is still a lot of opportunity for job searchers in today’s market.”

Minshew says workers are being more careful in assessing their choices, and businesses are more cautious about offering aggressive perks and accommodations for luring reluctant workers.

“Competition for candidates has cooled slightly; it’s not as strong a candidate’s market as it was six months ago, but job seekers with the right skills do still have a tremendous amount of power in this economy,” she says.

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How Job Seekers Should Approach the Current Market

If you’re fairly risk-averse and don’t have an emergency fund or safety net, Minshew says it could be a smart time to wait and keep an eye on the economy. “That said, there are a lot of businesses still hiring and bringing people in,” she says. “So, I’m also seeing a lot of workers say, ‘I don’t want to miss the moment.’ The demand for new employees is definitely still there.”

If you do decide to look for a new job, be cognizant of how you’re positioned in the market, says Ray O’Neil, franchise developer at Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency that focuses on industrial, administrative, and skilled trades. Employers who overlooked gaps in employment during COVID-19 won’t be as understanding today. “Recent work history is critical,” he says.

Candidates also need to find a way to stand out. “With HR applicant-tracking systems, you’re literally a number and name in the system,” says O’Neil. “Find a way to pop.”

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While it’s important to submit your résumé through the proper channel, O’Neil suggests sending a handwritten note to the decision maker to let them know you’re in the system and are sincerely interested in this position.

“If we are, in fact, in a recession, they are going to be flooded with candidates,” says O’Neil. “We are way overdue for a correction/recession. Companies may be tentative about making that next hire. It comes down to simple things you need to do to sell yourself.”

But be humble, adds Gimbel. “You should definitely have humility,” he says. “But you have to look out for yourself, too. Job seekers should be making a case for themselves constantly as to the value they bring the organization.”

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The employee/employer relationship is like a marriage, says Gimbel. “If you never say, ‘I love you’ to your spouse, bring flowers, or do special things, and it’s one-sided, things will fall apart,” he says. “The basics are doing what your job is and getting paid for it. Each side fulfills those ends of the social contract. But both sides need to do more.”

Gimbel suggests that companies train and invest in in their employees and give them greater opportunities. Employees need to go beyond the job description and care about their fellow employees. “They need to ask themselves, ‘What else can I do to add value?'” he says. “Then employees should take inventory of all the value that they add. When you do that, you’re writing your own paycheck, your own raise, and your own bonus.”

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