40 Different Ways Talent Experts Would Describe The Current Job Market (And Why)

September 11, 2018

While you could probably say this about any time in history, today’s job market is especially unique for two big reasons:

1) the huge influx of technology that is impacting everything – from the types of jobs that are available, to candidates’ job search habits, to companies’ recruiting processes

2) the record low 3.9% unemployment rate is driving major competition among companies and industries that are in need of talent

If you’re an experienced talent acquisition pro, it’s likely that none of this is new to you. However, that doesn’t mean that this job market isn’t still challenging to hire great talent in. And really, your experience with hiring talent in today’s market will vary greatly depending on where you are, your industry, what you’re hiring for and your company’s situation.

We’re all in this together though, so we thought it would be helpful to “poll the audience” so-to-speak, on how other talent acquisition, HR and recruiting execs at different companies are feeling about today’s job market and WHY they feel that way.

 

After talking to 20 different talent professionals, here were the 40 unique words and phrases they used to describe the current job market:

 

Asymmetrical

Asynchronous

Authentic

Challenging

Changing

Competitive

Culture-focused

Digitalized

Disjointed

Disloyal

Easier

Evolving

Exciting

Expensive

Fast-paced

Flexible

Global

Imbalanced

Impacted by automation

Inexperienced

Impatient

Noisy

Numbers-focused

On-demand

Opportunistic

Permanent

Personal

Potential-driven

Proactive

Purpose-Driven

Rapid

Retention-oriented

Saturated

Scarce

Skills-oriented

Specialization

STEM-centric

Tailored

Tight

Transparent

 

Among these descriptions, there were a few words that popped up more than once (more than one talent professional used the word as a way to describe the job market) which means these particular words are likely even more representative of today’s hiring climate than others:

 

Competitive –  5 times

Evolving – 3 times

Transparent – twice

Tight – twice

Challenging – twice

Authentic / Authenticity – twice 

Culture-focused / Cultural / Culture – twice

Opportunistic – twice

 

There you have it – the full list of words and descriptions of today’s job market.

Read on for more context as to WHY these talent experts felt that these were the best words to describe the job market they’ve been experiencing as of late:

 



Asymmetrical
Competitive
Opportunity

My perspective about the current hiring market is based on my experience hiring for positions at the same company for two very different markets — Silicon Valley and Omaha, NE. In Silicon Valley, job seekers in the tech market are savvy because know they have leverage in certain situations because skilled tech talent is in such high demand. Also, the competitive market actually encourages people to move from job to job because it’s the easiest way to get a pay increase in order to be able to afford the very high cost of living. That’s a big challenge for smaller businesses and makes it harder to compete with larger tech companies.

In Omaha, the unemployment rate has decreased and it’s gotten increasingly more difficult to hire staff because it’s a tighter hiring market now. However, in my experience, people are more likely to stay at an employer longer because they don’t have the same cost of living pressures, and I think the midwest values support the idea of longer term, steady work, not jumping from job to job. In Silicon Valley and in more and more big cities around the country, I see smaller and midsized businesses increasingly challenged by Google, Amazon, and other large tech companies to hire talent because they’re expanding to so many new markets. If people want to work at a big company, they have that option — and these large companies have the advantage of an army of recruiters and can put big money toward higher salaries.

-Marielle Smith, VP of People at GoodHire



Disjointed
Personal
Permanent

Disjointed: Many employers do not yet understand that the whole fabric of recruitment has changed. Even with job vacancies lasting months and into years, they refuse to evaluate why past strategies do not work in today’s market. If you’ve run the same ad 5 times, why will the 6th time be successful?

Personal: Candidates do not apply for jobs anymore. The job opportunity comes to them. They initially judge the opportunity on the information they are given and the way it is delivered to them. They want information that is relevant to them; why should they be interested in the employer, what type of career track does the job provide, why should I quit my job for this other job? The market now is one of candidate attraction and not candidate selection and many employers have not made that strategic transition.

Permanent: It would be easy to say that this is a temporary shift driven by a good economy and low unemployment. If that were true, eventually things will come into balance. We think this is a structural, permanent situation driven by multiple factors like increasingly complex job content, retirement waves and an educational system that is divorced from business needs.

-Jeff Zinser, Principal and Founder of Right Recruiting 



Noisy
Imbalanced
Challenging

At Visme we are a team of under 20 designers, developers, content curators and marketing individuals.  Although various HR platforms and resources are allowing for a wider access beyond local talent, it is providing both advantages and series of disadvantages to start-ups and SMB’s. 2 years ago we decided to forgo any efforts from recruiters; from our experience the talent we found internally with our own efforts resulted in higher quality candidates minus the recruiting fees and decided to tap into the global pool of candidates vs. localization of HR in our region.

Locally, at least in our region (Washington DC) the talent pool has become quite noisy. It’s filled with a wide range of new talent (in particular candidates going through short bootcamp academies) are sold on higher than norm expectations in finding a suitable job and higher salaries than most SMB’s are comfortable paying the rates desired.

A lack of training (which comes with time not a 8 week marathon course) is introducing new challenges for companies who are competing for talent and a shortfall of experience causes them to settle for candidates that desire high starting salaries but lack the training and insight required. This is causing higher turn over rates, lower productivity within teams that must take on the role of training the new candidates while continuing their daily challenges. This imbalance is also hurting the experienced candidates who are at times overshadowed by the new wave of new talent.

-Payman Taei, Founder of Visme 



Competitive
On-demand

Today’s hiring market is extremely competitive. From team leads to senior executives, the biggest challenge these days for most companies is finding top talent – especially finding it at the right time. Not only do the words “competitive” and “on-demand” describe what is currently happening in the hiring market, but I believe that this is what the future of work will look like. In the future, the competition for on-demand top talent will only increase.

-Martin Chikilian, VP, Talent Operations at Toptal 



Tight
Opportunistic
Exciting

The hiring market is tight because employment is low, but companies are experiencing growth and the economy is doing pretty well which means that talented people are being opportunistic about taking roles that allow them to move up in their career. As a recruiter this makes it hard sometimes, but frankly its an exciting time for recruiting and discovering exceptionally talent people.

-Kyle Bruss, Director of Talent Acquisition at Talent Plus, Inc. 



Purpose-driven
Evolving

Purpose-Driven – Today’s candidates want to work for companies that help them make a difference in the world, so companies need to highlight their mission and help candidates feel a connection to the work they’re doing. At Study.com, we talk about our mission of making education affordable, effective and engaging and about our Working Scholars program, which gives select Bay Area residents the opportunity to earn a no-cost college degree. Our community impact is one of the most important tools we have to get ahead in a competitive hiring market.

Evolving – Old hiring practices just don’t work anymore because today’s candidates have a different mindset. Companies need to constantly re-examine their practices to see what they can be doing differently to better attract talent. You should have a purpose, unique benefits, great company culture and ongoing learning opportunities that can create the type of work environment that current generations are looking for.

-Adrian Ridner, CEO & Co-Founder of Study.com 



Evolving
Tailored
Transparent

The hiring market evolves with every new piece of technology or update announced – stakeholders need to be switched on and responsive to these developments if they are to stay relevant to the industry. From first-time job seekers fresh out of university right up to the biggest tech employers out there, the rules of the game are proactivity and engagement.

That leads me to my next word – tailored. HR departments and hiring managers receive a huge volume of applications for every role they post – it’s now more important than ever to target your resume to the job you want and, if possible, the company you want to be a part of. Generic resumes fade all too easily into the background. Candidates should see their CVs as an extension of themselves – a professional snapshot of what they want to present to potential employers. Recruiters have a key part to play in this too: it’s absolutely essential to treat every serious candidate as unique, providing personalized guidance and support every step of the way. That’s how we ensure the right people are placed with the right employers.

That leaves transparency. 2017 made it undeniably clear that simply paying lip service to issues surrounding equality, diversity and inclusion is not acceptable. Employers and recruitment experts alike have a responsibility to actively fight inequality of any kind and place workplace transparency at the top of the agenda. Taking a proactive, transparent approach to matters concerning discrimination on any level is the way forward. In our case, for example, targeted Diversity and Inclusion strategies allowed Frank Recruitment Group to deliver the highest number of experienced female hires into their business last year. It really does have a positive impact on everything we do.

-Craig Dalziel, Senior Manager at FRG Consulting



Asynchronous
Fast-paced
Impacted by automation

Asynchronous – as the skills gap is widening. The job seekers have no sufficient information about the skills demanded by the business and how to acquire them.

Fast-paced – the needs to the employers shift quickly leaving the job seekers in the ”valley of death” possessing skills that are no longer on demand.

Impacted by automation – new technology solutions emerge daily to help recruiters fill roles and select the right candidates.

-Lilia Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify



Scarce
Proactive

Scarce – It is a tough market out there due to the amount of potential candidates being happy with their current job. This is not just a recruiting sales pitch but reality. Since this isn’t 2008-2013 companies need to be more competitive with what they offer in terms of salary, and advancement. The difference in a year has been amazing. In this short period of time I could find 3-4 quality candidates for every job opening and that was just in 2017. Fast forward to 2018 and you have to dig and spend double the time to find 2-3 qualified candidates.

Proactive- This to me is a no brainer. Organizations can no longer just place a job opening on their internal website and expect 200 quality applicants in a day. There needs to be more outreach done in order to be visible to quality talent. Basically, it’s time to be hunters once again.

-Andrew Jones, Executive Search Consultant at Source One

 

 


STEM-centric
Tight
Potential-driven

Today’s hiring market is in a unique position: digital natives are making their way into the market, bringing with them competitive and highly sought-after skill sets. As a result, CTO’s, CEO’s, HR Managers, and recruiters are forced to modify their hiring timeline – long gone are the days of multiple in-person interviews before extending a job offer; the tight market requires companies to hit the ground running in order to land top talent. With the candidate pool going through a generational shift, we’re less concerned about specific educational credentials and more concerned with potential: does this candidate exhibit the characteristics and drive that will help transform the trajectory of our brand? is a prime example of how the market has become potential-driven. With the rise of the digital age, paired with innovations in science and medicine, we’re seeing more and more candidates with STEM-centric skills and interests – but the competition amongst employers to land this top talent is increasing day by day.

-John Baker, CTO at DeployBot



Competitive
Digitalized

Competitive – Each industry has multiple companies all competing for the best talent. In order to stand out from the competition, your company needs to have innovative hiring techniques and growth opportunities available post-hiring.

Digitalized – With all the technological advances in the world, most hiring is now done online and through software. If your hiring hasn’t started implementing Digital profiles, video interviews, and other modern tools into your recruiting hiring strategy, you’ll be left behind!

-Crystal Huang, CEO of ProSky



Rapid
Changing
Challenging

The job market is rapid because top hires are fed up of long interview processes and often receive numerous job offers in the time it takes most companies to make a hiring decision, it is changing because millennials want a culture that fits with morals and ethics instead of a culture that clashes with these fundamental things, and it is challenging because recruiters know that they have to find candidates with soft skills but often do not know how to find them or where to look.

Dr. Leah Weiss, Corporate Leadership Consultant / GSB Lecturer  



Specialization
[Culture] Fit
Retention

In the case of our firm, we tend to seek people with highly specialized talents in data sciences, computer sciences, and financial services. The challenge for hiring managers is to determine which candidates are a qualified fit for the culture of the firm. Many hiring managers make the mistake of qualifying candidates only by their specialties and forgetting that well-organized teams are the real secret for companies to grow into new markets. Naturally, once you’ve organized a functional team, retention becomes one of the most important aspects – you need people to stay long enough to realize the group effort. I’ve found that if you get fit right, retention becomes more realistic.

-Eric Kovalak, CEO of Vellum Capital 



Competitive
Transparent
Evolving

Competitive – The job market is competitive for both the company and the candidates. Companies are vying with top competitors to recruit and retain the best staff. Alternatively, candidates are up against other highly educated and qualified potential employees. Everyone has to put their best foot forward.

Transparent – The current state of the job market is demanding more transparency in the application and interview process by candidates. Before, those interested in a position would email their resume to an unknown decision maker and never hear back. Companies are being expected to provide better application platforms and more communication with those interested in positions.

Evolving – The job market is constantly changing and evolving based on what the needs of employers are and what the needs of candidates are. Technology also has a huge impact on the evolution of the job market when it comes to application processes, required skills, etc.

-Robin Schwartz, PHR at MFG Jobs



Expensive
Disloyal

Expensive. To find highly-skilled positions, you can expect to pay top dollar. We have a tech-based eCommerce company. We are located in Florida, which is far away from the Bay Area, Seattle, and New York City. But because finding talent in the tech/eCommerce space is so challenging, it costs top dollar to hire them even if you aren’t located in the heart of the action.

Disloyal. This might sound a bit curmudgeonly, but it’s true. Less candidates are interested in becoming an integral part of the team unless they have ownership in the company and feel as though they are getting something beyond a paycheck. In many ways this is great. Employees deserve to feel as though they are in charge of their destiny, because in this hiring market, they *are* in charge. But it’s rough for employers, because we need to come up with innovative ways to retain top talent.

-Jan Bednar, CEO of Shipmonk



Saturated
Cultural

Saturated. The hiring market is absolutely saturated with talent (and not so much talent). When posting an advertisement for a job, whether this is on your own site, through a recruiter, or on a job website, the influx of applications is absurd. This doesn’t mean that every application you receive is a talented go-getter, far from it. In many instances, some of the applicants can barely speak English, which is particularly funny when applying for a content writing job. You really have to sift through each and every application to get to the top talent. This is the downside of online advertisements, it’s not just relevant candidates who read them, anyone can see them.

Cultural. Company culture has never been more important, and it is this aspect that countless applicants are focusing on in the interviews. Workplaces are becoming more and more diverse and relaxed. For this reason, the hiring market is going after people for their personality as much as their skill set. Companies want to know that their latest recruit will fit in just as well culturally as competently.

-Steve Pritchard, Founder of Cuuver.com 



Numbers
Global
Authentic

Numbers – Google has an acceptance rate 2 orders of magnitude less than Harvard. Meaning that Google almost 100 times harder to get into than Harvard when comparing acceptance rates. Job seekers are now getting into the mindset that the recruiting world is a ‘by the numbers’ business. If you want to land a big name company you need to apply to a bunch of companies. This means that when you give a candidate a job offer, you will likely be competing with another company.

Global – Companies that are faced with international talent and are constantly bombarded with applicants from just about every country. While this does mean more work in terms of filtering, this also means more opportunity for finding that ideal candidate.

Authentic- In order to appealing to younger talent, companies are going through a trend called the ‘Humanification of Companies’. In this movement many companies advertise their company in a less professional way because the way content itself is consumed today in a much less professional way.

-Jeff Butler, Workplace expert and Author at JButler International  



Competitive
Flexbile
Easier

Competitive – Workers move around more, so it is harder to keep talent.

Flexible – Workers are looking for non-financial benefits such as more vacation, ability to work from home, and core work hours versus punching a time clock.

Easier – Networking platforms such as LinkedIn make it easier to find talent.

-Heather Eason, CEO of Select Power Systems, LLC 



Skills
Culture
Authenticity

As a growing company, every hire is important in shaping our company’s future. We need people with specific hard skills, who are self-directed and able to develop into leadership roles in the future.

Equally important are the soft skills they bring to the table. When we say we are looking for a cultural fit, we mean someone who will be fun to work with, who shares our values, and will be emotionally invested in the success of the team and the company.

Lastly, I say authenticity. Written applications may hint at a fit but there is more to fit than a carefully groomed LinkedIn profile. We introduce potential hires to several team members over multiple rounds to gain confidence that they align with the values which drive our company direction.

-Rick Brooks-Hill, COO of Vonigo  



Inexperienced
Impatient

1. Inexperienced. Much of the time candidates these days have a lot less experience. The reason I often find is that they enter the workforce much later than people used to. These days it’s not rare to meet someone who got their first job at 22 years of age. The amount of experience they lack is an intangible that’s difficult to recover from.

2. Impatient. Employee turnover is high these days, for a couple of reasons. The most difficult to contend with is that millennial’s don’t feel fulfilled at their jobs and opt to leave after 6 to 8 months. This feels like a symptom of the instant gratification that envelopes our lives.

-Nate Masterson, HR Manager for Maple Holistics

 

 

For best practices on employer branding, recruiting and attracting talent into your organization in this tough hiring market, check out our free resources that we’ve made specifically for company leaders, HR and talent acquisition teams.


Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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