Here’s What's Going To Happen In The Job Market Over The Next Four Months

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The job market changed almost overnight. Millions of people got vaccinated, restrictions lifted, states reopened and the trillions of dollars from government stimulus programs made its way into the economy. This dramatically improved the mood of the nation.

We ricocheted from fear to excitement. Conversations switched to the booming stock and real estate markets and away from Covid-19. You couldn’t escape getting roped into discussing crypto currencies and NFTs. After all the layoffs and hardships, it’s time to talk about finding a new job or switching careers.

There’s a prediction of an upcoming “great resignation.” The term, coined by a college professor, suggests that nearly everyone will start looking for a new job. Yes, there will be a large number of people who will be on the job hunt, but it’s not that simple. 

The Summer Slowdown

Historically, once the summer starts, hiring slows down. The reason is straightforward, people start to take their vacations. The hiring manager is away, then the human resource professional managing the interview process heads to the beach, followed by the comings and goings of other pivotal people needed to be involved. It’s sometimes nearly impossible to get things done.

As you can imagine, after being stuck indoors for over a year, it’s a foregone conclusion that people can’t wait to travel. There will be a mad rush to go somewhere, anywhere as long as it’s not staying at home. In addition to the usual slowdown, the odds are high that this summer may be unusually quiet with regards to hiring because of this new phenomenon.

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I reference odds, because these things aren’t always black and white. There is a high probability that a larger number of people are still concerned about the virus and will hold off on any vacation plans until they feel more comfortable. This may balance out against those who are on vacation.

Companies Haven’t Adjusted To The New Job Market

I’ve noticed that companies haven’t adapted to the new, post-pandemic environment. Many hiring personnel are still viewing the world as if it’s back in March or April of 2020. They don’t get that the economy is doing well and the job market has heated up.

The interview process continues to be very slow and clunky. With all the talk about ghosting, it’s shocking that companies still ignore candidates. It goes both ways too. There continues to be a lack of feedback and constructive criticism to help candidates perform better in the future.

Offers are lackluster. Requirements are ridiculously high, nearly impossible to achieve. There are too many starts and stops in the process. Decision by consensus, which is the new standard, paralyzes the process.

Talent acquisition professionals suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). This means that they’re afraid to make an offer because in the back of their mind they worry that there could possibly be someone even better if they wait long enough and keep interviewing dozens of  more candidates. 

They’ll say “we love Sara, she’s great!” but “we’d like to see three or four more candidates to compare against her. In the meantime, Sara interviewed somewhere else, got an offer, and the first company is surprised that this happened.

Many people involved with the hiring process are afraid that they’ll make the wrong decision. If they give the green light to bring a person aboard and he turns out to be a disaster, the person who made the hire could be blamed for their faulty judgement. 

Candidates Seek A Big Premium

Over 80-million Americans filed for unemployment benefits during the virus outbreak. People were sheltering-in-their-jobs waiting for better times. Even if they hated their boss, it made sense to stay put instead of taking the chance of switching jobs. They’d fear the risk of being the last one hired and the first one fired if things take a turn for the worse. It just wasn’t worth the risk to move, especially as companies weren’t providing lush offers.

You can’t simply shrug off the events of the past. The wounds are still raw. Reasonable people are saying that if they go for a new job, they want a large premium to their current compensation in case there is another wave of the disease and companies start laying off people again. 

Lingering Fear Of Covid-19

There are a significant number of people who are holding off interviewing, even though they’re interested. There is the lingering fear of catching the virus. Some are worried about what the school situation will like be in the fall. When public schools previously closed down, working mothers felt the pressure to leave their jobs to tend to their children and help with their online-based learning. 

People are leery of what companies will do next. If they currently work from home and enjoy it, there is trepidation that if they move, they may be asked six months from now to come into the office on a daily basis. Kind-of a bait-and-switch. Anyone who has worked in the corporate world for two minutes knows that it wouldn’t be shocking for a manager to promise a hybrid or fully remote work option, only to later change his mind.

As folks become fond of remote work, there’s not a big appetite to commute to and from the office, wasting hours each day. A large percentage of job seekers are demanding a guaranteed remote work option, along with a sizable increase in pay.

The Impasse

So now you have companies that are not coming to terms with the new environment nor offering attractive salaries, and job hunters are requiring both remote work options and a substantial pay package. This chasm results in what candidates would call low-ball offers. The company takes an opposite viewpoint, contending that the job seekers are asking for inflated and unrealistic salaries and bonuses. As both sides dig in their heels, it’s hard to make progress.

What You Should Do

Think of your career as a marathon, not a sprint. If you are happy where you are and feel well taken care of, it’s rational to remain. You could simultaneously keep your eyes open for new opportunities, get in touch with recruiters who will let you know if a perfect role opens up, and network on a regular basis.

If you feel it’s time for a change, then start searching. Since we’re in a new type of era, you should ask a lot of questions during the interview process. Don’t be intimidated. Push to ensure that you have full understanding of the role and the way you’ll work. Inquire about hybrid, a four day workweek, five hour days or flexible staggered hours. If you desire a remote role, be careful. You don’t want to get paid less compared to an in-office peer. It’s smart to feel out if work-from-homers are discriminated against and treated like second class citizens.

It doesn’t hurt to test the waters. You may find out that you’re highly desirable and could earn a lot more money. If you stay on the sidelines, don’t worry. September brings the back-to-school mindset. It’s the same for adults at work. You put the beach out of your mind and start getting serious. Everyone gets back to work by mid September and the wheels start turning again. This gives you a good chance to either start a search if you haven’t already or re-engage with new enthusiasm. 

By mid to late September I’d bet most top companies have finalized their -to-work models and  the pandemic starts looking distant and hazy. All eyes are on the future. The job market, barring any new problems, should go wild in the fall with all sorts of interesting opportunities opening up. You’ll then have a solid three and one half months run. Once the December holidays kick-in, the job market becomes like August in the summer and slows down again.