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2021 Job Market Insights After 20 Years in Talent Acquisition

I stepped into the Minnesota Talent Acquisition industry exactly 20 years ago, in 2001.

At the time, we’d just gone through Y2K, the Enron Scandal, and the Dot-Com bubble had just popped. While things were uncertain, and hiring was slow, there was still gradual improvement in hiring. Eventually, professionals experienced a hiring surge.

We then thrived until the global financial crisis of 2007. The hiring market was decimated. Companies laid-off workers and were determined to run leaner and more efficiently with fewer employees. The recovery seemed to proceed a bit more cautiously in all aspects of business, but it seemed quicker than it did in the early 2000s.

How Different Is the World Today?

Today, the professional world is recovering from a global pandemic. This was not a financial crisis, or a bubble bursting, this was a health crisis that has caused much uncertainty. I wasn’t very sure how the recovery would look compared to the recessions of the past. COVID-19 was personally hard on my business within Versique. But as business started to recover, it was clear that the recovery wasn’t going to look like 2001 or 2007. This recovery, for the professional industry, has taken off like a rocket ship. In my 20 years, I have never seen a “job-short market” turn into a “candidate short market” so quickly. MN unemployment has dropped from 11% to under four percent within one year. If you consider the “corporate” unemployment rate, it’s closer to two percent.

The employment market today is candidate-driven, which means that candidates now have more leverage than hiring managers. Most professional candidates who are interviewing for new roles are receiving multiple offers, receiving counteroffers when giving notice, and are commanding higher salaries. Candidates are also very selective regarding their work situation. Most of the candidates we speak with are asking for the ability to work from home or hybrid (home and office). I don’t see this going away. The professional landscape is changing, and we are seeing hiring managers adapt their approach in order to secure and retain the best talent.

How Should Companies Approach This ‘New Normal’?

Some local companies are starting to bring their employees back to work. We are seeing the largest of companies continue to push back their return-to-work plans while some company leaders want things to “go back to the way they were” with five days a week in the office. Right or wrong, these leaders simply will miss out on talent. We are seeing candidates who decline conversations with hiring companies/leaders with fully “in-office” mindsets. This makes hiring harder for companies who truly need their employees in the office to do their roles. Manufacturing companies and retailers are still reeling from staffing shortages as candidates now have a number of options to work elsewhere without having to show up at work five days a week.

So how do I feel about this explosive recovery in the Talent Acquisition industry?

I am grateful, exhausted, challenged, and excited. It is truly a time for reflection and transformation. This is going to be fun.

About Versique: Versique is one of the largest recruiting firms in the Midwest and specializes in contract consultingdirect-hire, and executive search hiring services. With a valuable blend of functional, industry, and recruiting experience, our award-winning team of headhunters has a proven track record of delivering exceptional talent acquisition solutions. Star Tribune ranked Versique as the best staffing company to work for in Minnesota in 2019, 2020, and 2021. The Versique brand represents a powerful combination of “versatile” and “unique” as it hints at the concept of “search” in its pronunciation: ver-seek.

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