If you’re a hiring manager, specifically a hiring manager in the DC area, you’ve probably been keeping an eye on the steep fluctuations taking place in the labor market during the past five years. There isn’t much that you can do to control them, but there’s lot they can do to control you—and monitoring labor market trends can help you anticipate candidate expectations and stay ahead of the curve when it’s time to compete for top talent.
The Job Market Since 2009: A Series of Highs and Lows
Months after stock and housing prices began to crash in 2008 and 2009, the national job market started to reach a saturation point, with laid off workers exceeding employer demand. Significant job losses occurred in and around the DC area and other east coast metropolitan centers, and as candidates lined up—sometimes hundreds for a single job opening—employers began to take advantage of the situation and shift their approach to the hiring and selection process. Salary offers dropped, interviews became drawn-out, repetitive, and sometimes demeaning, and employers didn’t worry about finding high levels of targeted talent. No matter how highly qualified a candidate seemed, the next one might still be better.
But now the tides have shifted once again. In 2012, the DC area rate of unemployment hovered at around 10 percent. By the end of 2014, the rate has dropped to 7.6. National numbers have fallen even further, and are now quickly passing and dropping below 5.8. These unemployment rates haven’t been seen since before the recession, and while they hold great news for job seekers, the outcome may be more complicated for employers.
A tightening job market means the days of bounty are over. While one open position used to attract a long line of highly qualified accountants and financial experts at every level—from new graduates to senior accountants to CFOs—the slack has now been taken up, and employers are back on the competing end of the equation.
Success will mean shifting with the tides and adjusting both salary and resume expectations before your competitors attract the best contenders. But how far should you move in this direction? The answer will depend on your circumstances, but as always, for guidance and clarity as you shape your staffing plan for the year ahead, you can always reach out to the DC financial staffing experts at Cordia.