Are Companies Calling the Shots? Examining Candidate Resilience in Today’s Job Market

Story by Gemma Beasley / June 21, 2023

If headlines and LinkedIn anecdotes are anything to go by, it’s not a great time to be a job seeker. This moment is notable for mass layoffs, hiring freezes, and declining job creation. So it’s easy to assume that the balance of power has shifted away from employees and towards employers. 

Yet at the same time, we’re navigating deeply uncertain terrain, with market trends regularly defying conventional wisdom. Workplace dynamics have evolved to see significant changes around employees’ preferences and perspectives. So before we attempt to assess the state of the market, it’s crucial to understand how this is impacting both job seekers and employers.

The Changing Face of Hiring

I started my recruitment career at the tail end of the last global financial crisis. Every day, we’d see a surplus of seasoned employees vying for available roles, and accepting them on whatever terms the employer had set. But the situation seems different now.

Experienced workers with specialist skills are now more reluctant to accept job offers that do not align with their desired criteria – a trend that’s only expected to intensify as Baby Boomers retire. At the same time, the concept of a typical career journey has undergone a dramatic shift, with Millennials and Generation Z exhibiting a more fluid and transactional approach to work than any generation that came before.

The Impact of New Workforce Dynamics 

Amidst changing employee expectations and a dwindling pool of experienced workers, economists predict a relatively low unemployment rate compared to previous downturns. If they’re right and unemployment reaches only 4.6% by the fourth quarter of 2023, this reduces the abundance of available talent, which in turn gives job seekers more bargaining power. Employers will do well to recognize these dynamics and adapt their strategies accordingly.

As a Construction and Real Estate Recruiter, I’m regularly telling my clients that it’s crucial to maintain a consistent employer brand. Economic cycles come and go, but reputation endures. Today’s workforce is highly mobile, even as challenges persist. So good optics are still essential for attracting the talent you need. 

Some employers may yearn for the days when they called all the shots, but it pays to acknowledge the realities of the present day. For all who don’t, there’s a competitor out there who will.

Employers Are Still Under Scrutiny

With the popularity of social media, review sites such as Glassdoor, and other conversational forums such as Reddit – job seekers can now access a bird’s eye perspective on available opportunities. 

This has enabled candidates to see how companies treat their employees through good and bad times, which is why it’s never advised to react impulsively to every shift in the market. 

Many people want to understand how an employer treats customers, communities, and the planet as a whole, and will consider the long-term implications of associating with the company. Future focused employers will recognize the influence of these developments, and prioritize delivering positive employee and candidate experiences accordingly. 

Strategic Considerations for Companies

Want to be a beacon for talent in times of change? Employers should consider the following points in particular:

1. Mass layoffs don’t make good PR

I know, call me Captain Obvious. While downsizing can be a reasonable response to financial strain, it can also create the perception of a “hire and fire” culture among prospective (and current) employees. No one wants to feel like they’re expendable. 

Thoughtful practices to grow sustainably can make companies more resilient to the changing winds of fortune.

Companies should not take loyal staff for granted, especially during turbulent times. By recognizing and appreciating staff who remained dedicated during upheavals and difficult decisions, you’ll earn the type of goodwill that can make your business better able to respond to challenges in the future.

Offering enticing incentives to potential hires without acknowledging the contributions of your existing workforce is bound to alienate your loyal employees. Instead, you can ensure they feel their commitment is valued by extending the same rewards and incentives you offer new talent.

To attract and retain high-potential talent, it’s essential to offer robust training programs, mentorship opportunities, and clear pathways for growth. This should be made clear during the recruitment process, to showcase your commitment to investing in each candidate’s long-term success. By providing a culture of continuous learning and advancement, you can position your company as an attractive destination for ambitious candidates.

2. Inclusion is still high on the agenda

In today’s rapidly changing jobs market, companies cannot overstate the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). These efforts go beyond meeting legal requirements and are now essential components of attracting and retaining top talent, fostering innovation, and driving long-term success. 

It’s a great time for assessing your current approaches to ensure they are inclusive. This may involve partnering with organizations that focus on diverse talent, attending career fairs and events targeting underrepresented groups, leveraging diverse professional networks, and using inclusive language in job postings.

Recent headlines have shown that many employers are eager to bring employees back to the physical workplace, but it’s important to articulate a compelling reason for doing so. Today’s workforce often prefers remote work, and underrepresented groups find it more accessible. Candidates don’t respond well to being forced into a less than ideal situation, so be prepared for such a mandate to cast doubt over your employee retention strategy. 

If you can’t justify a return to the office so it makes sense to most of your employees, this could damage your brand. Especially as an employer who prioritizes employee wellbeing and DEI progress. Top talent will not accept a regressive approach, regardless of economic conditions.

3. Invest in better hiring experiences 

Any slowdown in recruitment offers up the opportunity to step back and reflect on your hiring processes. While speed is often prioritized during periods of high demand, it is important not to let temporary fixes hinder the ability to attract the best talent in the long run.

A disappointing trend that has emerged in recent years is ghosting during the hiring process. This occurs when communication ceases to leave candidates, employers, and/or recruiters in a state of uncertainty and frustration.

Company culture and values play a significant role in attracting top talent. Candidates want to align themselves with organizations that share their beliefs and foster a supportive and inclusive environment. Sharing stories and testimonials that exemplify your culture can help candidates understand what it would be like to work for your organization and make informed decisions around whether to accept an offer of employment.

By taking the time to evaluate your hiring technology and procedures, you can identify areas that require attention and implement necessary changes, resulting in better hiring experiences for all.

More change is still to come

It’s always worth remembering that, just like any other moment, this too shall pass. Whatever shape you’re in right now, the option is there to prepare for a future where exceptional hiring drives the pace. 

If you successfully navigated the challenges posed by the recent hiring frenzy and economic reset, know that you’re not alone.Those companies that can adapt, reskill, and evolve during this period will excel in the upcoming market cycle. 

Are you looking to work with a staffing business who understands how to win the most sought-after talent, even while the market is in flux? Whether you’re hiring now or planning to overhaul your recruitment process to better align with the times, get in touch to see how Hudson Cooper can help.


Looking to hire?

Construction recruitment agencies are common. Strong partnerships rooted in trust and good communication are rare. Learn why we’re the latter.

Learn More

Looking for a new role?

Put your career in the hands of recruiters who know your worth. We focus on your long term success and strive to make your job search process feel effortless.

Learn More