As CEO of a global company whose mission is to match candidates with jobs – and doing so in a time of unprecedented labor shortages and record-breaking quit rates – I can say firsthand that the world of hiring is facing some steep challenges. I say this not just from the perspective of an industry insider, but as someone who also leads a global workforce that has had to pivot, adjust, and adapt.
We’re turning the corner on a year that wasn’t as “post-pandemic” as we’d hoped, and in a world still very much at the mercy of pandemic-related interruptions. The new year will likely see employers and candidates continuing to grapple with hiring hurdles and lingering uncertainty. Amid this turbulence, the one thing I can say with confidence is that competition for talent will be fiercer than it has been in years as employers scramble to fill the roles left vacant in 2021.
In Monster’s 2022 Future of Work Report (FOW), recruiters around the globe told us that “increased competition” was a leading challenge they expect to face over the next three years, topped only by finding candidates who have the right skills.
With that in mind, here’s what I see as the three converging factors that are impacting most organizations today:
- Simply put, there are fewer candidates looking for jobs. In the U.S., we know that the labor participation rate is down, and there are a number of reasons for this, but fewer candidates obviously makes it more difficult for hiring managers to fill the more than 11 million open roles (as of October 2021). As such, companies are spending more and trying new recruiting approaches. We see that in many areas, but one clear example is staffing and recruitment. The staffing industry has exploded in the last year, and I expect it will continue to grow in 2022. What’s also notable is the expansion in the permanent placement sector, which demonstrates the real challenges companies are having finding candidates for permanent full-time work.
- The great resignation is expected to continue. As people opt for career changes or exit the workforce all together, I don’t see this changing quickly, and certainly not in the first quarter of 2022. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of quits in November was 4.5 million—a BLS series high. What’s more, a Harvard Business Review study found that mid-career employees between 30 and 45 years are the group resigning most. We’re losing a critical segment of workers just as they should be moving into or expanding their leadership and management roles, setting up a difficult succession plan for many C-suites.
- There’s no clear path to return-to-work for many companies. There are still major concerns from a macro health perspective because of all the COVID-related stops and starts. From Delta to Omicron, from announcements about going back to work to the delay of those announcements, there have been changes in employee and employer perspectives on when is the right time to go back to an in-person work environment. Add to that the unclear future of U.S. government-mandated vaccines in the workplace, employers have been reluctant – and in some cases unable – to bring workers back to an in-person office setting. Ultimately, it creates uncertainty and a sense of unreliability. A recent Monster poll revealed that a majority (53%) of workers are not confident in their employer’s ability to create a safe work environment.
All of this adds up to an infinitely more competitive marketplace. As we look ahead and reflect on the findings from our Future of Work Report, these are some strategies we’ll be sharing with our customers at Monster as they face a fiercely competitive hiring landscape.
Understand What Candidates Are Looking For
Candidate priorities are shifting away from flexibility and towards higher pay and career satisfaction, according to the FOW Report. Interestingly, 42% of respondents listed meaningful work as one of the most important factors driving career choice– above flexible work schedules. Also on the rise is a desire for skills training and career development.
With 27% of candidates saying they are seeking caring work environments, employers have an opportunity to reach potential hires by emphasizing workplace culture.
At Monster, for example, we’ve been making a big push with our own workforce along those lines, while also amplifying what it’s like to work here to our prospective talent.
Be Ready To Compete
Given the fact that 26% of candidates expressed low confidence in finding the right job fit, while one quarter of respondents said they are skeptical of employer promises, companies that build authentic, employee-first cultures can stand out from the competition.
The tools and tactics employers can use to remain competitive run the gamut from increasing wages and benefits to offering starting bonuses. Yet, it’s critical to actively engage with qualified candidates. The Future of Work Report found that about a quarter of employers are increasing job ads to stay competitive. But that’s just one tactic – you’ve got to strive to make a strong first impression with candidates no matter what that touchpoint might look like, and demonstrate why your company is a great place to work.
Having open communications with your employees can help shape everything from your DEIA policies to understanding your workforce’s needs in terms of flexible work options or mental health and wellness support. Not only can that improve retention but can also strengthen your employer brand and reputation for future hires.
At Monster, for example, we hold regular “Ask Me Anything” sessions, where senior executives – myself included – invite employees to discuss anything on their mind. We also conduct regular sentiment surveys of our employees. As a result, our leadership team has improved Monster’s culture to not only attract new talent but to retain quality employees. I highly recommend finding ways to gather perspective and feedback from your organization to figure out the things you’re doing well and the things that you can improve upon.
Broaden Your Search
The future of a successful candidate search depends on two factors: location and diversity.
This next generation of workers is going to be very open to working for companies that aren’t based anywhere near where they live, hence why 21% of employers said they are expanding their location search to remain competitive in hiring. Success for many employers may be dependent on adopting a distributed workforce.
In addition, you’ll want to get on board with recruiting candidates from new or unexpected sources, and consider candidates who may not have all of the skills or experience on your wish list. A clear majority (67%) of Gen Z recruiters told us they are increasing outreach to outside organizations with diverse talent pipelines and 70% of all recruiters said they’d be open to hiring candidates with transferable skills who they can train.
Nearly a third of U.S. recruiters actively recruit military veterans and spouses and make use of tools such as Military.com’s skills translator to convert military credentials and experience into in-demand skills for civilian jobs.
Embrace New Strategies–And A New Generation Of Recruiters
Gen Z and Millennial recruiters–who make up a majority of today’s active recruiters– are the future. According to our survey, this cohort of digital natives embrace texting, and are also more likely to leverage a broader set of tools including job board matches, email campaigns, social ads, and more. In fact, 61% of Gen Z recruiters think virtual recruiting is better than in-person (vs 26% of millennials and 6% of Boomers.)
If you’re not creating the right mechanisms to interact with this generation–one that has grown up with social media platforms and mobile devices–they will dismiss you very quickly in the process.
Despite Challenges Ahead, There’s Room For Optimism
When you stop and think about what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come in the past two years, and what it’s taught us about our values, it’s truly amazing. We’ve not only made leaps and bounds when it comes to hybrid and remote work capabilities, but we’ve collectively created more awareness around supporting the health and wellness of our greatest assets – our employees. I am confident that moving forward, we can achieve a better balance between life in the office and life at home.
Though there will no doubt be some struggles in 2022 – most notably the stiff competition for sourcing talent – there are endless opportunities for this next generation of recruiters and job seekers to make the best employment matches possible. Being open to trying new approaches and keeping a finger on the pulse of what candidates and employees care about can ensure that your workplace not only attracts the right people but fosters an environment that allows them to do their best work.