When an Improving Economy is Bad for Business

Job seekers have worried for years about finding work, but the tide has shifted, and that’s not great news for recruiting. It’s the big truth about supply and demand. Whoever has the biggest supply has the odds stacked in their favor.

Today, supply favors workers as the economy keeps improving. HR recruiters have a tougher job finding candidates than in recent history, so it’s time to get creative.

RELATED: How the Improving Economy is Making Hiring Harder

Good News: More Workers are Back to Work

With the steep economic downturn of the mid-2000s, workers lamented the fact that there was just no work to be had. Unemployment rates soared, and pay rates went stagnant. As bad as that sounds for workers, it put businesses at an advantage. The pool of qualified, available candidates was enormous.

The National Federation of Business (NFIB) released their Small Business Economic Trends report in January. It states that that 52 percent of the 10,799 survey responders were trying to hire new workers.

Supply and demand also means wages should start to go up soon, as businesses try to attract more candidates. So the outlook for job seekers looks great.

Bad News: Fewer Workers are Unemployed

The ironic twist in all of this good news is that with unemployment improving, the pool of qualified candidates looking for work is getting smaller and smaller. While the economy was poorer, each new job opening was flooded with applicants. But NFIC says finding qualified workers was the “Single Most Important Business Problem” of survey responders.

As much as 29 percent of responders said they had jobs that couldn’t be filled. That’s the highest this problem has ranked since 2007.

Where recruiters had the option of being quite selective, now they’re fortunate to find qualified candidates at all. This is especially a problem in service industries.

Balancing the Odds Again

With more people back to work, the supply of workers is likely down for at least a while. That’s not entirely terrible news for you either, as hiring means your company’s bottom line is relatively stable. The issue now is finding ways to entice those few qualified candidates over to your side. You have to get creative.

The time-tested way to draw attention isn’t a surprise to anyone: Money talks. But even in an improving economy, there’s only so much that money can do. While implementing creative ways that make your job ad stand out, such as new and unusual benefits, creativity can also apply to the way you source candidates.

When they don’t come running to you, you have to go find them, and you might need a new way to measure qualifications. A highly qualified person in a different industry might not seem ideal for your position, but the wider view might show that she’s got exactly what your job needs.

For too many years, the economy was terrible. Businesses suffered, and workers were unemployed. Because jobs were scarce, fewer people spent as much money, which cycled back around to businesses suffering. It was a vicious cycle, but statistics show that it’s all on a much-anticipated upswing. All, that is, except for the ability to find good job candidates.

Necessity really is the mother of all invention, and this cycle of recruiting will no doubt turn out a lot of great ideas for sourcing candidates. It’s surprisingly good timing, too. With an unprecedented availability of Big Data, Wired magazine stresses the fact that you’ve got a mountain of information at your fingertips.

Job seekers might not be lining up at your doorstep right now. But this is the time when the best recruiting pros write a whole new book on how to get the job done.

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