In recent months, unemployment in the United States has reach record lows—the result of a thriving economy, a more mature workforce, and a more educated population (generally speaking, of course).
While low unemployment is widely accepted as a good thing, we can’t ignore the fact that it affects groups of people differently. The two groups most strongly affected: job seekers and employers.
We won’t go into the intricacies of unemployment and business economy, but we do find it fascinating how low unemployment rates affect staffing strategies (that is, after all, what we do). Today, we’re breaking down how low unemployment affects both job seekers and employers, and how they can leverage the benefits and overcome the challenges that low unemployment brings.
For job seekers
If you’re looking for a job in a time of low unemployment, you should consider yourself lucky. The low unemployment rate likely means that there are plenty of open positions just waiting to be filled. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to snag your dream job right away, but it does mean that, most likely, you will at least have options.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re a job seeker in a low unemployment market.
- You can expect some extra benefits. When employers are trying to attract good talent, they are more likely to offer generous compensation packages and benefits. If there is something that is important to you, whether it be decent health insurance, a flexible vacation policy, or the ability to work from home, you’ll likely be able to find it. Still, now is not the time to be greedy. Communicate your priorities and be fair in your negotiations.
- Companies are looking for loyalty. Turnover hurts a company’s profits, and when unemployment is low and companies are vying for the best candidates, some employees tend to “job hop” a bit, in search of greener pastures. If you can demonstrate that you plan on sticking with the position for the foreseeable future, that’ll work in your favor.
- Hone your skills. As companies get desperate to fill seats, they may settle for employees with lower skill levels, just so they can hire someone who will get the job done (even if it is in a mediocre fashion). That means that if you have a truly impressive skill set, you’ll have an edge over the competition.
Companies enjoy the benefits of unemployment as much as anyone, but low unemployment rates can also present a challenge. You may find that there are fewer people actively searching for jobs, meaning you may have a harder time filling any open positions in a timely manner. Your current employees might also be tempted to look at other job opportunities, if those other companies are trying to recruit workers with impressive benefits.
But don’t give up hope. There are still things you can do to help you fill those positions. Here are our suggestions.
Focus on culture. A strong culture can not only attract new talent, but it can also make it more likely that your current employees will stick around. Culture includes everything from your company values to your company policies, and if it’s leveraged properly, it can make your employees feel valued. For more details on building a strong company culture, check out our blog post on building culture to counter the revolving door.
Do your research. Have you noticed that some of the best candidates are taking jobs at certain companies? Do you know why? Zeroing in on those distinguishing factors could help you make adjustments that make your company more attractive to top talent. You should also be ready to do your research on candidates as they apply. Don’t settle for a mediocre option out of desperation. Check references, test skills, and conduct thorough interviews to make sure you don’t make any hiring mistakes.
Use a staffing agency. If you’re trying to make hires during a time of low unemployment, a reputable staffing agency could make all the difference. EDI Staffing, for example, has access to a expansive database of industry professionals, as well as a team of recruiters who specialize in specific fields. It all adds up to an efficient, thorough hiring process that helps you find a qualified candidate quickly and painlessly. It’s the most convenient way to work through a time of low unemployment—and it could help you avoid costly mistakes.
Low unemployment is generally a good thing, but it can bring some challenges, too. No matter which group you find yourself in, as long as you can develop an effective hiring or job hunting strategy, you can make the low unemployment rate work for you.
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