Chances are, the last two years didn’t pan out anything like you thought they would. 2020 ushered in a history-making pandemic. In the world of recruiting everything paused. And in 2021, we experienced a different kind of stress: waiting for the hiring market to pick back up.
Things started slower in Houston where I recruit. Denver, Chicago, and Atlanta were some of the first to recover. But in Texas, oil and gas prices lead everything. In the last few months, as travel has picked back up strong, hiring is ramping up. And companies are deciding that they are not only going to fill the positions that were on hold last year, but they’re ready to grow entirely new functions. It’s been good for the market, job seekers and the economy.
But to be clear, it’s a different market now than it was even a year ago. National resignation numbers are breaking records. While I never would have dreamed so many people would be quitting in masses the way that they are, it’s going to have a resounding impact on recruiting. Some people call it “the great resignation” but from my perspective, it’s more like “the great recalibration.” People are taking stock of what matters to them and what they’re willing to give their time to. I think that’s great!
As the year winds down, I’m seeing seismic shifts in both how I think about my work and what candidates want from their next job. And I’m grateful for the changes these last two years have brought me personally and job seekers.
Here are the most notable changes:
We lead with gratitude more often.
In years past, I might have measured my year by how many candidates I placed. On a good year, I beat my record from the years before. And if I didn’t, I’d start the year in competitor mode. Of course, my performance still matters to me, but it doesn’t define me.
I haven’t been directly impacted by the loss of life so many people experienced related to Covid. I’m grateful that my family came out of the pandemic stronger as a unit. I’m grateful I have people in my life, like my husband, who I can get through a lockdown with. Quarantining during Covid brought us closer together.
This year, I’m measuring my wins by the time I spent with my family. The health of my loved ones. My health and mental well-being. It wasn’t necessarily my “best” year for placements, but I’m the happiest I’ve been.
We find balance more easily.
Like many others, the pandemic helped me to put my priorities into perspective. In my role, I get to change lives, but I don’t need to be answering emails in the middle of the night like I’m an on-call cardiologist. Sometimes, recruiting can wait. I don’t have to be “on” all day every day.
Until Covid, my entire life had been all about work, and now I know what matters and what can wait. I’m grateful Lucas lets us do work when we’re at work and disconnect when we’re away.
And I’m not alone. When I talk to candidates, they ask more questions about work-life balance than ever before. Through the rocky times of the pandemic and working remotely, people struck a balance in their lives that they’re not willing to give up.
We’re going to give loyalty to those that are loyal to us.
This is my fourth recession, but my first at Lucas Group. I have been so thankful for Lucas Group in the last two years. They retained me when things paused and allowed us all to ride the waves of the pandemic. They value their employees enough to truly take care of them. We all stuck together. We came out thriving. Ten years ago, a warmer, people-focused culture might not have struck such a cord with me. But this season, it meant the world.
More people are looking for an employer that has a supportive, people-focused culture. And as a recruiter that places contract roles, I’m seeing an uptick in people that want to “try before they buy,” working on a contract basis to understand how an employer really treats their people. Candidates are willing to be a little less committed and even face gaps in their work contracts if it means they get a good fit with a great culture.
A recruiting renaissance
As we’re all recharging, I’m thinking about rejuvenation and reinvention. The recruiting field is going through a renaissance. The drivers to attracting talent used to be multidimensional—compensation, perks, location of the office, growth potential—to name a few. Now, the first question everyone asks is: Is this remote? And for many candidates that’s a make-or-break question. And with the growth of remote work, companies are competing for talent on a national or even global scale more often. The value proposition to win talent is going to have to be sharp and innovative. And I think that’s great news for my candidates.
Consider the contractors I place. No one has more freedom than a contractor. They’re not emotionally invested like your long-tenured team members. They are thinking about why this job is right for them right now. Many are looking at the record resignations with worry, but I’m glad to see more people deciding what really matters to them and walking away from jobs or experiences that don’t make them happy.
The ways the pandemic shifted our perspectives and recalibrated our work make me optimistic for a new evolution of work and recruiting. Even with all the resignations, talent margins are slim, and the power is with the candidates. That’s great! I’m happy to see that more people are going to have the opportunity to get exactly what they want—not just the best approximation available.
Some companies have bristled at the shift. Their egos have been bruised by their attrition numbers. But I think they’re missing the point. If candidates have more control and more options, that means when you get a “yes” from a candidate, it’s an enthusiastic yes. Employers are going to hire a more engaged, more productive workforce. And the smart, industry-leading companies are rolling up their sleeves to capitalize on this. They’re working hard to be more thoughtful about how they attract and retain their people.
I can’t wait to see what that means for my candidates, and for all of us. I hope this renaissance brings more people true joy in their work and by extension better outcomes for companies. It’s a fresh perspective that helps everyone win.