Mar­ket de­mands for job can­di­dates re­cruiters’ dream

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - PA­TRI­CIA LAYA AND DANIEL FLATLEY

It’s hardly ever been a bet­ter, or busier, time to be a re­cruiter in Amer­ica.

Chris Nace — who’s done such work for the past decade — said that af­ter years of search­ing for busi­ness, com­pa­nies are now con­stantly ap­proach­ing his small firm that fo­cuses on hires in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor in New York City.

“De­mand is the high­est I can re­mem­ber hav­ing,” said Nace, whose firm’s fees in­clude one-time pay­ments based on a per­cent­age of the re­cruited worker’s salary. “Com­pa­nies are telling us they’re will­ing to pay $25,000 or $30,000 fees for peo­ple who are one or two years out of school. That’s fairly atyp­i­cal.”

While head­hunters can get lofty re­tain­ers for ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions, a 16-year low un­em­ploy­ment rate and a record­high num­ber of job open­ings are turn­ing work­ers across all sorts of in­dus­tries — from con­struc­tion to truck­ing to soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing — into hot com­modi­ties. The need is so dire that em­ploy­ers are hand­ing out large sign­ing bonuses, giv­ing second looks to peo­ple with blemishes on their re­sumes and reach­ing out to pro­fes­sional re­cruiters more than ever.

The num­bers show why that’s the case: There were 1.17 un­em­ployed job seek­ers for ev­ery va­cancy in April, the second-low­est ra­tio in data go­ing back to 2000. That com­pares with a post-re­ces­sion peak of 6.65 peo­ple per job open­ing in July 2009. Rev­enue for U.S. search-and-place­ment ser­vices rose to $21.9 bil­lion in 2016, al­most triple the level in 2009, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates from the Amer­i­can Staffing As­so­ci­a­tion.

“It’s a can­di­date-driven mar­ket and com­pa­nies are scram­bling,” said Jen­nifer Pearce, vice pres­i­dent at City Staff, a Wash­ing­ton-based

● firm that places about 400 new hires a year, in­clud­ing peo­ple who work in in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment and at non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions. “It’s now be­come equally im­por­tant for a com­pany to keep em­ploy­ees in­ter­ested and chal­lenged to keep them from get­ting bored and ac­cept­ing other of­fers.”

The tight job mar­ket means em­ploy­ers are hir­ing at a slower pace, al­beit still a solid one.

“We’ve got a tight la­bor

mar­ket and job growth will slow this year be­cause busi­nesses are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to hire,” said Gus Faucher, chief econ­o­mist at PNC Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group Inc. in Pitts­burgh. “At some point busi­nesses are go­ing to be forced to raise pay as they see their work­ers leav­ing for some­where else.”

Dis­cour­aged by mea­ger pay raises, work­ers are chang­ing jobs and find­ing it’s pay­ing off.

Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of At­lanta data show job switch­ers en­joyed 3.9 per­cent higher pay than a year ear­lier, ac­cord­ing

to a three-month av­er­age of me­dian wage growth as of May, while peo­ple who re­mained in the same job saw only a 3 per­cent in­crease.

Glenn Mur­phy, part­ner at re­cruiter Bam­boo Tal­ent in New York, says there’s “so much work to go around” that tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies — who once would of­fer the firm re­tainer fees for only the high­est level of tal­ent — are now of­fer­ing to pay up­front for a va­ri­ety of roles, from chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cers down to vice pres­i­dents, direc­tors and en­gi­neer­ing man­agers. A strong en­gi­neer­ing can­di­date

can prob­a­bly get a dozen mes­sages a day from re­cruiters and com­pa­nies on LinkedIn, he said.

Those head­hunters are find­ing more and more suc­cess. The num­ber of Amer­i­cans vol­un­tar­ily leav­ing their jobs — for op­por­tu­ni­ties such as a new job or go­ing back to school — is close to its high for this ex­pan­sion. The quits rate, as it’s known, was at 2.1 per­cent in April, com­pared to 1.3 per­cent at the start of 2010.

“To some ex­tent, the la­bor short­age is a func­tion of em­ploy­ers hav­ing un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of what they can

get,” said Steven Berchem, chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer at the Amer­i­can Staffing As­so­ci­a­tion in Alexan­dria, Va. “They have to re­al­ize you have to open their pock­et­books to get the tal­ent that they re­ally want.”

That makes the out­look for re­cruiters sunny — if they can find peo­ple to do the re­cruit­ing.

“The economy is, if not at full em­ploy­ment, very close,” said Ryan Sweet, an econ­o­mist at Moody’s An­a­lyt­ics Inc. in West Ch­ester, Pa., “It’s go­ing to be harder and harder and it’s go­ing to take longer and longer to fill po­si­tions.”

Bloomberg News/DA­NIA MAXWELL

for in­ter­views at a job fair at the Pechanga Re­sort and Casino in Te­mec­ula, Calif., in June. A 16-year low un­em­ploy­ment rate and a record-high num­ber of job open­ings have made work­ers across all sorts of in­dus­tries into hot com­modi­ties.

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