Top Tips on Staying Ahead in the Candidate’s Market


by Kevin Erickson

Jul 28,2021
Talent, Talent Seekers, Tips + Tricks, Trends,

If you’ve ever been curious about what a candidate’s market looks like, there’s never been a clearer example than what we’re seeing now. The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an all-time high of 9.2 million open jobs in the U.S. That is a lot of jobs. In fact, it’s roughly 33% higher than any pre-pandemic number and represents significant increase in labor market demand. Simply put, there are far more jobs than candidates available. 

To further put this into perspective, in May alone there were just 5.9 million hires made, leaving 3.4 million jobs unfilled. Plus, there were 5.3 million separations—part of the buzzy “Great Resignation” you may have heard about. So, what’s going on? Lots of things. There are many economic, personal, global and pandemic-induced reasons why these numbers are so high. Diagnosing those is not our area of expertise, however. The question that we at Horizontal Talent can help you answer is how can you get your roles filled with great talent in such a booming candidate’s market? 

The first thing to know is that there has never been a more robust job market. Before the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about the War for Talent, but even then things were not this extreme. If you haven’t hired for a role recently, you may not know the extent of the labor market right now. In the current atmosphere, if somebody is not fulfilled in some capacity in their current job—flexibility, culture, compensation, benefits, working remotely, etc.—they can usually find it at another organization.  

With this radical shift in the labor market, more companies are coming to us with trouble filling previously quick-turnaround roles on a contract and direct hire basis. After speaking with them, we’re often not surprised they are having trouble. Their issues fall into two main categories: Unrealistic expectations and slow hiring processes. 

The need to make concessions around flexibility, compensation, or the expectation that a candidate sticks around for 3 or 4 interviews may be hard for some companies to hear, but it’s our duty to give them honest and truthful insight to help them fill more jobs. Here are the most common insights we’re providing: 

Reconsider how you’re attracting talent from the get-go. 

Understand that candidates take the requirements on a job description seriously. If you are willing to be flexible with ANY part of your requirements, make sure that’s reflected in the description. For instance, does the candidate NEED 7+ years of experience or would 5+ work just as well? Demonstrating some flexibility at the beginning can go a long way to attracting candidates with potential to thrive. 

Adjust your hiring process to keep pace with the market. 

For better or worse, interview cycles have expanded in recent years. What may have once been a two-stop journey has now become a tour de company, trying to root out flaws and find the perfect culture add. While well intended, getting somebody through that process in today’s market is next to impossible. Candidates are likely going to have five other jobs to consider before you even make an offer. 

Take a look at your process to see where you can trim it down. If a candidate has to take 5 steps with you and only two or three steps with somebody else, they’ll get to the other offer sooner and your company will lose out. 

Working with a firm like Horizontal Talent, which has a pipeline of vetted talent, can help you jump some of the early steps in the hiring process and provide you with great talent ready to interview immediately.  

Ensure alignment across all levels of the organization.  

It’s no secret that alignment brings with it a certain level of efficiency—fewer hiccups, less confusion, and agreement on when a job is done. One of the biggest potholes we hit with our clients is when misalignment on a requirement slows down the hiring process. (Or, in some cases, stops it entirely.) 

Know exactly what you’re hiring for and have everyone on board with the role, the process, the compensation and where you can be flexible. Fewer wrenches in the hiring machine mean more opportunities to hire a great candidate before someone else does. 

Review Compensation Levels  

Legacy compensation bands that have allowed you to attract and retain talent in years past most likely need a fresh review to stay competitive in today’s hiring market. Although candidates care about the holistic offerings of a new opportunity, compensation remains near the top of the things a candidate cares most about. In the first 6 months of 2021, we’ve seen compensation levels on a contract and direct hire basis steadily increase. The clients adjusting the fastest and making the most aggressive increases are giving themselves the best chance to acquire talent.   

Flexibility can improve diversity. 

A little bit of a tangent, but an important one. More companies than ever have been asking us about attracting a more diverse pool of talent. Being flexible on your requirements opens your talent pool to include people who may not fit who you would traditionally hire. Making adjustments that include flexibility on degrees, opportunities for remote or hybrid work, or years of experience allows for a lot more diversity to be brought into your hiring ecosystem.  

We’d love the opportunity to work with you! 

One of the benefits of working with a firm like ours is we can give you real-time market information and insights. You know your business, but sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to see the need to make small changes that make a big difference. 

Grow your business
Advance your career
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.