Does This Overlooked Indicator Signal Job Market Tightening?

Danielle Beurteaux

The Great Recession was a long and painful dry spell when it came to employment. With so few openings and employees staying put for security’s sake, the power was with employers. But that could be changing.

Recent Department of Labor reports are showing an increase in job openings. At the end of April (the most recent numbers available), there were 5.4 million, the most since 2000 (when the DoL started this reporting series). Separations, defined as every type of termination from job marketlayoffs to voluntary employee quitting, was at 4.9 million—pretty much the same as in March. But the quits number is particularly interesting: 2.7 million in April. Again, similar to March’s numbers. But if you look over the span of a year, there’s been an increase in the number of people leaving their jobs, particularly in the finance, insurance, and professional business services sectors.

Is this an indication of things to come? Some industries, like IT, already know how tough it is to hire talent. A CareerBuilder.com survey found that 36 percent of companies intend to increase their full-time headcount this year, and 82 percent plan on increasing compensation. Is it time for your company to prepare for the next war for talent?

The evolving role of human resources

Before hiring becomes a challenge, re-examine the role of human resources, writes Peter Cappelli in this Harvard Business Review article. He argues that the value that human resources professionals can bring to businesses has largely been ignored.

Kinder, gentler companies?

What does it say when one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious institutional investment firms tells its summer interns to go home? Internship positions at Goldman Sachs are hard-won and very competitive. (Mind you, they’re still putting in long days: 7 a.m. to midnight. But you gotta start somewhere). GS and its cohort are trying to make working a better deal, with pay increases, mentoring programs, and more hires to share the workload.

Making quicker hiring decisions

The average time from application to offer increased, from 10 days to almost 23, since 2010. One of the biggest factors? Bureaucracy. But that could be a trend that’s at the end of its life cycle. Tech companies in Silicon Valley are hiring quickly, and investing in training and employees. Stuck in a hiring process rut? There are recruiting solutions to help streamline hiring and minimize the time it takes to hire.

Formalizing employee happiness

One company that’s taking employee satisfaction to a new level is Big Viking Games in London, Ontario. It’s hiring “happiness engineers.” Their job? To make Big Viking a place that will attract and retain the best talent. Happy employees, said one of the co-founders, means great products and the profits to match.

Add some zeros

If the tech industry is any indication of which way the labor market is about to blow, now is a good time to study up on what recruiters in that sector are predicting. Here’s a tip: Money. Bigger cash bonuses, sign-on bonuses, and broad outreach.

Besides writing bigger checks: The annual LinkedIn recruiting survey has social networks, developing outreach and programs to approach passive candidates.

For more insight on the evolving role of human resources, see EIU – How HR leaders are reinventing their roles and transforming business.


Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.