Who’s the Buyer and Who’s the Seller in Business and at Work?

As the winter thaws into spring in fits and starts in the SmAlbany, New York area, the local economy and job market are experiencing a spring awakening, too.  There’s a plethora of print and electronic job ads, and my network is filling my LinkedIn newsfeed with new job openings every day, and vice versa.

As predicted when The Great Recession began in 2008, the market tide is turning in favor of job candidates:  it has turned from a seller’s (employer’s) market to a buyer’s (job seeker’s) market.  Here are some of the signs:

  • At the height of The Great Recession in the 2009 – 2010 timeframe, employment ads all but disappeared from major job posting sites and newspapers.  Stable businesses who weathered the economic storm delayed hiring with great caution.  Those few firms who advertised open positions were flooded with qualified and over-qualified candidates.  Free posting sites like Craigslist.org gained credibility during this timeframe, as more and more qualified job candidates hit by historic mass layoffs used any means possible to find open jobs.
    • Now:  Private companies especially need to make a conscious effort to get the good word out about why their company is a great place to work.  Without a focused recruitment branding strategy that produces great news when candidates Google you and your company and/or look you up on LinkedIn, strong candidates are going to pass your critical job openings in favor of either staying with their current employer, or going to work for your competitiors for talent who have a solid recruitment and company branding strategy (and more importantly, who are working that strategy hard).
  • In a naive and reputation-damaging effort to screen for the best qualified candidates, several organizations started stipulating during this same timeframe that unemployed candidates need not apply in their job postings.  The Great Recession was the game-changer of this passe’ layoff stereotype, cutting into the muscle and bone of every organization’s talent pool, often with the highest-compensated talent targeted first as as a cost-savings measure, with little regard for past great performance or level of contribution. ( I have personally interviewed a number of refugees of these layoffs, and the majority of these unemployed candidates have platinum backgrounds and references.)
    • Now:  effective June 11, 2013, it will become illegal to discriminate against unemployed candidates in the City of New York.  New Jersey, Oregon and Washington D.C. have recently passed similar laws.  Under the NYC law, unemployed individuals who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of their employment status will have the right to sue in court and recover compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.  And the number of jurisdictions passing similar laws continues to grow.  Another example of reaping what is sown.
  • During this same time period, some organizations as a time-saver dispensed with polite interview process protocols and engaged in interview and screening practices that were not congruent with their stated customer service values, e.g. cattle-call (group) interviews for candidates at all levels; aggressive questions targeted at determining a candidate’s age; and other reputation-risking practices.
    • Now:  the word is out about these same organizations, and some of the best talent are steering clear.  And some of their current talent are starting to exit in favor of organizations who walk the talk of their stated values.
  • At the peak of the waves of recessionary layoffs, some organizations acted with grace and love as they released talented employees; other organizations – not so much.
    • Now:  the organizations who laid off employees with grace and love and who are now in a position to hire again, are attracting the best talent.  The organizations who laid off their employees without preserving dignity and who are now hiring again, are having a tough time attracting the best candidates – if any candidates.

In the ever-shrinking world of business relationships and connections, the buyer and the seller can change chairs multiple times.  The degree to which you conduct yourself with intergrity, mutual respect and grace will in turn determine the degree of your success, in business and at work.



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