June 28, 2024

2024 Q1 + Q2 Job Market Insights: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

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Episode Highlights

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In their latest episode, Emily and Ryan review the Q1 and Q2 job market, highlighting layoffs in tech and retail closures like department stores and Amazon cutbacks. Economic uncertainty due to inflation and rising interest rates has led employers to struggle with higher compensation demands, sometimes pausing hiring. They discuss the shift from remote work to a return-to-office push, balancing employee preferences with corporate mandates. Employers’ increasing selectivity has slowed hiring and even caused freezes when ideal candidates aren’t found. They note a transition from the “Great Resignation” to the “Great Stay,” where stability is prioritized amidst economic uncertainty, tightening the job market. The gig economy is also on the rise, with more professionals opting for interim roles and project-based work. Emily and Ryan offer insights into today’s complex job market dynamics, addressing challenges and strategic considerations for both job seekers and employers in navigating these uncertain times.

Episode Transcript

We’ve been talking about it since January, we’re still experiencing a challenging market.

Absolutely. And I know that we’ve been talking about. Since January, kind of what are the, just the real reasons that are making the current market so like, I think chaotic is a good word. Yeah, chaotic, funky, unpredictable. Yeah. Hectic.

Hectic. Yeah. Yeah. I like that. I like that. Throw any other words you’d like in the comments. Go for it. Yeah. Put them in the comments for sure. But there are a lot. And, Em I know we’re going to chat through, like you’ll share some insights I will too. But I think to kick things off, layoffs, especially this year, the end of last year too have really impacted some very large industries, think tech, think creative fields.

As well as we’re continuing to kind of see changes within the retail sector. There’s been really large retailers like department stores that have been continuing to close their doors, which has impacted the labor market. And even giants like Amazonhave gone through layoffs. So historically, when we look back on things, tech has truly been like a very stable force in the labor market.

But that changed, especially this year when tech saw those large layoffs across the industry as a whole. And I think that has really created, you know, a lot of that chaos that we’ve been feeling so far this year. Yeah. And I do hope it’s kind of starting to plateau. Again, just to kind of remind you, I know we said this in the introduction, but sometimes I know our content can get spliced up a little bit.

So I’m a Director on our Go-To-Market recruiting team. Ryan’s a Vice President in our corporate functions recruiting team, HR, finance and accounting, admin jobs, all of that jazz. If we’re talking lenses, the lenses that we have, I’d say at least on the sales side of things, not seeing as many layoffs as we were seeing, like you said, at the end of last year and beginning of this year.

So hopefully those chips are starting to fall. Yeah I think we’re starting to see something stabilized, fingers crossed it stays that way. Like we said, this year has been unpredictable in terms of being able to like look forward and have an idea of what might happen. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’re stabilizing.

Yeah. And I think this is so funny, my friend the other day took like a totally random problem and she was like, oh yeah, the economy these days. But I think that it’s important to talk about, like, we’ve been navigating economic uncertainty now for well over a year. I know we like tend to blame all of the things on the economy. But I mean, it’s true. Right?

It’s true. Inflation and interest rates have climbed, increasing cost of living, et cetera. I mean, employees are definitely having a hard time keeping up with the increase in compensation. Sorry, employers are having a hard time- I said employees, that employees need in order to combat the rising rates that we’re all seeing. Right.

I mean, I think it’s caused some companies to just kind of pause their hiring altogether. But I think that that’s definitely a factor that’s leading to the chaos, if you will, just all of the economic uncertainty. It’s hard to keep up with the expenses and like good candidates cost a lot right now.

Exactly. Yeah. I totally agree with that statement Em. I mean, listen, if there’s any uncertainty in the economy it’s definitely going to impact the labor market. It always does. It’s probably always going to. And so I think those are things that we have to be really mindful of, like how much the economy truly plays into the instability, the chaos, the unpredictability of what we’re feeling in terms of the labor market this year.

Not surprising. The next point I want to make, we have talked very extensively about this over the years, but the changing market from an almost fully remote workforce back in 2020, of course, with the exception of those that absolutely needed to be on site, to then experiencing over the last, you know, six months,

I would say the last six months, especially, a really big push from employers to get people back into the office. But let’s be serious. Like 2020 forever changed the work landscape. And I think it’s been challenging for employees and employers to really find the balance of what does work look like moving forward.

And these return to work mandates, the impact that they’ve had on the labor market. And also I think in general, just how selective even employees would like to be about their next role. Flexibility has become more important than ever over the last four years. It’s been a huge driving factor in decision making for folks on the job market.

And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I think, you know, we’ve also talked about some folks wanting that in person time again. So we’re certainly starting to see some people craving a little bit more in person face time whether it be clients with their colleagues, whatever that might be. But I don’t see quite yet in the market this acceptance all around return to work mandate and that’s continued to have a big impact on things. Yeah, I know like this- we did an entire Talent Insights on this, but if today’s topic is a 6 month review, right? Like first half of the year review, like this is a huge topic.

You cannot ignore this. But it’s true. If you look at January to, you know, we’re pretty much end of June right now 2024 and compare it to January to end of June 2023, we have seen a huge spike in either hybrid or fully onsite roles. Absolutely. Right. Whereas fully remote, fully remote, is what we saw for say, you know, a few years during the pandemic.

Just to drive that one home, I think you’re correct. I think people are craving the in sight and we are seeing more and more hybrid roles. And as I talk to candidates, I’m sure you’d probably agree, I’m seeing a lot more openness to hybrid roles and excitement to collaborate face to face and in person.

I just still think, and again, this goes back, you could watch our Talent Insights we did back on this one. It’s the mandate, right? People just want like you said, the flexibility. Flexibility is such a hot topic and has been, like you said, during the first half of this year, people are craving flexibility.

They want to be treated like adults. You just mentioned how employees are being a little bit picky and like really prioritizing flexibility, things of that nature. I think it’s also important to kind of just talk about how kind of picky and selective employers are also being.

I know in a recent episode we talked about how selective companies are being right now. I think that there’s a larger focus on retaining talent and more of an emphasis on like really thoroughly, really, really, really thoroughly. So thoroughly find your own thoroughly. Yes. Maybe sometimes over thoroughly like vetting candidates and not only like slowing down hiring processes in general, but in some cases

leading just to an overall pause when employers are just unable to find like their unicorn candidate. Like, I know I say this. I’ve been saying this actually to a few people in the past few weeks. I think back to 3 years ago and I’m like, wow, if I put this candidate in front of this

client like three years ago, I swear they would have hired them after one conversation. Absolutely. The vetting process is intense right now. It is intense. And that is definitely, as we’re doing our first half of the year review, that is certainly a common theme that we are seeing is just intense interview processes, intense vetting processes, hyper fixation on that, what do we call it,

purple unicorn, purple squirrel. Rainbow, whatever you want to call it. Whatever it is, whatever is very hard to find. That’s what we want to label this as. Yeah. But I agree with you, Em. I mean, I think listen- anytime a process is extended specifically with hiring, it’s going to feel like a much bigger deal because we were making decisions, like you said, like time to fill a position last year even was probably just a few months where now we’re seeing roles open for five, six plus months where organizations are really wanting to find that most ideal, perfect experience, plug and play type of individual.

And so that just makes a big impact in terms of how quickly things are moving, what roles are open. And I think organizations are feeling more confident saying we’re just not going to hire right now, as opposed to saying this isn’t really exactly what we were looking for. I guess we’ll go with that person and we can train them in X, Y, and Z area.

So there, I think there’s a lot more confidence from the employer side to just say, we’ll wait for the right person. Yeah. And that’s a big, big pause. Totally. And it’s like, you’re referencing like all of the topics we’ve covered so recently, right? That the folks are, companies are looking for this plug and play candidate, whereas they used to just say like, oh, we’ll train them.

But I know we talked a couple of weeks ago about kind of the divestment from onboarding and training, right? And so I think companies, like you said, are just more comfortable being like, oh, we’ll wait till I find the right one, the V1 versus having to invest in training them. Yes, absolutely.

A couple other things and I think then we’ll be ready to wrap up. But over the last 3 years, we’ve seen an astronomical amount of candidates making career changes more than we have maybe ever. It’s been, you know, pretty intense from a career switch standpoint, but data now is indicating that we’re moving away from what we were calling the great resignation.

And we have entered what we’re now calling the great stay where people- I have not heard the great stay. The great stay is here. The articles be ready for it. I think we’ll start to hear that buzzword a lot more often, but truly data is indicating that people are making less, fewer and fewer career shifts right now. That they’re staying in roles for longer.

So ultimately what I think that means is people are just really craving stability, especially because the market is unstable right now. From an economy standpoint, they really want to find their home, so to speak from a professional standpoint. So people staying in roles often means there’s just fewer openings on the market.

Like I said, I have not heard the great stay. I feel like I’ve heard after the great resignation, I feel like I’ve heard recently the great hesitation, which ties back into a few things we’ve been talking about. The great stay, that’s interesting. And I think people like seeking stability and wanting to stay at their companies and I know that sometimes for us, that means having to go after like the passive candidates a little bit harder because, you know, sometimes in the past we’ll reach out.

You know, that’s what we do. We reach out. We find really great passive candidates. And they’re frequently open to chatting. But maybe in the next few months, we’ll see that they’re a little bit less open to chatting and not open to making a move. I do think though, it ties back into good candidates being more expensive because when they’re not looking and they’re craving stability and they’re wanting to stay at their current company, it’s

going to cost a little bit more to get them to make a move. So I think that it all kind of ties together. Yeah. Costs more or, you know, makes you provide more flexibility. There’s a million different reasons why people could want to stay, could want to look for a role. And we’ve talked extensively about that.

I’m just, you know, how employers can go to market with a different approach. And that’s just one of the very few things they can do to help kind of level things up. Yeah. Well I feel like maybe last one, we’ll see where this leaves us. But I think like the gig economy seems to be making a pretty significant comeback in the first half of this year with a lot of employees seeking like in term support on projects or part time resources, as opposed to full time support.

I know we look at our data when we’re looking at contract roles and part time. I think for several years, in term roles have been historically lower than in years past. But the current selectivity of employers, like, I just think they’re opting for service type work to get things done without

the commitment and cost of permanent workers. 1000%. I mean just looking at our corporate functions team in general from January to now, and even from the beginning of this quarter to now, we’ve seen such a significant increase in the need for interim support across a variety of skill sets. But I just think that organizations truly, truly, truly are in a space right now where they’re wanting to do more

with less. And bringing people on a full time basis is such an investment, not only financially, but you mentioned, onboarding and the training that goes into those things. And if we’re divesting in some of that stuff, it’s a lot harder to also bring on full time people and train and onboard them.

So we’re seeing this need for, you know, six month contracts for people to come in and work on an implementation or covering a PAT leave or, hey, somebody left, but we don’t want to backfill this role full time, we’re going to look at a part time. So there’s definitely been an increase and a shift in the market.

And I think we’re kind of getting back to like pre 2020 numbers with the interim support. We’re not exactly where we used to be, but we’re a lot closer to it than we have been over the last 4 years. So personally, I think that there’s going to be a continuation of that through the remainder of the year.

Again, hard to predict especially this year with all of the chaos and unpredictability that we’ve already experienced. But I do think that that’s going to continue to be a trend. And there might even be certain positions that kind of stay in that space for quite some time. Yeah. It’s good to hear your perspective on that because I know on the corporate function side of recruiting, you all see a lot more interim roles than we see on, well, you know, I know like go to market includes sales and marketing for us.

So I’d say we see it more on the marketing side than we do on the sales side. I actually just had a candidate get an offer yesterday and it was 1099. Like on a sales role. So, I think that’s a very, very good observation. I’m sure we missed some things. Like I’m trying to rack my brain to think if there’s any like- maybe I’m blocked off

to it because it’s been so chaotic. I’m like, I just don’t even want to think about it. I’m ready for the second- I’m weirdly kind of ready for the second half of the year. Yeah. Let’s go Q3. I’m ready for it. We’re ready for it. Well, if we missed anything, we’d love to hear from y’all as always.

Definitely.

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