BLS report: Fewer workers means more competition (for you)
The latest BLS report came out Friday, and it’s no more promising than it has been all year. Worse, there are indications that the workforce continues to contract, meaning top performers are in high demand.
The basic statistics for August aren’t surprising: 96,000 new jobs created in a variety of areas, with nothing pointing to significant growth in any one area. The private sector created jobs, while the manufacturing industry continued to show no signs of improvement.
The red flag for me was the reason behind the unemployment rate drop. The rate dipped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, which would be welcome if not for the fact that it fell because labor force participation dropped by 368,000 workers. Why is this important? It means companies are still trying to do more with fewer workers.
OK, that’s not a shock. However, it should start raising some eyebrows among those who are trying to attract and retain top performers in crucial areas. Top performers are more valuable than ever.
The other interesting thing about the latest BLS numbers is that professional and technical services added 27,000 jobs in August (this includes those in computer-related fields, as well as many traditional white-collar jobs). That’s a good piece of the increase in jobs.
These two things indicate that companies are hiring experienced technical and professional workers. But they are being very conservative about it, meaning they are trying to get the most value for the workers they hire.
What’s the best way to do this? Find the top performers at a competitor, or find someone with a wide range of skills who can do a multitude of tasks. That takes time and recruiting savvy.
So there are two takeaways from this:
- If your company is looking for highly skilled, professional workers: The old methods and general recruiting tactics are not going to work. Finding candidates who are gainfully employed, highly skilled, or have tons of experience takes time, resources, and experience. HR and general recruiters will be hard pressed to fill your needs here.
- If your company employs highly skilled, experienced professionals: Look at your employee engagement efforts and make sure workers have a reason to stay. Sooner or later someone will find them. This includes any temporary workers you have. While you might not have a direct position available for temporary labor, you’ll want to keep them around until you do. Otherwise they’ll move on.
So far this year, there hasn’t been much good news related to the BLS reports. Because it doesn’t look like much is going to change before the end of the year or the start of 2013, you need to review your recruiting strategies and talent acquisition efforts now. The competition for good hires just got a little tougher.