Wide Open Job Market Creates New Challenges for Business

By Jim Moody, CAE
CSA President

I stumbled across a couple of news items about the job market this week that made me stop and think. No, I’m not looking for a job. But many of you ARE looking for employees. If you are in that boat, you probably already know that the tide has turned.

It’s not so easy to find good candidates, not that it was ever really easy.

The first item I saw was from Forbes magazine. The article was about the times when it’s appropriate for a candidate to end the interview and walk out. I remember a day not so long ago that, short of being attacked, no candidate would ever walk out on an interview. Today people can be a bit more discriminating.

So what were the valid reasons, according to Forbes contributor Liz Ryan, that you should walk out? Some of these might not surprise you, but I bet some will:

  • You don’t feel safe.
  • The environment is in disrepair, dirty or depressing.
  • The interviewer is rude.
  • There is no opportunity to say anything of substance.
  • The interviewer is flustered and seems unprepared.
  • They are not interviewing you as much as selling you on the job.
  • The interviewer seems not to know what questions are inappropriate or illegal.
  • During the interview, you are told that if you get the job you’ll have to hand over your contact list.
  • You meet the department manager, and he or she is dreadful.
  • Your gut tells you to get out.

I’m not saying I subscribe to all of these, but I do think it’s interesting that this is the advice going out to candidates today. I suspect most of our members see themselves in at least three or four of these. Will it hamper your ability to find top candidates? Time will tell, but it would be a shame to have the perfect candidate walk out on you for something you could have easily fixed.

The other item that shocked me was a radio piece by a noted consumer advocate in the Atlanta area. Clark Howard is syndicated nationwide, and he has a lot of influence. He said that if you want more money, now is the time to look for another job. People are rarely rewarded financially for loyalty but experience is paid a premium in the job market right now.

So, the advice on the street is not to hesitate to look for another job, and if you are looking for one and get the slightest bit of willies in the interview, walk out.

That’s not exactly heartwarming for business owners, particularly folks who own businesses in less-glamorous industries. You may well find that you have to step up your game to attract even mediocre talent, but you also might want to do a quick scan of your salaries to make sure that your key folks are not compensated under market value. It’s a sure bet that if you have someone who’s an “A” player, they could have other perhaps more lucrative opportunities just down the street.

On the other hand, if you are that “A” player, I can also say to you that the grass is not always greener. Rarely is it worth it to leave a place you otherwise love simply for a little more money. If you are offered another opportunity, and your current employer has been loyal to you (and let me assure you, if you stayed employed during the downturn, your employer sacrificed greatly to keep you on payroll), you owe him or her the opportunity to match before you accept another position. You also need to factor in the difficulty of starting in a new system and new culture, which may or may not be as good as the one you are already in.