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Rising Wages, Shrinking Talent Pool

Employment forecast spells out hiring trends for 2017

By Kevyn Burger
Mon, 2017-02-13 10:23

These days if you’re looking to buy a home, you’d better show up at the open house ready to write an offer, maybe above asking price.

Just as it’s a buyer’s market in the residential real estate sector, there are also bidding wars going on to snag new employees with in-demand skills.

“The hiring market is on fire!” says Stacey Stratton, founder and CEO of the True Talent Group, a boutique staffing agency for creative and marketing professionals.

Stratton, 40, calls herself a career matchmaker. Her 25-person Edina-based agency works with a pool of some 9,000 mid to senior-level writers, project managers, designers and digital marketers.

But she sees the fevered hunt for top talent extending beyond the cohort she works with.

“In business, we have seen that in a downturn, the creative and marketing professionals are usually the first to go and they’re the last to be added on in a recovery. So we know that if our sector is busy, it reflects the overall market.”

Stratton’s company produces an annual Talent Forecast report that anticipates the employment outlook for the coming year for Twin Cities businesses. The report, which notes five hiring trends, is available via download.

This year the forecast finds that employees are in the driver’s seat.

The prime reason that companies have to dangle more generous salaries, sweeter benefits and more flexible working conditions is because of low unemployment. Minnesota is currently experiencing its highest employment rate, with 2.9 of its citizens in the workforce; the state’s unemployment rate has hovered just under 4%, making it among the lowest in the nation. (DEED press release on MN unemployment rate) 

“Everyone is working. Employers have to create a total career opportunity to lure someone to leave their current job and come work for them,” she says. “Now talent is interviewing you as much as the other way around.”

As a result of the supply-and-demand pinch, Stratton sees wages rising across the board. The 2017 trend forecast states, “In a hot job market, new hires make top dollar.”

Bringing in a fresh face at a high wage comes with its own perils, Stratton warns.

“In every office, people talk about salaries. It can create internal drama when a new person comes in making more than others did when they started. Employers have to think about their resources to retain their existing team.”

In order to stay fully staffed, Stratton urges employers to keep an open mind when reviewing resumes and credentials. She thinks the tight market is prompting employers to give a second look to candidates they might have previously dismissed.

“Look deeper than the resume,” she urges. “Businesses have to dig to find the right people. Look outside the box. You can teach someone the skills they need if they are a good cultural fit for the organization.”

Stratton stresses that the change in the market ups the game for hiring managers. The pace of seeking new team members and making an offer has accelerated, and those who don’t step up their timetable will lose out.

She suggests that employers take immediate steps to streamline their hiring processes.

“Used to be you would run a candidate through three or four interviews and then review it for a while. Now you could lose out if your process is slow. It’s so competitive that a candidate will get another offer while you’re thinking about it,” Stratton says.

Companies can also expect to offer more perks with the job, but Stratton says that flexibility is still the number one benefit employees are seeking.

“Maybe they want to work from home a few days, or have hours they can adjust to manage their family responsibilities,” she says. “There are people who will actually work for less if they can get flexibility in their jobs.”