by Tim Yarbrough, Sales Recruiter, ACA Talent
Today’s workforce is evolving at a rapid rate, particularly with regard to entry-level candidates. No longer are college grads leaving school and immediately joining the professional workforce. Thanks to a flooded candidate marketplace and increased competition for entry-level jobs, young people with student loans to pay back are finding themselves taking the long way around to a professional career path—all to keep the lights on and put food on the table. While it may seem like there is a shortage of talent, what’s really happening is a flood of candidates who may have great skills, but poor resumes.
This all began to snowball with the 2007 recession, which drastically changed the prospective life paths of a generation. Since the recession, significant changes in employment have affected the general population, from lay-offs, to business closings, to down-sizing. Among the affected were people under the age of 30, who were in college or recent graduates at the start of the downturn. Because of these circumstances, this segment of the population experienced a higher level of unemployment. According to the Pew Research Center, the 2011 unemployment rate for young adults ages 18 to 24 was 16.3% (compared to 10.3% for 25- to 29-year-olds and 8.6% for 30- to 34-year-olds). In 2011, the average unemployment rate for 18- to 64-year-olds was 8.8%.
With fewer jobs and more competition, recent graduates are faced with tough choices. Among all 18- to 34-year-olds, 49% are taking jobs they may not want in order to pay bills, and only 30% consider that job a career. On the other hand, 52% of workers ages 35 or older consider their current job a career. Others, doggedly pursuing a career, have turned to unpaid job opportunities (24%) or returning to school (35%) to give them an edge on the competition with additional experience or skills.
These haphazard career choices mean that by age 30, the average American will have had several different jobs, as well as significant gaps in employment—vastly different from the successful candidate profile of the past. This is why companies are finding it more difficult to find “qualified” candidates, although the market may be flooded with highly educated, qualified individuals. Because the hiring criteria don’t reflect the candidate pool, jobs remain unfilled. This suggests that the best way to reach talented players is to rethink recruiting.
Here are a few suggestions for recruiters.
1. Educate prospective employers on the changes in the candidate pool and help them understand how the workforce adapted to the recession. Help set realistic expectations for hiring.
2. Review resumes to determine whether candidates have the education, work history, aptitude, and skillsets necessary to meet the needs of employers.Ask probing questions to uncover experience or skills that may not be listed on the resume. Develop a relationship that goes beyond a simple phone screen.
3. Coach candidates on making the best impression and highlighting what they bring to the table. Help them write effective resumes, provide them with interviewing skills, and develop a strategy to get their career back on track.
Although the fluctuating workforce may be worrying, change isn’t always bad. For employers, adapting to an ever-shifting workforce may mean the difference between attaining a leading edge or being left in the dust by faster-evolving competitors.