Has the Hottest Talent Market in Decades Died?

In the last few months, global markets have been shaking. Catalyzed with the crypto markets crashing down, increasing inflation, and spiraling consumer credit, we’re likely to see some significant shifts in workplace battles.

Most prominently, we’re starting to see a groundswell of change from the very strong candidate market we’ve experienced last year. With increased vacancies due to the great resignation compounded by a drive for growth (particularly in venture-backed companies), up until recently, employers have been cap in hand, desperate to find candidates to interview and make offers to.

The talent market has been so hot that candidates who have been active in the job market or passively open to considering a career move would typically have several job offers at any given time, driving up package offers and pressuring employers to make quick hiring decisions.

A Field Day for Recruiters

The early days of the pandemic when employers were able to source high-quality candidates through online job ads (LinkedIn and so forth) ended. Top recruiters with access to great talent pools became everyone’s best friends. Throughout 2021, many recruiters reported a ‘waiting time’ of up to 4 weeks before they could attend to new talent searches.

In short, we had an overboiling candidate-driven market, where in-demand candidates (a.k.a. anyone who was available!) were able to call the shots. They could easily walk away from current jobs that did not fulfill their needs for flexibility, and feel absolutely no qualms passing on job offers that required them to be in-office.

For months, companies have been trying to figure out optimal, hyper-personalized, hybrid solutions in order to retain and attract top talent. New job titles to handle the tricky domain of flexible and hybrid work have emerged – think VP of Flexible Work (and similar).

But the hybrid work movement is possibly about to do a ‘u-turn’, or at least a ‘yield’ with the massive global economic changes that are already impacting talent and hiring trends.

The Tides are Shifting…Again

Recently, VC firms have sent a "hold it on the hiring spree"​ memo to their porfolio companies.

Recently, VC firms have sent a blanket memo to their portfolio companies; namely – “hold it on the hiring spree”. With valuations needing a reset, cost and burn rates are being reevaluated as we speak, with the quickest and most direct impact being the salary bill.

For the first time since the early days of the pandemic, we’re seeing layoffs and hiring freezes. Big hiring plans are being put on hold as the market recalibrates.

What does this mean for a candidate? This new trend means a shift in the hiring market from candidate-driven back to employer-driven. Meaning fewer offers, reduced negotiating power, and a greater willingness to accept (or stay in) a job that may no longer be offering remote or hybrid working conditions.

Don’t Panic, Not All Is Lost

Whilst the frenzied hype of the hottest talent market in decades may be remembered with nostalgia as we move into a more sustainably paced hiring phase, there has nevertheless been a significant ‘upgrade’ in flexibility and enhanced support for employees over the last two years.

And in many respects, this reset is a really good thing for everyone. It presents an opportunity for greater due diligence, more prudent screening, and increased deliberation from both employers and candidates on either side of the hiring process – which should lead to greater quality hiring and career decisions.

Consider this a moment to breathe, and settle into a new phase of making things work with what we have right now. We have the chance to set a foundation at a higher bar than ever before, and then make further gains from this point.