Friday Rant: Delayed Hiring or a New Employment Paradigm

Jobless claims rose by 31,000 last week "…largely reversing a 41,000 drop in the prior week and lead[ing] to new concerns that jobless claims are stalling at a high level" according to today's WSJ. Headlines such as this are a gnawing reminder to those seeking employment that the market will remain tight for some time to come -- and might, in fact, not return to pre-recession levels for a very long time.

I suspect there may be a disconnect for many unemployed people in that they're looking to replace their previous job with a similar one. Not only in terms of their acquired skills but also salary, benefits, vacation etc. and this may not be a realistic expectation in the emerging marketplace. Contingent labor is on the rise and is seen by many as a positive indicator that full time hiring will soon follow. But what if that's not so?

Employers utilizing contingent labor are very likely to realize that while they pay a higher direct rate per hour, that rate precludes having to recruit talent in-house, reduces payroll taxes and benefit costs and is also a hedge against paying future contributions to unemployment compensation when a project ends or that aspect of their business falls off. Furthermore, as the global economy continues to grow, it will become increasingly apparent that many workers in the U.S. and other Western cultures will not be able to command their historical pay rates and will need to accept less compensation if they continue in the same line of work. This is not about off-shoring jobs or protectionist labor policies per se, but acknowledging that the global economy will continuously shrink many local markets and the employment opportunities they have historically provided.

I know far too many people who have been unemployed for far too long. My advice to many of them has been to not take the black-hole into which they feed their resumes -- and never receive a response -- personally. But rather use what time remains of their unemployment benefits to redefine their role in the marketplace. Most everyone has talents they've not monetized or interests not yet pursued. The time is right to investigate alternative sources of income and it beats the heck out of waiting to hear back on those employment applications.

William Busch

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