As we look towards 2008, to say that it will be difficult to assess the economic climate, is an understatement. It’s a mixed picture to be sure. Economists surveyed by the Wall StreetJournal are mixed on the odds of the country sliding into a recession. There are negative effects of the sub-prime credit collapse, yet markets continue to move up albeit in a volatile fashion. So while we can’t make predictions about the rate of job growth in 2008, we can identify some interesting trends.
Tech Is Back
According to the high-tech trade association, AeA, we are experiencing the third straight year of job growth in the technology sector. And, for the first time since the dot com crash, jobs have been added across the board including communications and manufacturing.
We continue to see strong demand coupled with a tight talent market in the security, storage, networks, and data management and across the board in areas of product management, marketing, and business development.
Deep Experts With Business Skills Remain In Hot Demand
Employers continue to look for candidates that have specific expertise coupled with business acumen. A“BSEE/MBA” is often a desired qualification for product marketing candidates. IT leaders who demonstrate an ability to think about the business needs first, technology second, are highly sought after. Business professionals who are experts in their respective segments and possess the ability to grow businesses write their own tickets in this market. Continued pressure to make each hire count is prevalent. Companies who bring in and retain talent that can scale, will somewhat mitigate the looming talent crisis created as baby boomers exit the work force and are replaced by a 35% smaller ‘GenX’ talent pool.
Candidate Demands Accelerate In A Warm Market
With the lowest employment rate in seven years, coupled with a shortage of professionals that meet the rising tide of qualifications, we can expect hot candidates to become increasingly demanding. Gone are the days of 2000 when candidates rolled the dice on equity in lieu of market pay. Today, we are seeing near market compensation along with decent equity positions offered in early stage companies. The fact is the work is often more difficult and more demanding in early stage companies — employees want guarantees that will pay off for them. You and I weren’t the only ones to have read that the key to being happier is to have more control over your life. Expect that in addition to salary, candidates will make demands aimed at improving their quality of life.
Business travel, between enhanced security and overtaxed skies, is getting more difficult. Candidates are negotiating for less travel and many more are simply passing on ‘road warrior’ positions. The stress of commuting coupled with access to technology has resulted in candidates frequently asking for the ability to work at home several days a week. And while we’re at it, why come in at all? More employers use remote work environments as a way to retain and attract talent. More candidates are reluctant to relocate in this housing market and request the option to commute weekly if the particular job demands it.
Candidates Are More Transparent
The increasing popularity of professional network sites give potential employers more texture about candidates. Increasingly, people are vetting people through social networking sites. According to CareerJournal, LinkedIn did 23 reference checks on Dan Nye* for the CEO job without his knowledge.
With continued emphasis on making every hire count, the market will continue to tighten almost irrespective of the economy for top tier talent. And with that comes an increasingly known candidate pool armed to negotiate.
*Chief Executive Officer at LinkedIn