This is the second of our periodic updates on what we're observing in the local Washington DC association and nonprofit job market. (We handle more senior staff searches than most executive search firms, so after completing 800 searches we know what the job market numbers should look like.)
Current Situation with Employers
We are not seeing layoffs from any of our clients, but we are seeing a few hiring freezes on non-essential positions. This appears to be a simple way to hold the line on budgets until things stabilize. It's mostly a case of stopping to reevaluate. I expect many of those freezes will thaw when offices reopen, events can be held, and budgets can be adjusted for lost revenue during the shutdown.
For essential positions, with very few exceptions, our searches have moved forward to offer and acceptance. This has been true even when a hiring freeze was announced. And from what I am hearing, even those few exceptions will only be delayed until early June.
At the senior staff levels, the local DC job market is just as competitive as it was two months ago. It's kind of amazingly normal actually, especially by comparison with so many sectors in the economy where layoffs are the norm. In our sector, we are still seeing candidates considering multiple job offers. We're not seeing desperation from most candidates, nor any willingness to accept lower salaries. (We have more information on compensation trends below.)
Our recruiting timelines are the same as before (just as fast as always), but we are finding that interview scheduling with our clients is becoming easier because hiring executives are traveling less. We are seeing some "creativity" with scheduling video interviews on nights and weekends. (Really, who among us can even tell what day of the week it is anymore?)
The bottom line is this: if you have a key opening and need somebody to start work when you reopen your office, get started now. Jump in, the water is ... kinda normal.
Current Situation with Job Seekers
In our job postings and direct recruiting efforts, we are still not seeing a meaningful change in the numbers of people applying, the caliber of people responding, or the salary expectations of people applying. In our sector of the economy, it is not getting any easier to hire great people nor is it getting any harder. And we're not seeing any shift in compensation trends (except that most people are probably not expecting a bonus for their 2020 work).
The biggest change in candidate behavior we are seeing occurs at the time of job offer. Candidates have been perfectly willing to accept video first, second and third interviews, video panel interviews, etc.. What happens now is that candidates want one final conversation to reassure themselves before moving into the offer phase. They want a real heart to heart about the employer's expectations for remote work, they need to understand what drives the financial health of the organization, and be assured of the importance of the job. Fundamentally this boils down to, "Will I have the support I need to be successful in a remote environment with this organization? And if I am successful, can I be assured that my new employer will not make me, 'The last one in and first one to go' when times get tough?"
Employers need to think carefully how to handle these valid concerns, signaling their capability and flexibility in supporting remote work, and confidence in their plans for moving forward in this chaotic environment.
Our Status at Staffing Advisors:
Because we have always been a fully remote company, we've had no interruptions in our operations and are continuing to interview candidates at a brisk clip. Our clients are becoming increasingly familiar with virtual interviews and we're continually developing new resources to support them as issues arise. That's why we recently published guidance about how to avoid the pitfalls of video interviews.
Sharing the Best Advice We’ve Heard From Others:
In our monthly newsletter we share the most useful research and perspective from a variety of sources, but our monthly newsletter seems waaaay too slow in these times of constant change. So I have included a few links to the most useful content I've seen in the last couple of weeks:
- Keating Advisors labor market update (COVID-19's impact on pay and rewards)
- Josh Bersin on the key elements of remote work
- Why succession planning is a more pressing issue now (at every level)
If you are a hiring manager, and you don't want to wait 2 weeks for our next labor market update, or a wait a month for our next newsletter, just follow me on Twitter (or you could kick it old school and pick up the phone and call me.)
If you want to see the latest news and trends on who is hiring, and other advice for job seekers, you can also follow Staffing Advisors on Twitter.