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Monday, September 26, 2005

Is the Job Market Shifting?

A few days ago USA Today published this report about the job market. The report was done by CareerBuilder and it states that its becoming more of a jobseekers market rather than an employers one. I tend to agree with the report especially considering the fact that the baby boomers are aging and many industries such as nursing, engineering and education face looming problems as large percentages of their workforces are close to retiring.

A report exploring hiring and compensation trends found employers are finding it hard to recruit quality candidates and are willing to up the ante on job offers.

Looking back at the late 1990s, the U.S. job market was employee-driven. An abundance of jobs and lack of readily available talent fueled a heated competition among employers to secure recruits.

The situation changed with a debilitating recession that left budgets and staffs leaner, employers more selective and workers struggling to stand out in a stack of resumes.

Now, the dynamics are shifting once again as the economy slows and jobs are created. Power is becoming more evenly distributed between employers and job seekers.

The EDGE Report (Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations), commissioned by Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com, explores trends based on a nationwide survey of hiring managers and workers.

According to the survey:

* 42 percent of hiring managers report it was difficult to find qualified candidates a year ago.

* 32 percent say it's even more challenging today.

* The vast majority -- 86 percent -- think it will be equally or more challenging to find qualified candidates a year from now.

The survey indicates that employers remain cautious, closely scrutinizing qualifications and productivity potential of each applicant as they expand their staffs in the wake of a downturn.
These employers are concerned about finding top performers, with nearly half complaining of an overall shortage of workers with the skill level, experience and fit for their corporate culture.

This is likely to become more pronounced in the not-so-distant future as the Baby Boomer generation retires and smaller generations of replacement workers fall short of meeting labor quotas.

What does this mean for the workforce? It means qualified workers in a variety of industries and fields are in demand and are in a better position to negotiate.

And while skepticism remains, with 42 percent of workers saying the job market is more challenging today than a year ago, one in four are pursuing new employment. Forty-seven percent say they will leave their jobs within the next three years.

Those looking for new jobs may get a bigger paycheck, too. Half of hiring managers said they were not very or not at all willing to negotiate compensation levels for offers a year ago -- but compensation packages have increased over the past year, according to 28 percent of hiring managers. Thirty-three percent anticipate offering higher salary and benefits packages in the next 12 months.

Workers are taking notice. Although 39 percent of workers said they were not inclined to ask for a better job offer a year ago, nearly half expect to have more negotiating power and plan to push for a more generous starting salary in the next 12 months.

Since the starting salary determines raises and bonuses, negotiating an extra $1,000 to $5,000 when hired could earn one considerably more over the next decade.

Workers looking for new opportunities should keep these tips in mind:

Know your value: Research salary ranges for those working in your industry, occupation and location. Check out online salary calculators, industry Web sites and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find specific salary information.

Don't talk money too soon: Wait to be offered the job before you discuss your desired pay. If you're asked for salary requirements on a job application, write "based on job responsibilities."

Turn the table: If an employer asks you directly about your salary requirements, turn the question around and ask what salary range the company typically offers someone with your job type, experience and expertise. Come prepared with specific examples of how you have contributed to the success of previous employers to showcase your worth.

Consider the whole package: If the employer is not able to offer a higher salary, there may be room to negotiate other perks like a flexible schedule, extra vacation days, ongoing training, etc. Also, remember there is more to a job than money. Take into consideration experience gained on the job, career advancement opportunities, work/life balance and other important factors to help determine the true value of the offer.

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