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May 4, 2023

Hiring Was Already Hard, Now It's Extra 'Weird' — Here’s How to Cope

a person is an alligator costume walking towards a help wanted sign

The 2023 job market is turning out to be, well...weird

From hiring scrambles to mass layoffs, it seems like everything’s happening all at once.

In today's kooky labor market, it's not uncommon for two employers to have two drastically different experiences when it comes to hiring. So what can you do about it?

While we don't have a magic formula, we do have some tips to help you cope with the weird jobs market and even come out ahead.

5 tips for a strange talent market:

  1. Create your fractional workforce strategy
  2. Build a cohesive team culture
  3. Review your compensation strategy
  4. Drop the hire-and-fire model
  5. Upskill your existing workforce

Not sure what to expect next? Our latest report surveyed over 1,000 employers to uncover the most pressing hiring challenges of the year. Download the free report and discover a wealth of best practices you can implement today to be ready for tomorrow.

What’s so weird about the current US labor market?

Hiring surges. Mass layoffs. Today’s talent market is a web of inconsistencies, a mashup of things that probably shouldn’t be happening at the same time but somehow…are? Confusing, we know.  And we know it’s making it hard to hire.

A lot of the volatility comes down to the sector you’re in. While tech giants like Meta and Amazon are cutting jobs, with new job layoff stories hitting the news almost weekly, many service based industries are still hurting for employees.

In January alone, the jobs report tells us that US employers cut almost 103,000 jobs, the highest number since fall of 2020. Meanwhile, employers added roughly 517,000 jobs at the start of the year — that’s nearly three times the number analysts predicted.

With the lowest unemployment rate since 1969, things seemed to be looking good. But what about all those tech layoffs at software companies? Which wave are we riding? And what’s the deal with this major cognitive dissonance in the world of hiring?

Even Ray Smith, a career and workplace Wall Street Journal reporter, found his head spinning after the latest news.

“I honestly thought, WTF…it just didn't make sense to me. I didn't understand how you could reconcile all the layoff news and the talk of recession and these strong job numbers. I just have this question, how can these two things be true at the same time?”

According to David Kelly, JPMorgan’s Chief Global Strategist, we have the pandemic to thank for this “legacy of weirdness.”

Whether you’re hiring for open roles in manufacturing, food service, or finance, or leisure and hospitality ahead of the summer season, you may still be feeling the sting of the pandemic. Question is, what can you do about it?

Navigating a ‘weird’ talent market: 5 tips for a future-fit hiring strategy

Hiring has taken an unusual turn in 2023. 

While we may not be able to fully predict what’s next, there are a few practical ways employers can learn to cope with this legacy of weirdness.

1. Create your fractional workforce strategy

According to Ben Brooks, Founder and CEO of PILOT Inc, employers find comfort amid chaos if they view the disruption as an opportunity rather than an impediment. 

“In chaos and disruption there is always opportunity. Compared to 1-2 years ago there's a lot of really great talent in the market, and more people than ever are open to consulting or contract roles,” Ben explains. By diversifying the type of the roles you’re hiring for, you can start building an agile workforce that’s ready for anything.

Milo Cruz, Chief Marketing Officer at Freelance Writing Jobs, also expects contingent workers to play a bigger role in this uncertain job market.

"Employers will rely heavily on the contingent workforce to become more flexible and adaptable to unexpected job market changes.”

With a clear strategy for tapping into the fractional workforce, employers with fluctuating labor demands can scale their recruitment as needed.

“Unlike traditional employment, adopting a contingent workforce is less expensive and doesn't require long-term commitments. This can be beneficial in times of uncertainty when the demand for labor may fluctuate rapidly,” Milo explains.

To see where your contract-based hires could do the most good, Ben suggests conducting a simple SWOT analysis to pinpoint areas of the business where you can be opportunistic, no matter the job market.

“HR leaders that are looking at both current and future structural trends in the employment market, including the implications of technology and generational differences, will spot both threats to the success of their current approaches, as well as identify hacks and other checkmate moves to attract and retain future leaders.”

2. Build a cohesive team culture

Every HR pro knows a strong team can withstand a whole lot of weirdness. But to build your ultimate zombie apocalypse team, you need to look beyond the resume to prioritize culture add.

“Above all, you should focus less on skills measurement and more on finding the best cultural fit,” says Karolina Kijowska, Head of People at PhotoAiD. With increasing turnover in many industries, placing a deeper emphasis on building a strong team culture and making everyone feel a part of the company is key.

“There will always be some company that offers more money, better benefits or some other deal breaker that can potentially lead to getting a resignation letter from your employee,” says Karolina. But she remains optimistic.

“However, if your team consists of people who strongly believe in their work for you and get along amazingly with their coworkers, there is a big chance that they will stay in your company.”

With 80% of millennials valuing culture fit over career potential, investing in hires who understand your employer brand and are fully bought into your company ethos is critical to building a loyal and future-ready labor force.

3. Review your compensation strategy

While culture certainly matters, experts like Andrew Fennell, Founder and Director of StandOut CV, believe employers also need to be ready to address the impact of inflation internally if they want their top talent to stick around. 

And with over a decade of experience in global recruitment for brands like Deloitte and Mercedes, we’re going to take his word for it.

“Employees are very aware the grass might actually be greener elsewhere, [so] perhaps a review of internal workload or compensation packages is warranted.”

Take a page from The Miner’s Hotel’s book. Located in Butte, Montana, this boutique hotel suffered from a sky-high housekeeper turnover rate, resulting in unmade beds and a poor guest experience. To breathe new life into their cleaning program, they raised the hourly pay for housekeepers from $11 to $12.50, reducing their turnover rate and keeping their business running smoothly.

In an economy defined by uncertainty, rising interest rates, and inflation, experts like Andrew would tell employees that increasing employee compensation isn’t just smart — it’s also the right thing to do.

“If the business is growing, expect employees to look for higher salaries internally. They are seeing the growth they contributed to and want a piece of the pie to fight inflation. Teams need to prepare for this and factor budgets accordingly," says Andrew.

4. Drop the hire-and-fire model

Gauri Manglik, CEO and Co-founder of Instrumentl predicts that in 2023, the job market will stay weird. But that doesn’t mean we have to get wrapped up in the wackiness.

“I think that in the coming years, we'll see a lot of companies hiring aggressively to build up their rosters and then letting people go just as quickly when they realize they don't need them anymore,” Gauri warns.

“We've already seen this kind of thing happen with Uber and Lyft — they hire thousands of people every month just to keep up with demand and then lay them off again when demand slows down.”

While this hire-and-fire model may seem profitable in the short run, experts like Gauri argue that it’s simply unsustainable. Not only that, but the manic strategy of job growth and job cuts without regard for how these will affect employees reflects poorly on your company culture.

Her advice? Keep the long view, even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

“While it can be difficult for employers to keep up with all the recent changes in the job market, it's important not to lose sight of your organization's goals and objectives.”

Because according to Gauri, “If you focus on those things first, you'll find it easier to create an effective strategy for dealing with uncertainty in the future.”

5. Upskill your existing workforce

Sam Tabak, a Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities board member, has witnessed his fair share of layoffs due to employee skill mismatch. But instead of hiring new employees, Sam recommends upskilling your existing workforce.

“Companies should launch training programs to reskill, upskill, and cross-skill their employees,” Sam explains.

“This helps bridge skills gaps and fill job positions more efficiently without spending much money and wasting more time hiring external job seekers. It also fosters internal career growth and overall team satisfaction, allowing the company to retain its existing talents and create loyal employees."

If you’re struggling with chronic skills gaps, don’t just give employees the boot. Instead, invest in helping them learn the advanced skills needed for today and tomorrow.

From online workshops, mentorship opportunities, bootcamps, apprenticeships, and more, learning a new software or digital skill can transform your workforce and reignite employee engagement. You simply need to seize the opportunity.

Futureproof your hiring process with Breezy

While the labor market is confusing, convoluted, and just plain weird at times — the opportunities for success are real for those who choose to go after them.

From creating a fractional workforce strategy to leaning into team culture and upskilling your employees, there’s a lot of opportunity amid the chaos. You just have to be ready to capture it.

Breezy is the modern applicant tracking system that helps you level up your hiring with scalable recruitment features for every talent strategy. 

With candidate-friendly features that help you showcase your open positions, streamline candidate screening, and simplify offers and onboarding, you can spend less time wading through an avalanche of applications and more time connecting with top candidates.

Beat the weirdness and find out how easy hiring can be with a free 14-day trial.