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Job Seeker’s Market on the Horizon: What Does Your Future Hold?

Beth N. Carvin is CEO of Nobscot Corporation, which makes exit interview management software. She has more than 20 years of business management and HR experience.

We asked her Five Questions:

1) Now that the job situation is improving, some employees are bound to be looking to leave their current jobs and look for new ones. Is it a job seeker market yet?

No, it’s not a job seeker’s market yet but things are certainly improving for those looking for employment. The market tends to move in wide swings. When it’s an employer’s market, companies have all the power in the job negotiations.

When it’s an employee’s market, employees can demand better titles, sign-on bonuses and higher starting salaries. In the late 1990s, some companies were giving out car leases on exotic cars in order to entice job seekers.

That’s a job seeker’s market. We’re actually just beginning to make the transition from employer’s market to job seeker’s market.

My favorite time is when the pendulum is swinging from one side to another. There’s a period of time when things are relatively even and each side needs to treat the other fairly. That’s where we are headed right now. With any luck we will stay there for a period of time before it swings too far in another direction.

2) If an employee is trying to decide whether to leave or stay in her current job, what criteria would you suggest she use?

I’m a firm believer in trying to make things work where you are at. That means getting a tougher skin for things that don’t go your way and  taking it upon yourself to improve the challenges you face. If you are bored with your work, take the initiative and start a project that will help your boss, the department or your company.

Not only will it make your job more fun, but you will likely be recognized as a valuable go-getter by someone who has the power to make your work life better. When it comes to the workplace, you reap what you sow — but you have to sow first.  It’s amazing how you can transform your own job by taking initiative.

If your company is in a state of flux which is causing painful changes, sometimes it’s a matter of waiting them out. I’m reminded of professional woman who had been with her company for many years.  She was in a fairly senior managerial position when suddenly the company brought in another woman who was to be her new boss.

The new boss was rude and difficult and did not like this long standing professional even though she had always done extremely well with the organization.  For the first time, the professional began thinking she had to leave the company; a company that she loved and had given so much to over the years.

My advice was to hang on and wait it out. When one person comes in and (seemingly) ruins everything, that person usually doesn’t last very long.  Sure enough, the next time I saw this woman, the new boss was gone and everything had gone back to normal.

Sometimes though you find that you’ve made a mistake in joining a particular company or the company has changed in dramatic ways that no longer align with your values or interests. If you make a sincere effort to improve your situation and nothing happens for the better, then it might be time to explore new opportunities.

3) What are some signs that HR managers should look for that their workforce is looking?

HR needs to be keep an eye out for “irritations” that are occurring in various parts of the organization. “Irritations” are annoyances (large and small) that collectively drive employees out the door.  The challenge is that irritations vary from company to company.

There’s no one check-off list of the top 10 Irritations to eliminate. HR has to discover their organization’s own unique irritations.

Complicating matters further each department, division, job type has it’s own irritations. In one department there might be a problem manager. In another there might be a nonsensical procedure that everyone must follow or unfair work schedules.

Employees in a different area might be suffering from rotten co-workers with whom everyone must work. They are all irritations and eventually they drive people out the door.

4) What are three ways that HR managers can reduce employee turnover?

1. Identify irritations through exit interviews and other employee surveys and from continually keeping in touch with employees in various parts of the organization.

2. Work with a cross functional team to create a roadmap to reduce and/or eliminate the irritations.

3. Hire employees that have high tolerance levels and/or like working amidst the irritations!  I used to joke that if employees are leaving because the lighting is so terrible you have two choices. Choice 1 is to replace the light bulbs. Choice 2 is to hire people who like to work in the dark.

5) How has the hiring process changed since the recession? What are the primary ways that HR people look for new hires today?

Although I spent much of my career in Recruiting, for the last 10 or 12 years my focus has been on employee retention. Recruiting has changed dramatically in that time frame. One thing that hasn’t changed is the emphasis on employee referrals.

Companies still recognize that the best employees come from people they know.  Technology has helped expand that network so it’s not just people you know, but people who know people who know people you know. Various forms of social media, niche job boards and career websites have expanded the recruiting landscape.

They allow companies to cast a wider net.  This is a good thing for HR and it’s also a good thing for women seeking positions. As the job market continues to normalize, there will be a lot of openings and a lot of access to these positions.

Beth N. Carvin is a seasoned entrepreneur, business leader, and researcher. As the Chief Executive Officer of Nobscot Corporation, she guides a software enterprise focused on assisting businesses in enhancing employee retention and supervising corporate mentoring initiatives.

She boasts expertise in the field of human resources and diversity, often sharing her insights as a keynote speaker and panelist at a wide array of events nationwide and is  an author. Beyond her corporate pursuits, Carvin has embarked on a new venture called JamBios, a platform designed to inspire people to relive and document their life stories collaboratively with loved ones.

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