Is the Job Market Really That Bad?
By Andrew Davis
The quick answer is "yes, it's that bad."
What's going on?
By contrast with the past six years, when we had at least ten times this number of active listings and would often post seven or eight new opportunities each week, we now receive an average of one new listing every couple of weeks.
At the risk of demoralizing you further, you need to know the following:
Today's high-tech economy is truly a mirror image of last year's. There are now many more qualified candidates available than there are (funded) positions, and companies with openings realize that they often don't need to use recruiters to fill them.
Basically, it's no longer a candidate's market. Control is now firmly in the hiring managers' hands, and they know it.
What should you do?
As a result of this shift, we strongly suggest the following responses:
Managers with whom we work remain responsive and interested in working with us. They often go out of their way to evaluate and interview our candidates before those from other sources, and give us the benefit of the doubt if issues arise. They see us as reliable allies in their hiring process, and frequently tell us that they'd bring us more listings if they could.
If you can't afford to be unemployed and are concerned about your job's viability, update your resume now, and let's launch your job search in earnest. You can always count on us to respond quickly and honestly, with the bad news as well as the good, so that you know where you stand.
If we don't have the right opportunity for you right now, there's always brassring, hotjobs, monster, and dice. Be aware, however, that most recruiters have no real (ie, funded) listings and are simply harvesting resumes. For this reason, we suggest that you respond only to direct employers' ads.
Management everywhere appears to be striving for "profitability at any cost." Budget reductions have resulted in hiring freezes, layoffs, plummeting morale, and vastly increased pressure on those still employed.
No one asked us, but we doubt that customers will be better served by this strategy than they were by the "ship it now" imperative of the late 1990s. Product quality will decrease as companies' development and support teams are decimated, and customer satisfaction will follow suit as delivery dates are delayed and feature sets reduced. Customers will continue to sit on their wallets, as will venture capitalists, until there's compelling evidence that companies can deliver on their promises.
Common sense suggests that the tech wreck is an over-reaction by both investors and customers, and that the pendulum has already swung too far in the opposite direction relative to last Fall. The prevailing mood among tech pubs hiring managers, however, is not one of anticipation or hope, but of acceptance tinged with fear. They have no control over their budgets or hiring priorities, have had to postpone or cancel raises and bonuses, and are focused entirely on preserving what they have left. Most have resigned themselves to doing more with less, even though they know that some members of their teams have been burnt out for years. In short, no one's having fun, and the only long-term winners will be the therapists.
Is there any relief around the corner?
The evidence is contradictory, and our hiring managers haven't made us any promises, but we remain stubbornly optimistic that hiring momentum will increase during calendar Q4 (that's October--December).
Although it sometimes appears that only hyper-qualified, well-connected, and insanely productive technical publications veterans are having an easy time finding work, we continue to see occasional opportunities for intermediate-level candidates with relevant work experience. What's changed is that there are now no opportunities for entry-level candidates; this is a terrible time to be trying to enter the technical communications business.
Across the board, fewer managers than ever are willing to take chances on someone who "could do the job", opting instead to hire someone who's already done it, ideally more than once. We're seeing most managers act more slowly, cautiously, and with more focus on ensuring a high-quality match (in terms both of personality fit and professional function), so hiring decisions that might have been made in a week last year are now taking a month.
Unfortunately for jobseekers, supply and demand now work in the hiring manager's favor. As one particularly candid observer opined, "it's a crowded candidate market in a very expensive neighborhood with sharply reduced demand, where hiring decisions are controlled by panic-stricken executives; you do the math."
Will Synergistech survive?
Absolutely. We'll emerge from this economic meltdown stronger and more effective than ever. We have plenty of cash, a talented and cohesive recruiting and operations team who are all committed to going the distance, excellent relationships with thousands of hiring managers and candidates, and an ever-improving recruiting infrastructure.
We're boosting our marketing efforts, investing in our recruiters' professional growth, optimizing our database, setting up alliances with selected ancillary services, implementing virtual private network and other tele-working technology, overhauling our Web site, and handling a dozen other tasks that were deferred during the boom years.
We haven't forgotten the source of our successes, either. We recently mailed out over $4,500 in referral fees to express our gratitude to those who introduced us to candidates we succeeded in placing last year. And we're well along in our plans to host the fourth annual Synergistech "Thank You" party for our recently placed candidates.
Synergistech will be here when the smoke clears, and we sincerely hope you will be too. In the meantime, we're focusing even more completely on our mission--to be the Bay Area's best and most-respected recruiter of high-tech technical communicators.
Good luck to us all!
Synergistech Communications, Inc. focuses on recruiting and career coaching services for technical communicators. To submit your resume to Andrew, Cliff, Jackie, Monica, or Zeff, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Web site at http://www.synergistech.com.