Are Jobs Scarce Or Abundant?

Nov 17 2010 in Employment Economy, Featured, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

job search information, job search advice, job search help, job search tips, career advice
Do you view the job market as scarce – that there are few jobs available? Or do you view it as abundant – that there are many jobs?

This is more than your personal world view as an optimist or pessimist and it’s more than positive visualization. The view of scarcity or abundance is a critical decision to make in how you handle your job search.

How you look at the job market affects how you behave as a candidate and how you view each opportunity in your pipeline.

So, is the current job market Scarce or Abundant?

This is an interesting question today, because there are two answers, depending on how you view what’s happening today.

The case for job scarcity: If you look at unemployment numbers, small business lending and the real estate market – jobs look scarce. Unemployment numbers have barely dropped since the beginning of the year. Banks still aren’t lending to small businesses, the historical engine of employment growth. The real estate market is still in the dumper, housing starts are at depression-era levels and an increasing percentage of homeowners face foreclosure – this continues to hold off employment in the real estate industry, the construction industry, the mortgage industry, the home improvement industry and the durable goods industry.

The case for job abundance: However, when you look at the stock market, bank & auto bailout repayments, the hiring war in Silicon Valley (Google’s pay increases and bonuses), the health care market and the actual number of advertised jobs – jobs are starting to look abundant again. The stock market is back to pre-recession levels, with the Dow over 11,000 and strong corporate profits. Many of the major banks have repaid their bailout money and bank TARP repayments have been greater than outstanding bank bailouts still outstanding since June (LA Times, 6/12/10). GM’s IPO today repaid a good chunk of the auto manufacturer’s bailout.

Google and Facebook have started a hiring war in Silicon Valley, with Google instituting 10% across the board pay raises and massive retention bonuses. The health care market continues to face worker shortages, causing under staffing of clinical positions that won’t slow anytime soon. Finally, job boards report employment ad volume at pre-recession levels.

How does scarcity or abundance affect candidate behavior?

Candidates who view jobs as abundant tend to distribute their efforts a little more widely, because they see that there are a lot of jobs out there. The smart ones still retain the focus of their job search on jobs where they are clearly superior to other candidates, rather than waste their time applying to any job they find that “they can do”, including positions that are a stretch.

Abundance candidates tend to:

  • Work with many recruiters – There’s no single recruiter that represents all, or even most of the jobs out there. Abundance candidates realize this and work with many recruiters … in a sense putting more fishing lines out there.
  • Have a larger opportunity pipeline – Abundance candidates aren’t so focused on each opportunity as if it were their only chance of getting a job. Instead, they are able to research more companies and find more opportunities.
  • They tend to have a longer job search timeline – While they realize there are many jobs out there, they want to find the right job, with the right long term outlook, in the right industry, working for the right manager. Their expect their job search to take longer, because they’re prepared to be very choosy about which job they take.
  • They aren’t too heartbroken if they don’t land a specific job – Abundance candidates are too busy researching, meeting new people, and contacting people in their network to spend time crying over a lost job. Because these candidates see jobs as plentiful, their attention moves quickly to the next opportunity.
  • They view their job search time as a valuable resource – Because they see abundant jobs, these candidates recognize that the fastest way to their next job is to quickly recognize which opportunities have potential, dropping those with lower odds.

On the other hand, candidates who view jobs as scarce tend to “put all their eggs in one basket”, counting on each opportunity. At the same time scarcity candidates tend to be less focused in their search. I see many candidates with a view of scarcity and they act differently than those who view jobs as abundant.

Scarcity candidates tend to do the following:

  • Count on most pipeline opportunities as being likely or even probable – Since they consider jobs to be scarce, they are thankful to have any interviews. These candidates depend on the jobs in their pipeline as being critical to gaining their next position. They tend to over-concentrate on each opportunity already in their pipeline, rather than constantly finding new pipeline opportunities. I hear it when candidates tell me that they have an interview in a week or two, so they are satisfied with their job progress – they feel that any interviews are progress, since they view the market as scarce.
  • Lack focus in their search – Scarcity candidates are less focused in their job search, and spend a significant portion of their time applying to jobs they are unlikely to get. Scarcity candidates believe there are so few jobs out there, that they apply for “stretch” positions, where they don’t meet all of the requirements or they aren’t a superior candidate compared to others. They apply to jobs they “could do” rather than just the jobs they “can do better than anyone else.” Even before the recession, jobs posted online were getting hundreds, if not thousands of applicants, because it’s so easy to apply.
  • Panic when an employer doesn’t call back when promised – These same candidates are the ones who ask me what it means if the employer hasn’t called back in a week, or ask if they should keep calling an employer who hasn’t gotten back to them
  • Spend a great deal of time seeking feedback – These are the candidates who call everyone they interviewed with to discover why they didn’t get the job. They also get upset when HR reps and employers don’t return calls when asked for feedback.
  • Call their recruiter every week to “check in” – These candidates feel that if they don’t consistently stay in touch with a recruiter, they might be passed over the the one “perfect” opportunity.

Readers – Do you recognize any of these behaviors in your own search? Which are you – a scarcity candidate or an abundance candidate?


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