My Takeaway From October’s Jobs Report: Don’t Waste Time!

Takeaway From October’s 2014 Jobs Report

I always look forward to the first week of every month. I’m not only anticipating the weeks ahead but also reflecting on the results of the past month. The monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is quite revealing. And I often get questions about what the data mean. Here’s my take:

The October jobs report from BLS was solid. Employers added 214,000 jobs last month. Although this was slightly below what analysts had expected, it marks the ninth straight month jobs growth has exceeded 200,000. That’s the longest such streak since 1994. The BLS also revised upward the figures for August and September, noting that 31,000 more jobs were created in those months than initially reported. The unemployment rate edged down to 5.8 percent, a six-year low.

The unemployment rate for college-educated professionals 25 years and older is much lower than the national rate (just 3.1 percent). The unemployment rate is also much lower for many positions in the accounting and finance, technology, and creative professions, among others.

So what can we take away from today’s jobs report? The big message is that the market continues to be rock-solid for the best talent. A Robert Half staffing professional on the East Coast sums it up: “We lined up four interviews for one of our candidates over the course of two days. By the time the interviews were finished, all four companies had come back with offers.”

My advice for hiring managers: Keep an eye on the clock and calendar, and don’t waste time! There are only five full weeks until the end of year. Many firms are scrambling to hire before December 31 to avoid losing budget dollars and headcount. Speed and turnaround are critical for every hiring and management decision.

If you are a hiring manager, here are three things you can do now to make the most of your time:

1. Take care of current staff first

Before you focus on your end-of-year hiring, finalize your plan for raises and bonuses. Some firms offer them in January, others in December. Regardless of when you do it, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. The latest jobs report shows that your best people have too many choices in today’s market — other companies are willing to offer top dollar for in-demand professionals. You will lose your talent if you don’t pay them well, and you will spend lots of time and resources trying to find replacements. Get the approvals you need now on raises and bonuses so you can reward your staff appropriately, and you’re not rushing at the last minute.

2. Make your hiring plan

As soon as you decide to open a search, figure out who will be involved in the hiring process, when you want someone in the seat and how you will entice the candidate to accept your offer over others they may receive. Arrange for candidates to meet all of the necessary decision makers at one time if possible. Use Skype, FaceTime and conference calls if not everyone can be in the same place at once. Also be flexible with the interview times. Early morning and evening interviews attract working job seekers and the most in-demand candidates.

3. Be ready to make a decision

Too many hiring managers are losing candidates because they are overthinking the process or waiting for the “perfect” candidate to come along. Focus on hiring people who have a strong work ethic, fit the most important requirements of the role and are eager to learn. Delaying your decision can mean settling for the second-best candidate, restarting the process from scratch or, worst of all, making a bad hire. One word of caution: Don’t skip any part of the hiring process — including additional interviews, reference checks or background checks, if necessary — just to move swiftly.

What did you take away from the latest jobs report, and how are your hiring efforts changing as a result? Let me know in the comments below.


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