Amid the Hiring Frenzy, Take a Long-Term View of the Job Market

Amid the recovery from the COVID recession, employers and workers have found themselves in a jobseeker’s market. Businesses are lavishing benefits, high salaries, and aggressive promotions on candidates in hopes of luring and retaining talent. For many employees, especially younger generations eyeing a big promotion at a rival firm, the situation may seem to present all upsides—a welcome contrast to 2020’s dismay.

But bouncing around in search of higher pay and loftier titles can come at a cost. Employers and job candidates alike would do well to consider the drawbacks of a hiring frenzy, as well as the benefits of sticking with a firm instead of pursuing the next big thing.

Here’s how employers and employees can navigate the job market with a holistic view of opportunities so that firms and candidates are both successful in the long term.

The Drawbacks of a Job Seeker’s Market

On its face, a jobseeker’s market can seem to present all downsides for the employer and unmitigated upsides for the jobseeker. The employer has a tougher time holding onto talent and needs to make more generous offers to fill roles, while the jobseeker can secure more pay, fancier titles, and more mobility.

But we’ve been here before, and history tells us that, over the long term, hot job markets can negatively affect jobseekers, too. Consider the burst of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. Businesses spent too much and hired inexperienced managers. When tougher economic conditions struck, mass layoffs followed, loads of employees were removed from jobs for which they were not qualified, and employers were left struggling to figure out how to run gutted businesses that had been inappropriately staffed.

For employers and employees, the main danger of a hiring craze lies in putting people in roles for which they are not qualified, possibly setting them up for near-term underperformance or failure in the event of adverse economic trends. Employers eager to fill roles should consider whether they are setting up a job candidate for long-term success. Jobseekers should look for roles in which they can grow, yes, but also ones for which they have the experience to perform and then excel, not positions they will flounder in and for which they lack core abilities.

The Benefits of Sticking with a Company

Lost in the sometimes Machiavellian evaluation of the job market as a simple question of pay and prestige are the benefits of sticking with a company, even if there’s a chance that greener pastures lie elsewhere.

This is not to suggest that employees should stay in jobs with poor working conditions or where they are truly unhappy. Rather, if employees do feel like they’re growing in their current roles and have mentors who will allow them to fulfill their potential, they should think twice about seeking work elsewhere for a quick pay bump.

Sticking with an employer can have consequences beyond the frame of salaries and signing bonuses. Putting in several years with a single company and rising through the ranks signals to future employers that you’re the kind of person who invests in teams and projects—the kind of candidate in whom they, too, would want to invest. Sticking with a job is also how employees develop deep relationships with managers, peers, and their own mentees—relationships that can make the experience of work more meaningful and pave the way for financial and professional rewards down the line.

Adopting a More Holistic View of the Job Market

When it comes to adopting a more holistic view of the job market, employers and employees alike can learn something from the youngest jobseekers, those of Gen Z, who famously view the workplace as a place to bring their full selves and to do mission-driven work, not just make a buck or secure a prestigious title.

What we’re currently witnessing in the job market is a war on talent—not literally on talented jobseekers but rather a war waged on the idea that roles should be filled with candidates who have the right talent and experience for them. Short-term thinking is fostering a bidding war that is putting people in positions for which they are ill-prepared and setting existing teams up to struggle, especially in the advent of harder times to come.

Instead of viewing job searches as a bidding war to be settled by the highest dollar amount, employers and employees alike would do well to consider whether they are finding the right talent for a role. Does the person not only have the talent and experience required to excel in the job but also have the values and attributes that will make him or her successful over the long term? As Gen Z reportedly emphasizes, do the job candidates feel the workplace embodies not only their skills but also their values? Does the employer trust that the candidates are taking the job not just for competitive pay and perks but also for their passion for the company’s mission and culture?

If employers and employees ask themselves the more holistic questions, they will set all parties up for long-term, fruitful relationships and intergenerational mentorship. If they sacrifice their sense of long-term fit to the hallucinations of a frenzied job market, they will risk trading the benefits of filling a role with the right talent for the short-term benefits of a distinguished title or unsustainable pay.

Ginger Camilleri is the Vice President of People Business Partners at Tinuiti.