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The Invisible Job Market
-Curtis Kiser for the Atlanta Business Chronicle 9/14/2012

The question that I am most commonly asked by managers and candidates always seems to be in regards to the current market conditions. Most are surprised to hear my response. The current job market is very robust right now and we have more quality jobs than candidates to fill them. No doubt this response is so surprising because nearly 70 percent of the professional job market is “hidden.” Meaning neither the current career opportunities nor the perfect candidate is open and visible to those seeking opportunities or talent. These positions are being filled by recruiters via their direct relationships either with hiring managers or with qualified candidates. A good recruiter can help both the candidate and hiring manager fine-tune their search, make best use of their skills and opportunities, and give them insight into this hidden market. We are consistently working with candidates that are not actively looking for new opportunities but are selectively open to the right set of circumstances. In that same way, many hiring managers are open to potential talent even though they have not started a formal search. Quality recruiters build solid relationships over time and really understand culture and requirements on both ends of the hiring process. With the initial downturn in the economy, the only positions that clients were hiring seemed to be in mission-critical roles and many professionals had to take on additional functions as companies got leaner and prepared themselves for the uncertainty of the future. Since then, we have seen a significant shift into more forward-thinking roles, such as strategy, marketing, development and finance.

When the market bottomed in 2008, companies could compile a wish list if they had a position to fill. They would require certifications, industry experience, and more years of experience than necessary, and they could get it. Today, the marketplace is much more competitive. Most good candidates have multiple offers to choose from and counteroffers are increasingly more frequent. The unemployment rate for top professional candidates remains extremely low. In some positions, it is less than 1 percent. The job of the recruiter today is both challenging and extremely rewarding.

In this economy, there are many industry sectors that are hurting and those are getting coverage in the news. However, there is a strong current of activity that exists among companies that are continuing to expand and seek top talent for critical roles and that battle for talent is increasingly more competitive.

Professional and Executive Recruiting firms are the gateway of entry into that hidden market and will continue to be successful by focusing on the value they directly offer to both sides of the talent acquisition process.

Curtis Kiser
Managing Partner
firstPRO, Inc.

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