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The 2016 Job Market Is Looking Bright For Workers

December 16, 2015, 3:07 PM UTC
Photograph by Spencer Platt

“The pace of change today is so great that we can’t reliably predict what the workplace will look like” beyond the next 12 months, says Michael Bergen, managing partner at executive recruiting firm Allegis Partners. Most managers he knows are struggling to deal with “a world that shifts the second they think they have a plan.”

Consider, for instance, the entry-level workforce. Just when you were getting a handle on how to appeal to Millennials, their younger brothers and sisters (born since 1994) are set to start graduating in droves next spring. By 2019, this group will make up about 20% of the workforce — more if the current pace of Boomer retirements increases. That means tweaking your recruiting strategies yet again.

“There are key differences between Millennials and Gen Z that companies simply can’t afford to overlook,” says Amy Glaser, a senior vice president of Adecco Staffing USA.

Though it hardly seems possible, Gen Z is even more reliant on social media than Millennials. “Hire a social media manager who can tie trending online themes or trends, like pop culture memes, to recruitment,” advises Glaser. If you haven’t already enlisted your youngest and most enthusiastic employees to be “social media ambassadors,” talking up your company online, it’s time to start.

Be prepared to be flexible on pay, a preoccupation with Gen Z “because they’ve seen Millennials struggle to find work and pay student debt,” Glaser adds. If there’s no wiggle room on salaries, she suggests, emphasize “non-traditional benefits. Does your company offer academic reimbursement or the chance to travel abroad? How about flextime or unlimited vacation days? Gen Zers care about these perks, so make them very clear up front.”


2016 will also be the Year of Transparency, predicts Ana Recio, head of global recruiting at CRM powerhouse Salesforce, which is hiring about 6,000 people a year to fuel its 30% annual growth. Social media sites like Glassdoor and Vault will be even bigger game-changers next year than they already are, she believes. “No longer can employers put on a smiley recruiting face and leave it at that, because employees are talking online about what it’s really like to work there,” Recio notes. “So the importance of building a great culture is only going to increase.”

That’s why an Allegis Partners survey found that more employers in 2016 plan to hire senior managers whose sole focus will be making work meaningful (and even, if possible, fun). Their titles: Director of Culture and Engagement, Vice President of Employee Engagement, and Minister of Culture.

Hoping to snag top IT talent in 2016? Best of luck. You’ll be competing against a record 78% of hiring managers who plan to do the same, according to the latest survey. About 70% told Dice’s pollsters they hope to bolster their tech staff by 11% or more in the first six months of the new year. To do that, more than half (53%) say they’re offering juicier perks like free lunches and gym memberships, and almost as many (48%) are stepping up sweeteners like sign-on bonuses and relocation packages.

They’re also reaching deeper into the tiny talent pool for less seasoned candidates. More than a quarter (27%) of hiring managers told Dice they’re planning to scoop up entry-level applicants, up nine points from 2015, and 62% said they’ll consider tech staffers with two to five years of experience, an eight-point rise.

In every field, not just IT, almost all (91%) employers are trying to “improve the candidate experience,” according to a survey by recruiting-software maker iCIMS. That includes streamlining job applications to make them shorter and simpler, the report notes, since 68% of job seekers who abandon an application do so “because the process was too long or required too much information.”

If all this sounds like 2016 will be a great time to be on the hunt for a new job — even if you’re not a techie — that’s because the long “jobless recovery” has finally breathed its last breath. “The days of begging for a job are gone,” says Ana Recio at Salesforce. “It’s a candidate’s market. We send them ‘thank you’ notes after interviews now.”