The State of the Hiring Market — and What It Means for You

“Salaries, perks, benefits, severance…are all down”

This according to the head of the Executive Compensation practice at a leading NY media business law firm. Compounding the pain, he shared a graph showing that employment in what the US Government calls the information industry rose dramatically from 1990 to 2000 and then fell all the way back by 2011. Not an attractivepicture.

“But,” he says, “it looks as if 2013 is starting up from 2012.” So things are getting slightly better than awful.

This is very much a buyers’ market for talent – but be aware that when you do eventually get to discuss an offer, it means that they really want you. The employer will have been through all sorts of hoops and to come to a decision and now they will want to get it over with. The New York Times reports for example that the average Google interview process, always..ahem..thorough, has expanded in the last two years, to 30 days from 21.

Digital businesses are often looking for thought leaders. “I can’t interview fossils.” “Creatives have to live in the now, they can’t live in the past.” “I am looking for people who can enlighten our clients and these people are hard to find.”

So blog about your field and what is going on and where you see it headed. When hirers look online to check out prospects, you’d better be there with an effective and relevant digital presence – don’t be one of the “disappeared.”

As to that old “middle manager” level: be aware that in this economy you are expected to go back and utilize your core skills yourself, no-one is likely to hire you to just be a manager, however good you are.

And then there is the elusive Purple Squirrel. This is the candidate that all employers are dreaming of: the next to impossible find who has, according to Wikipedia: “precisely the right education, experience, and qualifications that perfectly fits a job’s multifaceted requirement. In theory, this prized “purple squirrel” could immediately handle all the expansive variety of responsibilities of a job description with no training and would allow businesses to function with fewer workers.”

It is the lure of the Purple Squirrel that makes hirers take so long. When you are going back for the fifth interview – know that they have been picturing this rarest of creatures – and it is your job to convince them that you are as purple as they are going to find!