The Job Market Is a Big Game of Musical Chairs

Robust economic growth and job creation is a wonderful thing, but 2010 is not very likely to look that way.   Yet I still firmly believe (and wrote in our job seeker blog) that 2010 looks good for job seekers in the Washington DC metropolitan area and probably in lots of other areas.  Why?

Churn.  Turnover.  The 2010 job market (for skilled professionals) is going to be one big, global game of musical chairs.

Let’s play it out:  One person (call him Adam) gets fed up and quits, or retires.  The second person (call him Bob), sees Adam’s job and says to himself “Hmmm, that sounds better than my terrible job” so he quits his job and takes Adam’s.  The third person (let’s call her Carol) says “Wow, that open job Bob used to hold (that made Bob miserable) is actually a big step up for me and I’d be happy to have it.”  And so on, Dave takes Carol’s job, Erin takes Dave’s job, Fred grabs Erin’s old job and so on.  Play this out and millions of people quit their current job to accept a new (to them anyway) position … but in reality no net new jobs were created.

This is a fantastic time for employers to trade up from lazy, disgruntled Adam to hard-working Bob, or from hard-working but dim-witted Bob, to witty and intelligent Carol, or from high-maintenance Carol to steady competent Dave.  In fact the resignation of every average (or misfit) employee is a gift to employers.   Over a year ago, I wrote about what a golden opportunity a recession provides employers.  You can trade in disgruntled mediocre performers and hire top performers.   Few employers took advantage of that opportunity in 2009, but with the turnover in 2010, everybody has a fresh, new opportunity to make trades.  The key to success, of course, is to use a better hiring process than the one you used when you hired average people in the first place.

Full disclosure here:  Churn is also a gift to executive search firms like ours, who are starting to see business increase, despite a lack of overall job creation.  In my more jaded moments, I acknowledge the harsh reality that search firms earn most of their fees from churn – to make a decent living in the search business we don’t need net new jobs created, we just everyone to change jobs.   (NOTE: I am, EMPHATICALLY, NOT talking about the people WE placed into jobs – we really want them to be happy and we NEVER recruit them away from where we placed them.  In fact we obsess over our long term retention rates).   We are also NOT talking about retention rates at our current clients, all through 2009 we were warning our clients about the looming turnover crisis and sharing information about how to retain their top performers.  In fact, we devoted half of our November newsletter to that very topic.

But … if you are not yet a client of ours  … we’d be delighted to show you a better hiring process, and help you trade-up when your average people quit … even though we’re kind of busy with all these new searches right now.

2 Responses to The Job Market Is a Big Game of Musical Chairs

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Corlett, Karen Siwak. Karen Siwak said: 2010 job market (for skilled professionals) is going to be one big, global game of musical chairs @StaffingAdvisor […]

  2. […] get that job.  Is that what this session is about?  How to beat out the person next to you in this professional game of musical chairs?  Would it not be more useful to have a session on how to show decision-makers ways to reduce […]

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