Project Management Market Tipping Point

For some time now the messages around the economy have all been of a positive nature, all the signs seem to be pointing towards recovery, it is a slow recovery but a recovery nonetheless. This is without doubt the impression we are getting from the media, however in my recent experience it would seem that we are still a little way from that media confidence fully translating to the jobs market.

There has been a perception that the market is very much a “buyer’s market”, with salaries and day-rates on offer from organisations remaining low. Some companies have been “hedging their bets”  by looking to fill a short-term need with a  fixed-term contract rather than a day-rate. Again, maintaining they have the luxury of waiting for the “perfect candidate” too. A number of organisations were successful in this however recent experiences would indicate that there is a shift in that balance and good quality candidates may find they have a choice of roles. Are candidates starting to gain the upper hand?

The outlook for 2014 is that there is likely to be a sizeable increase in the number of available roles, with some forecasts suggesting a near 30% increase but without any immediate increase in the number of available candidates. Should these forecasts prove accurate, and early indications suggest that they are, it is obviously going to impact the jobs market and organisations are going to have to re-visit their recruitment strategies if they want to avoid being left out in the cold.

Here are just a few first hand experiences – let’s call them tales from the project management recruitment marketplace.

The first potential impact for organisations started to manifest itself towards the end of 2013. Good candidates are finding that when they venture into the market place they are in demand, and are even starting to attract multiple offers and have a choice of opportunities and/or negotiate their package – something we saw a lack of over the last few years.  If the forecasts are right then this scenario is likely to become more commonplace, certainly in the short-term whilst the in-balance between candidates and opportunities prevails.

This inbalance may have multiple effects on employers and how they approach any requirements they may have.

Firstly – rethinking their views on what constitutes a “competitive salary” as the days of being able to cherry-pick the best talent on a reduced budget are likely to very limited. Isn’t it time that organisations were able to confidently indicate a salary range in line with their project management capability?

Secondly employers who procrastinate in their search for the “perfect candidate” – this kind of delay is only likely to result in losing the candidate to another offer, which will bring the associated delays and cost to the business of having to re-start the whole process.

Finally, and this will be a real indicator of change – we may start to see a loosening of some of the exceptionally tight requirements that we have worked to over the last few years and, in the short to medium term there will be employers will be a little less prescriptive about a candidate’s background / skills / experience and more open to considering candidates with transferable skills.

Incidentally, all three of these are areas are not a problem for organisations that run a tight talent management ship – another blog for another day 🙂

The final piece to the jigsaw of course would be an increase in the number, and quality of available candidates once confidence has been fully restored!

This is all conjecture of course, but early indications are that there is an increase in the number of available vacancies, we saw that in the last quarter of 2013 and it has continued into 2014. So it will be interesting to see what, if anything changes and maybe more pertinently how quickly those changes happen!

All in all it makes for another interesting, and challenging (maybe in slightly different ways) year ahead but one that is likely to be full of opportunities!

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