Anyone recruiting in today’s job market knows it unlike anything experienced before. Record low unemployment rates has equated to a near zero candidate pool to source from. Options are limited, leaving those ensconced in permanent employment to be courted and wooed.
The change in power is evident and candidates know it. It is a candidate revolution of sorts. The great resignation spoke of the changing attitude and expectations of the workforce and now it is here.
As a managing director of a recruitment agency and a keen observer of the collective, I witness many trending traits. Some are inspiring and others not so great.
The new persona in the employment landscape is ‘the taker’. Higher perspective, holistic, motivational, grounded social media feeds orate the warning signs. Today’s taker has a distinctive signature. They tilt reciprocity in their favour, putting their own interests ahead of others, extracting without gratitude or reciprocation. It is not a crime, and it’s not decadent, but it is a behaviour we are not enamoured by.
Our current job market amplifies the taker guise. The supply is bountiful, and jobseekers bathe and luxuriate in the ample bosom of choice. The gluttony and cursory sampling of what is on offer, ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’ or ‘can I be bothered’, is too tempting for the frivolous candidate. The disregard and cry of ‘let them eat cake’ almost purrs from their mouth. It is an uprising stronger than any hiring manager anticipated.
If you thought failing to return phone calls, emails and texts were poor form, that was the entrée, the tempting taster of more to come. Open your appetite and palate to behaviours such as a no-show to an interview and accepting and signing contracts, only to renege the day before starting. Or commencing a new job and resigning within weeks as a ‘better’ offer came through and not turning up on the first day of a new job. Ghosting, gaslighting, and the like are complimentary extras to make the whole experience truly unforgettable.
No business is spared. It occurs at all levels, senior appointments, executive positions, and even c suite as seen in the media. We might be more forgiving if the conduct was contained to the youth, ‘they know no better’, but when it seeps into all parts of the workforce, who ‘know better’, we sense the movement is snowballing and in danger of becoming ingrained in us all. It is not just the job market that has brought about this behaviour.
There is more to it than that.
Our own contribution
Before the war for talent, when candidates were aplenty and jobs scarce, what were the attitudes of hiring managers? I think we were the takers. Accepting 1,000’s of resumes, conducting a multitude of interviews, taking months to run a recruitment process, and for the most part, without a scant thank you, follow-up, let alone feedback nor concern for the fragile psyche of the jobseeker.
The changing attitude
With increased reliance on technology, our social skills are slowly eroding. How can we recognise the impact on others when messaging via an app, text, email etc., and expressing emotions with an emoji? Good job, and it is a thumbs up and thank you is a clasped hand. We no longer read the real signs and signals. So, it’s any wonder the taker doesn’t second guess their entitlement. Not for a moment do they believe they are rude or acting in a socially unacceptable manner. They are waiting for the thumbs up and probably wondering why you are not doing the same.
The pandemic pushed us into the perfect place, breaking all known rules, norms, habits, beliefs, and expectations. At first, it felt like we were in it together, but the isolation and inherent fears conditioned us to rely upon ourselves. Individualism and self-centredness were reaffirmed. Hoarding of toilet paper, masks and sanitisers were the first signs of takers in our midst.
Remote work arrived with no choice, and we questioned our existence and the fragility of life. The story seemed to be ‘go find your purpose’. And so, we did. Thinking of the here and now, we saw the surge of job-hopping, resigning, boomeranging, changing careers and chasing flexibility, authenticity, and money. Seeking self–preservation, we asserted our own needs.
We are all takers. It depends upon from which prism you choose to view from. The social and economic upheavals following the pandemic taught us to tolerate uncertainty better and embrace change. It also tests the fundamental human relationships, where giving and taking is a sacred dynamic. I am confident we will find a path and equilibrium. I am also sure it is not too far away.
Or instead, consider freely giving without expecting reciprocation. If only.