2013 Job Market Fast Becoming Candidate-Driven

For those of you who have branded yourselves as being—and are perceived as being—among the TOP performers in your profession, there is some GREAT news! The 2013 job market for you is fast becoming candidate-driven. That means that you now will have more and better choices: Multiple job offers, greater salary leverage and more lucrative (but often poisonous) counteroffers from your current employer.

For the last five years or so, the job market, for virtually everyone, has largely been a “buyers’ market,” with hiring companies definitely in the “driver’s seat” and calling almost all of the shots. And, significant to note, it still remains a “buyers’ market” for job seekers who appear “average.”

According to a report released January 25, 2013, by worldwide recruiting firm MRINetwork,[i] 68% of recruiters participating in the study characterized today’s job market for top-tier candidates in high-demand professions as definitely being candidate-driven, a sentiment that’s up 12 percentage points over the previous year.

“It’s a candidate-driven market for those with specialized skills and who are viewed as upwardly mobile in their career,” said one recruiter participating in the study.

Another MRINetwork recruiter states, “Candidates who can demonstrate how they have made a company money or saved a company money, or both, are definitely in very strong demand in today’s job market.”

One of the primary reasons cited in the study for these top performers to be moving back into the “driver’s seat” is that the pool of these candidates has become very shallow in recent years and continues to dwindle. As a matter of fact, another recruiter responding to the survey had this to say:

“Employers can expect a candidate-driven market (among the very top candidates) for the next ten years due to the shortage of existing accomplished talent.”

“Companies want the ‘Superstars’ today,” she added. “‘Average’ employees are not being hired (as aggressively).”

While experienced professionals at the top of their game are, almost by definition, few and far between, the study points out, some recruiters also noted a new trend emerging. Early career professionals, i.e., those with one to five years of experience, are also becoming increasingly difficult to find. The reason isn’t hard to figure out, either, the study stressed.

Since many employers have held back on filling entry level positions for the last five years, fewer people had the opportunity to start their careers during that period. As a result, the current unemployment rate for those in the 20- to 24-years-old age group is 13.7 percent— more than 3x the rate of those in the 25- to 54-years-old age group with a bachelor’s degree or higher (3.9 percent).

Here’s Something Not Seen For Awhile

Perhaps the clearest indication that the top-tier branded candidate segment of the current job market has in fact become candidate-driven is that growing numbers of these exceptional candidates are turning down job offers, sometimes multiple job offers!

Here, by order of importance, are the most prevalent reasons cited by the study that candidates are giving for turning down offers:

  • Accepted another job offer (33%)
  • Salary/benefits package lower than expected[ii] (26%)
  • Accepted counter-offer from current employer[iii] (18%)
  • Changed mind about switching jobs (13%)
  • Concerns over relocation (10%)

If you are a hiring manager looking to attract and hire top talent, in an effort to make sure you attract your fair share of the very top candidates available, consider the words of this recruiter:

“Hiring is always buying and selling for all parties,” he said. “Employers today, more than ever, when they find a strong candidate, need to equally sell them on, ‘Why us?’. Today, top candidates are being aggressively pursued by multiple parties and are finding that not only do they have multiple options but are being made strong counteroffers as well.”

If you are unemployed and looking for a job, or if you are someone whose career has “stalled” and you desire to take advantage of the opportunity to be in the “driver’s seat” for a change, start taking the steps necessary to improve your professional brand. A good place to start? By taking—and then implementing—the professional branding advice offered each and every week by the wide variety of top-tier experts who regularly blog on this site!


Be watching for Skip’s new book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets series of bestselling job-hunting books and publications, Career Stalled?How to Get Your Career Back in ‘High Gear’ and Land the Job You Deserve—Your Dream Job! TM Publication is scheduled for spring 2013.


Skip Freeman is the author of the international bestselling job hunting book “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! (http://portal.sliderocket.com/BFDSG/Find-Your-Dream-Joband is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

[i]MRINetwork is a division of CDI Corporation (NYSE: CDI) and is comprised of approximately 2,500 recruiters among 700 offices globally. Our recruiting firm, The HTW (Hire to Win) Group, is an MRINetwork office.

[ii]As a candidate, don’t get greedy. Average pay increases for a career move are 7-10% as this is being written. However, that is far better than the current average annual raise of 3-4%. Make the move because it will advance your career, not strictly because of money.

[iii]Accepting a counteroffer is seldom the right thing to do or the professionally smartest move to make. You will forever brand yourself as “disloyal” in the company’s mind. Do your homework prior to entering the job market. Can you get that raise that you desire at your current job? Can you get that promotion or those additional responsibilities? Exhaust all possibilities before you begin your new career search.