Ask the Recruiter: Recession, Lay-Offs, and Dealing With a Changing Market

by Susan Mullin

TorchLight Account Director Amy Tsuchitani shares her advice for employees and job seekers on how to prepare for a potential recession and other interesting insights. 

We recently sat down with our Account Director Amy to talk about how the slowing job market and recession talks are impacting hiring. Also, Amy explains shifting employer expectations around remote vs. in-office work.

The job market is clearly cooling off as fewer employers are hiring, and some companies are laying off workers. What are you seeing in terms of the impact of the slower job market and possible recession on recruiting and hiring? 

Amy: It’s summer and we generally find that our interview schedules slow down because people are on vacation and put hiring on the back burner. Still, there’s a palpable feeling that things aren’t moving as fast as they could even for summertime. The volume is less too. We used to have calls coming in daily, outreach from clients that we worked with in the past–you can just tell it’s slowed down more than usual. In August or early September, it should pick up a bit. 

I’m also seeing that our clients aren’t as frenzied as when the job market was really competitive. For a long time, they were so worried that they wouldn’t be able to hire someone and would do anything to hire the right person. There’s now a lack of urgency– not completely, but it has definitely gone down. There’s also been a change in the balance of power. Over the last 6 months, plenty of clients were responsive to candidate demands but now they aren’t as willing to negotiate. 

So, what are clients willing to do in order to secure a candidate in this job market? 

Amy: I still think that clients are eager to hire, especially when they find someone they really love. One thing they’ll do is condense their interview process. If they know they like someone and they see the candidate has other opportunities, then they try to streamline the process and do fewer interviews.  

I’m just not seeing the mindset or appetite to be as flexible on things like remote vs. hybrid or even salary anymore. If someone is well above the salary band, clients are not willing to go too far above their budget. This is a big change because I can name several situations in the last 6 months where our clients went well above to secure a candidate. 

Given that employers are less flexible about candidate demands, what negotiation advice to you have for job seekers? 

Amy: I’d say move away from the “all or nothing” mentality. You can’t have a big laundry list of things that you must have in order to take a job. Look and prioritize. Is remote the most important thing to you? If so, can you flex a little on salary? If you’re working fully remote, you’re not buying clothes, paying for gas, etc. 

I think you have to look at your needs and try to prioritize even if it’s picking the most important thing and going down from there. 

Is remote work a requirement for most candidates? What are the top things that candidates are asking for? 

Amy: I’ve noticed a shift this summer and it’s strange. Over the last six months, fully remote was a huge wish list item, but it’s starting to change. More experienced candidates–like directors and VPs–are chomping at the bit to get back into the office. A lot of people are ready to go back into the office at least two days a week. With early career candidates, a lot of them have never worked in an office–only at home. That’s what they know so they want to keep that setup. 

People want work-life balance across the board. They want a job that is fully remote or at least flexible, has great PTO and benefits, and that doesn’t require them to work around the clock. 

We’re hearing a lot about a potential recession in the coming months. How should professionals prepare for a recession in the event it happens? 

Amy: Definitely have your resume ready. Always have it polished up and ready to go–you never know when someone might call you. Take recruiters’ calls and build your network. See what jobs people are posting. Network daily and make sure you’re informed about what opportunities are out there and which companies are still hiring. 

Be mindful of industry trends and stay informed on what is happening in your industry. I know a candidate who works at a B2B tech company owned by a private equity firm. Their industry is cooling off, so they are worried about their growth prospects in the coming quarters. As a result, they’re laying people off.  

If you’re in a job you like at a company where you feel comfortable–and things are solid–my advice is to stay put for a little while and see what happens in the fall. When you’re in a job, you can still continue to get outreach from recruiters and can then jump on opportunities that come your way. Cool your jets while we go through this phase. 

Do you have general advice for younger professionals in this job market, many of whom have never worked in an office setting? 

Amy: Take advantage of the opportunity to go into the office to interview, especially with the hiring manager. My clients are saying, “I want to see this candidate in person.” Go in and see what the office is like. If the office is open, has perks and you get to see the vibe, it’ll give you an indication of whether this company is for you. Talk to others on the team and ask what it’s like being in the office. 

It’s a leap of faith to take a job where you are required to be in the office at least some of the time and people have grown comfortable working from home. Sadly, if candidates limit themselves to just the fully remote roles, not only will rule themselves out of potential opportunities, but in the long term, they risk not developing the relationships that they can make when working face to face. 

Anything else you’d like to add? 

Amy: Brace for going back into the office, in case it happens. Just shift your mindset a little bit and look at it from a positive perspective. Two days in the office is still extraordinarily flexible and it enables you to develop important relationships. This is especially helpful for people who have never worked in the office before. The expectation for employees to be in the office is only going to increase and you’re going to rule yourself out of a lot of opportunities if you aren’t flexible. That’s not to say there still won’t be fully remote roles out there as well. 

Read our last edition of Ask the Recruiter with TorchLight’s Heather Pederson on resume mistakes. 

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