Our Best Guess Re: What the BUILD BACK Period Will Look Like for Northwest Employers and Job Seekers!

Our Best Guess Re: What the BUILD BACK Period Will Look Like for Northwest Employers and Job Seekers!

by Sara Bennett | May 8, 2020

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, LOCAL NEWS, EMPLOYMENT AND STAFFING TRENDS get connected, main whats happening


The Local Job Scene Will Likely Not Be the SNAP BACK We Might Want……but BUILD BACK WE WILL!

As  Washington lays out its plans to pull back from the shelter at home mandates, businesses are starting to plan ahead for the BUILD BACK.  While some business owners optimistically refer to this period as a SNAP BACK, the majority of local businesses we are talking to describe the post covid period as a period ofBUILD BACK – lasting a good six months or more.  They also describe the return to “normalcy” a journey with a lot of uncertainties – series of twists and turns that will have a direct impact on the local job market.

Some employers (actually many we’ve talked to) have spent their shelter in period as an opportunity to re think how they do business.  Things about how they did business just 2 short months ago have had to be put aside, sometimes revealing opportunities for improvement that wouldn’t have even bee considered in early January.   A simple example was the rather abrupt move to a work from home model that catapulted employers into virtual work environments.  Companies now had whole teams of employees working together via video conferencing.  Virtual work arrangements and the use of new software tools that support a team’s ability to communicate and collaborate in a virtual work environment have now become business staples and we suspect will last well into the Build Back.

From a staffing and workforce strategy perspective there are a few things we want our readers to know about what we see happening in the local job market and what we think will drive some changes in that job market over the next 6-12 months.

You don’t need us to tell you that the Northwest candidate market has already changed. 

In one 6 week time span, we have leap frogged from a marketplace where our recruiters had to look under every rock to find a hireable candidate for our clients,  to a marketplace where they are now sifting thru 100’s of candidate resumes to find the “few” who are truely qualified to do the job our client’s need done.  Our inboxes are filled with candidate wannabes who are quick to hit “submit” even though they don’t have the background or skills required for the job.

Don’t get us wrong, recruiting will continue to be a high value function for most companies, but the recruiting/ hiring process will look very different, using a very different mix of recruiting, screening and candidate assessment skills.

Flexible  (anything but permanent committments to full time employees) staffing solutions will be more important than ever. 

With business anything but predictable employees will look for ways to “hedge their bets” – temporary, contract and parttime staffing will once again become preferred staffing models,  allowing employers to contain their fixed costs without having to say no to any business opportunity.    In every recession in my business lifetime,  flexible staffing strategies, hiring temporary rather than permanent employees, parttime rather than fulltime, have been the strategy du jour for employers who are facing an uncertain future.  This BUILD BACK is likley not going to be an exception.

To compete for business during the BUILD BACK period, Northwest businesses are going to need a new breed of high quality talent!   

The post covid BUILD BACK is going to represent a very competitive time for Northwest businesses some of whom will be in shock to see just how competitive their marketplace can be.  From a staffing perspective, employers need to be on the alert that  the staff who got you by in an environment where the high tide was lifting all boats.  may not be the same staff who will lead the way when being average is not good enough.  Whether an employer turns to temporary staff or chooses to hire directly, they will need the best talent they can find just to get in the game.

And keep in mind that in some cases the employees who performed well prior to the covid crisis, will not be employees who will do well during the BUILD BACK.  This will be a time to test Darwin’s theory – its not the strongest or smartest who will survive, its the one most responsive to change.

For many companies the BUILD BACK  is going to result in a lot of staffing changes.  Turnover, both the unwanted and wanted variety, will continue to be an issue as it was pre covid, but this driven by completely different set of factors. 

With the federal government putting an extra $600/week in an employee’s unemployment payment until the end of July, employees you have laid off may decide to stay on unemployment benefits longer than you would like.  Some employees may have had a wake up call about what’s important to them and will be moving back to places closer to their families.  Some will simply decide that what they are currently doing is not what they want to do long term.  They have had time to think and over the next six months employers are likely to see changes in who they can count on during the BUILD BACK. .

When its time to hire, employers will be looking for employees with a slightly different set of soft skills than they did pre covid.     

For example, not all employees can work from home on a sustained basis and still meet their business targets or find ways to get their job satisfiers met.   And while employers will want more from less, they need to keep in mind that not all employees are  able to produce quality work while wearing multiple hats.  Nor are all employees mentally and emotionally able to navigate an environment where there are a lot of unknowns.

Job Seekers pay attention .  The demand for a different set of soft skills will require employers to vett you carefully.  Finding that just right job will look a whole lot different tomorrow than it did yesterday.

Finding the “right” candidate for a specific job will create new hiring challenges, and unfortunately more hiring mistakes.  

Even though the supply of candidates on the market have quadrupled , employers without the right recruiting technologies and vetting resources, are likely to end up wasting a lot of time with employees who just aren’t the right fit, or making hiring decisions based on criteria that are no longer relevant to on the job success.  All of these scenarios create opportunities for hiring mistakes.

If you’re a small to medium sized local company, you’ll be hiring less but each hire will be more important.  Your hiring process and how you vet candidates to be the “right fit” can’t be shortcutted .

REMINDER – The underlying talent shortages have not gone away.    

 Even with more people on the market, the skill and experience gaps in the available workforce are still there. Boomers are still going to be leaving the marketplace in large numbers, and tweener and millennial employees aren’t always prepared to fill in the gaps.  While a recruiter’s inbox might be filled with resumes, but many of those resumes will be from candidates who just aren’t the right fit.   The posting said “submit”…so they did.

Identifying the talented few amongst a larger group of candidate possibilities is going to require a different type of recruiting expertise…in some ways more effort, better tools.

Businesses everywhere will be looking for ways to shave the fixed costs devoted to recruiting .  If you’re a recruiter, and your company’s hiring plans are uncertain, it may be time to dust off your resume! 

All recruiting resources, whether in house or contract recruiters are expensive as are the fees employers are used to paying to third party recruiting agencies (ranging anywhere from 15-30% of an employee’s annual salary). Pre covid the average costs for each hire were just under $4K.  Employers are going to have to find a lower cost way to recruit and hire which means their appetitite to keep investing in fixed in house resources are bound to wane until hiring needs are clarified.  The luxury companies might have had 3 months ago to invest in an house recruiter or recruiting team, will likely go away, leaving companies with the challenge of hiring right when there are fewer in house resources to make that happen.

We don’t know about our competitors, but the PACE team is busy coming up for ways to help both our employer and job seeker clients navigate these very changed dynamics in a very changed job market.   We’ve been doing our own re thinking about where we can make a difference during the BUILD BACK and have already started to introduce products and programs designed to help our clients not only BUILD BACK BETTER but to change the landscape of what can be available thru third party recruiting agency services.     Check out our new R3 service model that allows employers to purchase high value recruiting services by the hour, avoiding costly agency fees. 

We know there’s lots to do.  We’re up for the challenge.



PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.

How useful was this blog post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We’d Love Your Comments on this Blog…

In today’s market, its never too early to get started on your next staffing challenge…..

Connect Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post Next Post