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How Employers Behave When There Are More Workers Than Jobs

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

When there are many more workers than job openings, employers behave differently than they do in a healthy employment market. This is largely because the locus of control shifts from candidates to employers, and employers will have the sense that they can “call the shots.” These dynamics can pose serious challenges for job seekers. Under these circumstances, here are some of the typical challenges job seekers will face at many companies:

  • Employers will generally cut back on spending, contract in size, and squeeze efficiencies out of existing facilities and resources.
  • Employers will cut salaries and benefits of whatever job openings they still have, with the belief that they will be able to attract quality candidates for a lot less investment.
  • Employers will take longer to make hiring decisions, with the belief that they can afford to be much more selective.
  • Employers will expect candidates to provide greater value by offering more experience, skills, and accomplishments.
  • Employers will want candidates to produce stronger business results with less resources and staff, but to work at the same or even lower-level titles than they did before.
  • Employers will tend to curtail promotions, raises, bonuses, and perks, taking the position that “our employees are lucky just to have jobs here.”
  • Employers will fill the few positions that do open-up internally, because this is much less expensive than recruiting and hiring candidates from the outside.
  • Employers will expect their staff to be more flexible and to make greater sacrifices to keep their jobs, including more relocations, heavier workloads, and greater travel demands.
  • Employers will re-deploy talent by transferring employees from one division or department to another, where they can have the most impact.
  • Employers will put greater emphasis on recruiting passive candidates (those who already have jobs) as opposed to considering unemployed candidates.
  • Employers will reduce their investments in search firms and recruiting technologies, expecting that the best candidates will come to them.
  • Employers will tend to focus exclusively on survival and shareholder value, and will stop paying attention to employee morale and staff retention.
  • Employers will fill job openings only with candidates whose background and experience precisely match those required by the position.

Of course, there is nothing you can do to control employers’ behavior. But you CAN control your own. Even in a down market, job seekers and employees are NOT powerless or without recourse in dealing with the challenges listed above. In fact, you always have more control over your career circumstances than you might think.

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles have appeared in thousands of publications and web sites, and he has been interviewed on every major television and radio network. Ford has also conducted presentations at hundreds of companies, associations and universities. Learn more at

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