What the Worker Talent War Really Looks Like

Why the competition for talent is not equal

While the talent war is certainly raging, employers are not fighting the same battles at all levels. Only certain candidates have power in the job market – usually experienced mid-career employees. This means that entry-level workers may still face difficulties finding a job – and this is particularly the case in certain sectors.

In many cases, labor shortages mean companies are offering flexible work arrangements to retain talent. Grace Lordan, director of the Inclusion Initiative at the London School of Economics, says this practice can further restrict opportunities for inexperienced applicants.

“If hybrid working is implemented, it makes more sense to hire someone with experience: an employee you know can simply continue their work by working from home,” adds Lordan. “Managers need more time to train entry-level workers and show them what good performance looks like. With employees often strapped for time at larger companies, it’s no surprise that we see inexperienced workers struggling in the job market.

Lordan estimates that workers with seven years of experience and above are currently the most in demand; employees who have built up career capital and who can claim higher salaries thanks to the talent war. However, she says, the average entry-level worker still faces poor pay, especially in knowledge work. “In hybrid jobs where performance is more difficult to measure, the incentive to hire someone early in their career may be weak,” she adds.

Penny Lawson, director of London-based media recruitment agency Folio Recruitment, says the hiring crisis has left her with a dearth of available candidates – giving only certain workers greater influence. “Before the pandemic, it would be very easy to pitch six candidates to a company,” Lawson says. “Now it can be difficult to find even two strong candidates for some vacancies, even for entry-level jobs. Companies usually want someone with at least something on their CV – I have a hard time find people with some experience It is the more experienced candidates who have stayed in the industry who now have more choices.

The reality is that today’s competition for talent is mostly about a certain subset of the workforce: not everyone is able to get a job where they want or ask for a raise. due to a labor shortage. And, while job vacancies are on the rise in all areas, they are unlikely to continue growing in all sectors forever. Ultimately, this means that only certain candidates, in particular sectors, hold a longer-term advantage.

The Great Reshuffle also sees some industries have a greater influx of applicants than others. For example, figures from Indeed show a 33% increase in UK jobseekers’ interest in education and teaching jobs compared to the pre-pandemic period. In the United States, the interest of job seekers in beauty and wellness professions has increased by 80%. This means career-changing candidates like Lewis can join deeper and growing talent pools. In these more competitive sectors, employees may also find their ability to move in the talent market restricted.

Thus, the war of talents is not equal. While some workers are more in demand than ever, there are many more still struggling to land a job in the first place. “I find my industry very competitive to get into,” Lewis says. “Trying to get your foot in the door can be quite tricky, even during a hiring crisis.”

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