State of the Market: September 2023

In our last State of the Market update, we presented the unfortunate news permeating the January headlines: downsizing.

However, September signals the turning of a new season, and what many hope will be the season the entire market turns the corner on hiring. This is our State of the Market update for September 2023.

Supply and Demand

While an increasing number of companies have begun hiring again, the number of unemployed candidates has not been absorbed enough to alter supply/demand challenges. Candidate supply remains high, so it is still an employer's market for most roles and product categories. 

However, we have seen a select few product categories, such as cybersecurity and many cloud infrastructure companies, remain unfettered in the candidate’s market and continue to generate competing offers throughout 2023. 

ATS and LinkedIn Fiascos

Emotions have been running high among job seekers, with some choosing to vent publicly about popular ATS platforms and LinkedIn. Friction-laden ATS platforms that require candidates to "create an account" for every submission or inaccurately parsing their resumes are just a few of the frustrations candidates have shared.

On LinkedIn, we’ve heard lots of discouragement from candidates when seeing postings with thousands of applicants. These crazy high application rates have become a roadblock keeping even qualified candidates from applying for an opportunity.

From an employer's perspective, the volume of applicants is hitting all-time highs, with many unable to review or screen all the inbound applicants. In a few cases, employers admit they are skeptical the hire is in the group of online applicants given the ease of applying without even reading the posting.

Education Won’t Save the Day

With so many Product Managers unemployed, the Recruiters in our Product Practice are continually asked whether a particular degree program, certification, or course might increase the likelihood of getting hired over another candidate. In most cases, the answer is no.

We do want to emphasize that if you have a genuine interest in a particular course or certification, or if you are committed to continuous learning and self-improvement, then now may be the perfect time to invest your time and resources in pursuing it.

But if the reason for taking a course is because you think you need it to get hired, that's not true. One certification course is rarely why one candidate is chosen over another for a role. If finances are tight, invest your time in applying to positions, and keeping the job funnel filled and moving towards signing a new employment offer.

New Tactics 

For anyone who has only ever been employed during a season of prosperity, the pivot to figuring out 'how to find a job' can be very difficult. Too many candidates have yet to realize that 2021 tactics will not work in 2023. There are simply fewer jobs, greater competition, and more limited budgets.

This also results in fewer companies engaging Recruiters for roles. In times of prosperity, hiring stakeholders leverage Talent Acquisition teams and recruiting firms, but in leaner times, everyone is trying to do more with less.

For some leaders, this is their first time hiring without internal or external aid. Learning to prioritize time when selecting, evaluating, and interviewing candidates from a seemingly endless pool is a skill anyone hiring needs to learn quickly.

Band Aid Tactics

In a year of “getting to profitability," many employers have chosen to take matters into their own hands and attempt to make hires independently, without enlisting the help of a recruiting firm.

This has directly impacted Founders from engaging and accessing thought leaders and, therefore, the most relevant talent from the largest community of passive candidates across all markets. Many opted to hire from whoever applied, while others decided to split up vacant positions' responsibilities among their existing staff members.

At some point, all of these short-term band-aids will start to unravel, and employers will reach a pain threshold that will motivate them to change hiring strategies. When that happens, the search industry will again have the opportunity to showcase the value it provides to Founders and CEOs

Martyn Bassett Associates has been in business for over 20 years, and we’ve seen many great peaks and some deep valleys in the tech world. The important thing we like to remind all our candidates, clients, and readers is that no economic climate is permanent. The tech industry is buzzing with many remarkable startups that are currently experiencing substantial growth and getting solid valuations. These startups are actively hiring talented individuals to join their teams and build incredible products. 

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