The Lowdown on Today’s Hiring Slowdown

The current lull in hiring was predictable. What's less predictable is when hiring will pick back up.

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Apr 25, 2023

A multitude of organizations — from David’s Bridal (9000 positions) to McDonald’s (less than 1,000) to Amazon (27,000) — have been laying people off this year. As such, it’s not surprising that hiring is slowing, as well.

Meanwhile, non-farm payroll increased by 236,000 in March, which may seem like a lot, but there were 472,000 and 326,000 new jobs in January and February, respectively. Point is, hiring fluctuates and is right back in line with how it looked in March 2019, when roughly 228,000 new jobs were added.

So whereas there were huge hiring spikes as pandemic freezes lifted and  people began getting back to work, things are now leveling off.

Still, while overall hiring has slowed, it’s not a universal slowdown. Farm work (not counted in the number above) naturally increases in the spring. Additionally, geographical differences abound, with job markets declining in San Francisco and increasing in Miami. Industry matters, too.Hospitality, healthcare, and childcare are filled with vacancies and need employees.

What does this mean for recruiters?

“A pattern has emerged,” says Jack Kelly, CEO of WeCruitr. “Recruiters and HR professionals are let go when companies lay off personnel and enact hiring freezes. If there isn’t hiring, there is no need for this function.” He also identifies DEI staff as part of groups seen by some orgs as unnecessary and therefore prone to cuts.

We saw the opposite problem emerge in the 2021 hiring pushes, whereby employers couldn’t get enough recruiters onboard. And now they are laying them off at a higher rate than other professions.

An ominous sign for HR in general and recruiters specifically is the layoff at LinkedIn. The company laid off 10,000 workers, including many of its recruiters. Nathalie Robin, formerly a senior technical recruiter at LinkedIn, reported that she was one of the unlucky and notified her network that she was available and looking and has expertise in technical recruiting.

However, none of this means that no tech jobs are available and no recruiters are needed in this field. In November 2022, global tech hiring was at its third-highest rate in 15 years. One might think that with recent layoffs, that number would completely plummet, but it’s not true across the board.

Tech hiring in the financial sector, for instance, remains quite strong. Tim Herbert, chief research officer at CompTIA, an IT industry group, told Fortune, “Taking a longer-term view, all signs point to a continuation of strong demand by financial services firms for software development, data science and analytics, cybersecurity, cloud infrastructure, and A.I. skills. The data suggests any lull in hiring is likely to be relatively short-lived.”

A lull in hiring could mean that layoffs of technical recruiters will also be relatively short-lived and that recruiters can expect the jobs to come back rather rapidly.

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