What Sherlock Holmes said in the Hound of The Baskervilles, “I presume nothing”, essentially sums up our sentiments on the hiring and talent scene for the year ahead with regards to the marketing, communications and creative industries. 2024 is a tough year to make a call on whether hiring activities will improve or if we are only at the start of a rough economic patch. We are moving into a phase where there isn’t a very clear central theme running across the talent scene. Unlike the past years where a central theme was very evident from the talent migration to tech companies to the great resignation.
We foresee 2024 to be a mash up of several narratives instead. A few terminologies and talent phenomenon have sprung up over the last year.
The great reshuffle - Where it once was the mass migration of talents to tech companies and startups, some of these talents have now switched back to agencies, brand-side and freelance positions, and increasingly, in self-employed gigs such as coaching and consulting.
The number of tech companies having to go through layoffs and restructuring doesn’t seem to be losing steam though judging by the headlines news in the last few weeks and as a result, this talent trend will likely continue to persist.
The big stay - Where more talents are hunkering down and staying in their current roles even though they might not be happy with their current role.
“There aren’t just any interesting roles out there now.”
“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” are some common perspectives with these group of talents.
Coupled with very pragmatic reasons-cost of living, mortgage and rental rates being sky high, it’s not as easy to stay jobless as compared to the height of pandemic, where a review of life’s perspectives was at its greatest.
The big gap - We have personally witnessed many talents who are now in the “in between roles” status whether by choice or by being impacted in their roles.
The numbers are growing by the day and the duration which they continue to stay unemployed continues to lengthen for an extended amount of time.
This phenomenon is not some fancy terminology cobbled up for the sake of this article but is really happening on ground. We are seeing it on a daily basis from our course of work as headhunters.
Now, what’s more crucial is with all these happening on a macro level, what are the key takeaways for hiring managers and talents?
What it means for hiring managers
We are not in an employer’s market yet despite all the factors above. Attracting, hiring and retaining talent will constantly be a challenge be it good or bad times.
Most candidates are still asking for their desired salary package recognising that the high cost of living will not go away anytime soon as we maintain our spot as the most expensive city in the world.
Some companies increasingly have opted back to an entirely or almost entirely work from office working arrangements. There’s a good amount of talent out there who would only accept a good balance of hybrid working arrangements and would never look back at pre-Covid working arrangements. Accept the fact that these talents are out of your consideration if the nature of work requires one to operate largely from the office.
Be open-minded to where the right talent can come from and not just from similar disciplines, categories or companies. The Great Reshuffle has widened the pool of talents for consideration, and they might just add new dynamics and perspectives to your current team.
If the pool of talents available for consideration is shrinking due to the reduction of applicants, higher salary expectations or demands for work for home arrangements, it would make sense to widen your aperture of where the right talents can come from as well.
For talent who chose to stay with you whether they are happily engaged with their roles or not, now is the time to deepen ties with them.
With current challenging times, a fair bit of talent have developed a stronger sense of purpose in their role to help their organisations get through this tough patch. Galvanise them, let them see how their immediate scope connects and contributes to the bigger picture. Take the effort to deliver personal touches even though you might be focusing on the big picture and commercial side of things to keep everyone afloat.
Sure, most organisations currently have their hands tied in terms of dishing out increments and promotions. But do deliver on the promise of rewards when the time comes where you will be able to do so.
What it means for talent
"What got you here today might not get you there tomorrow”. We stole this quote shamelessly from our ex-boss.
Rather than see it as a time of uncertainly, there is no better time than now than to re-evaluate your broader career direction. What roles, traits or industry experiences do you have that can help you be in your element, a concept coined by Sir Ken Robinson.
The Great Reshuffle has helped many organisations to be more accepting of which sectors hires can come from. In a few years time when you look back at career switches you might have done, it will all seem quite intuitive.
For those who are in “The Big Gap” phase and not by choice, do not despair and have faith in the saying “the harder you try, the luckier you get”. The process of finding a full-time job in the current climate can be a full-time job in itself.
Adopt an omni-channel approach of putting yourself in the radar of hiring managers, friends, industry acquaintances, recruiters and building your LinkedIn presence. More often than not, the next role you land often doesn’t come from your immediate professional or social networks.
Generalists or specialists are equally sought after as well. In good times, there’s a proliferation of specialised roles whilst in tough times, roles are merged and makes for a bigger case of generalists. Don’t just follow the crowd or trends. Just be good at what you do regardless of which spectrum you are on. The Japanese calls it Takumi or “craftsmanship”. Go with what helps you to be in your element.
The rise of AI and the displacing of jobs
There have been numerous innovations in the past year from Robotics to Web3 and debates on whether they would displace jobs by a large extent. With regards to AI, there doesn’t seem to be many doubts that it will be a major game changer. With roles displaced, new roles will be created as well by the AI industry albeit to a lesser degree in terms of jobs volume.
If the development of AI does pose a major threat to your current practise, look at the possibilities of embracing and incorporating it into your area of discipline.
“The probability lies in that direction.” Sherlock Holmes said and frankly speaking, we can’t put our fingers on where things are headed exactly as well. Hopefully, the above observations and tips will help you identify a clearer path forward.
This article was written by Jimmy Yar, founder and Sim Yunying, partner at The Talent Detective.
Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top marketing stories.
We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's marketing development – for free.subscribe now open in new window