2016 – An Employer’s Market

As 2015 has ended and we are mid-way through the first quarter of 2016, we continue to see uncertainty in the Alberta market. A new political landscape that we have not seen in 40+ years, continued decrease in commodity pricing, global markets in turmoil and the low Canadian dollar have made it a challenging start to the year for many corporations.  Fanning the flames of the fire are stories from the media or the coffee shop, of further drops in commodities, continued layoffs, increased grocery prices and people walking away from their mortgages and moving on with their lives in other provinces.  While many people may buy into this doom and gloom rhetoric that consumes our lives lately, many veteran Albertans are saying “we’ve been here before”.

Transportation, logistics, production and manufacturing companies continue to expand with infrastructure that was put in place in previous years. Tourism continues to flourish, accelerated by our low Canadian dollar and beautiful weather.

So what are these and other companies doing to get through? It is true that many companies have laid staff off, instituted furlough programs and made many cutbacks in various areas of their organizations.  Many companies now have the time to look at their organizations from the “30 000 foot” view to analyze the state of their business.  Through analysis of their staffing levels, training programs, operations, target markets or partnerships, companies continue to look at how they will position themselves through the remainder of 2016 and prepare for 2017.

Another aspect of the downturn is the availability of talent. Many employers are taking advantage of this by bolstering their company with talented individuals that they normally might not have been able to afford due to the salary demands driven by the oil and gas sector.  We have seen many candidates re-evaluate their career goals and pursue careers outside of the highly volatile oil and gas sector.

Many individuals tasked with recruiting talent into their organizations are simply overwhelmed with the volume of applicants applying for positions. Many people are desperate for employment and therefore, applying to any posting they see online.

Tips for efficiently recruiting individuals into your organization:

  • Thoroughly screen potential candidates
  • Carefully review cover letters and resumes of each applicant. Check for inconsistencies or major gaps in employment.
  • Conduct focused interviews with selected candidates. Keep in mind that many candidates are well prepared for the interview process.
  • Ask for references (we suggest former supervisors as opposed to colleagues or personal references) and conduct them as soon as possible

Please remember that while education and skills are important, cultural fit is the most important aspect when selecting an individual to join your organization. Skills can be taught, attitude and ambition cannot.