The world of talent acquisition has always been in constant flux. 2020, however, spurred an acceleration of pre-existing market shifts which left many companies struggling to find, recruit, and keep qualified employees in the new hiring landscape.

In Rochester, New York, business leaders already faced a continuous uphill battle regarding the recruitment and retention of highly skilled employees. In 2021, the talent acquisition terrain demands companies to be more flexible, accommodating, and competitive than ever before.

To help you prepare for what’s to come, we’ll review the hiring trends impacting the Western New York business community and discuss strategies that savvy leaders can use to capitalize on this unprecedented opportunity to acquire top talent.

Trend #1: The Sansdemic

Currently, there are more unfilled executive positions than there are willing or capable applicants. Some economists are referring to this mounting problem as the sansdemic (“sans”—without “demic”—people).

This labor shortage stifles business growth, increases competition over hiring, and drives up compensation. As a result, the advantage falls in the hands of the talent, not the company doing the hiring. There are several underlying reasons for this labor shortage, including:

Boomers retiring

The most significant underlying factor of the sansdemic is that the Baby Boomer generation is aging out of the workforce. By 2030, the vast majority of the largest population sub-group will have exited the labor market. In their absence, economists predict that there will be a significant talent gap due to a lack of younger workers capable of properly filling many of these high-skilled jobs. And this is something that Rochester businesses need to be especially aware of, seeing as in the Rochester metro area, 23.1% of the workforce is considered to be “aging” (55+), compared to 21.4 percent nationally.[2]

Psychological changes

There’s both anecdotal and statistical evidence that the pandemic has caused many people to reevaluate their work-life—namely, what work they wish to pursue and what environment they’d like to work in. According to a Pew Center study:

U.S. adults who are currently unemployed, furloughed or, temporarily laid off and are looking for a job are pessimistic about their prospects for future employment, and most (66%) say they’ve seriously considered changing fields or occupations since they’ve been unemployed.

Reallocation friction

The post-pandemic jobs landscape is still settling. As a result, many workers are waiting to see what new jobs are available, which ones they wish to pursue, and what skills are required to satisfy a different role. This mismatch in interest and skillsets exacerbates the labor shortage, especially in the short term.

Naturally, the labor shortage coupled with rising demand has impacted candidate behavior. For instance, the ratio of job offers to acceptances is decreasing. Since job seekers have more optionality and employers have fewer prospects, this alters the power dynamic, making it more difficult and costly to land top candidates.

#2 The Market for Executive Talent is Scorching

The hiring market is white-hot. Senior executive hiring is outpacing 2019 thresholds. This pent-up demand—now unleashed—has been exacerbated by the labor shortage.

In addition to increased competition, the executive recruiting process itself is also in transition. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “It’s getting faster, as virtual interviews have cut the time it takes to interview and hire to roughly four to eight weeks, rather than being drawn out over months of time-heavy trips.”

If your business wishes to compete in a hypercompetitive recruiting landscape, it may take more resources and flexibility to win over top talent or to retain existing talent. Similarly, you must take the proper precautions to insulate yourself from the boomer exodus—whether by ensuring that lower-level employees are properly prepared to fill vacant roles or creating “upskilling” training programs for younger workers.

#3 Pipelining Is Essential For Talent Acquisition

Hiring is a time-consuming and costly process. And because of the skills gap and talent shortage impacting the supply chain of quality candidates, Rochester businesses need to be proactive and strategic about how they recruit and what they look for in potential applicants.

To hire the right person, you need to know exactly what the role requires for the present moment—not just from a skills perspective, but also with regard to culture, leadership, and personality traits. By taking stock of your needs and narrowing your search parameters, you’re better positioned to identify and pursue top prospects.

One of the best ways that businesses in Rochester can combat the various labor shortage issues is by developing local recruiting pipelines and talent pools. Just in the immediate area alone, there are several quality colleges where you can begin laying the groundwork, including:

  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • University of Rochester
  • Nazareth College
  • Roberts Wesleyan

#4 Rochester Boasts a Growing and Shifting Local Economy

Along these lines, Rochester has the potential to become a place for technology and biotech companies to flourish. In fact, MIT economics professor Jon Gruber considers it the best U.S. city for growth. He writes: “Rochester has a large and highly educated workforce, a fantastic university base, and a high quality of life, making it an ideal candidate to become a next-generation technology hub.”

In the past, Rochester was known as a three-workplace town. You were either employed by Kodak, Xerox, or Bausch & Lomb. Today, that’s changed. Now, more than 97% of Rochester workers are employed by small to midsize companies. Of those, the most promising industry sectors include:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Energy innovation
  • Food and beverage manufacturing and agriculture
  • Life sciences
  • Optics, photonics, and imaging
  • Software and IT

This makes Rochester an increasingly attractive place to work for both up-state college graduates or talented executives looking to flee New York City. Business Insider labeled it the #1 Northeast city to live in after the pandemic. To that end, companies would do well to highlight the benefits of living and working in an up-and-coming hub.

#5 Flexibility is a Value Proposition

The last two years have accelerated the digitization of the workplace, making it possible to operate from seemingly anywhere. As a result, employees want greater flexibility in how and where they work. Many individuals, especially younger candidates, now prefer to have the option of remote work.

Rochester, NY, companies that are reluctant to embrace a remote work model in some shape or form do so to their detriment. While there may be certain roles where being in person is necessary, there are likely others where it’s not. By embracing a hybrid workplace, you can entice potential hires and broaden your available talent pool.

This makes it possible to cast a wider net across both the state and the country.

When it comes time to hire, remember that your flexibilities represent a significant value proposition. And that doesn’t end at remote work. If you offer unique benefits or perks—such as unlimited PTO—they could also be the differentiating factors that entice a candidate.

#6 Your Online Brand Matters

A compelling brand identity has become essential for attracting top talent. According to HR Daily Advisor, 50% of candidates won’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even if they’re making more money. And the vast majority of candidates will perform a thorough review of the business before applying.

Furthermore, new candidates—particularly Millenials and Gen X—look for certain qualities in a company, including:

  • Diversity and inclusion – Instead of simply paying lip service, workers want to join a company that embraces a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.
  • Company values – Employees want to work for a company with a mission and value system they support. Be sure to highlight what your company believes in and how it hopes to achieve those goals.
  • Career pathing – People are reluctant to join or stay in a job that doesn’t have a clear path for upward mobility. Transparency in how their career can develop is an important way you can recruit or retain top talent.

If your website doesn’t highlight these value propositions, it may be time to rethink your online profile from an employer branding perspective.

What We See on the Horizon—Recruiting in Rochester, NY, with CCY

Although the recruiting landscape is still in the quite actively evolving, the picture is coming into focus, and the opportunities on the horizon are vast.

For Rochester business leaders who want to capitalize on this paradigm shift in the talent acquisition market, it’s important to consider how the labor shortages and the competitive recruiting environment impact the way you hire. To stand out, you must embrace flexibility and modernity, build an online brand, and establish an effective pipeline for recruiting new talent.

Do you need help aligning your recruitment goals with your organizational strategy?

At CCY, our experienced leadership advisory team can provide strategic services to help your business adapt, strategize, and excel. Whether you need guidance with talent acquisition, leadership development, consulting & training, or mergers & acquisitions, our proven solutions will position your business for long-term success.