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Your Hiring Pulse report for December 2022

In November’s Hiring Pulse, we went into detail about ongoing layoffs – especially in the tech sector – and about the “hot stove” metaphor as it pertains to the upcoming (or not upcoming) recession. In short, recent workforce “optimizations” indicate preparation for an anticipated plunge in the economy – but perhaps, the streamlining was needed in any case and is a healthy overreaction to what might not be such a devastating economic valley in the end.

Hiring Pulse

But now, we’re looking at the data and seeing some interesting ongoing trends that keep topping trends from the previous month – and we’re drawing some fresh, but not different, conclusions.

Let’s take a look:

How we’re looking at data

We’ve adopted two methodologies in how we look at the Hiring Pulse dataset. For Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire, we’re measuring each month using the average of 2019, the last “normal” year, as a baseline index of 100.

For job openings, we’re taking a different route – simply, the average number of job postings per company. This gives us the opportunity to gauge overall recruitment activity and whether that’s going up or down.

Want a more detailed methodology? Jump to the end and check it out.

As always, we look at the worldwide trends for three common SMB hiring metrics:

  1. Time to Fill (TTF)
  2. Total Job Openings
  3. Candidates per Hire (CPH)

Let’s start analyzing!

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This is part of a series of monthly hiring trend reports for SMBs that go out on the first Tuesday of every month. Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates!

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Table of Contents:

Main highlights

The three main highlights for this month’s Hiring Pulse are:

  • Small businesses are hiring more, whereas enterprise-level businesses are hiring less
  • Candidates are flooding the job market at a rate unseen in a year and a half
  • Huge numbers in Silicon Valley tech layoffs could lead to cross-border mobility not only for those laid off, but for employers as well

1. Time to Fill

For this report, Workable defines “Time to Fill” as the number of days from when a new job is opened to when that job opening is filled. It’s important to understand that definition: jobs that are still open as of the end of November are not included in this graph as they don’t yet have an “end date”. Only the jobs that are filled are included here.

Got that? Good. Let’s have a look at the monthly TTF trend against the average of 2019, based on jobs that have been filled from the start of 2020 through to the end of November 2022:

Last month, we marked a new low for Time to Fill for 2022 when TTF hit 88.7 (reported as 88.4 last month – since updated with more complete data). Well, we’ve again hit another new low in November, with the TTF trend dropping to 88.2.

That’s the lowest it’s been since May 2021 when TTF was 87.8. And this is the second consecutive month that it’s been below 90.

Let’s compare to the Ghosts of Hiring Past. Note the three pretty significant spikes in that nearly three-year span in the chart above. No, those aren’t anomalies – they are all in January. This can be explained by saying that work processes slow down in December as we go through the motions of holiday season, and that adds days – weeks, even – to the normal time spent on filling open roles. So, TTF takes a leap in the post-holiday period.

But what’s curious this time around is in the months preceding January. In previous years, the Q4 months show an incline in the TTF trend and climaxing in the first month of the new year. But this time in 2022, there’s a marked decline month over month.

We’ll have to wait until February 2023 to see what January looks like this time – but if you wanted to put down a wager, it might not be outrageous to predict that the “post-holiday TTF spike” may not be as prominent as in the past.

2. Total Job Openings

Total job openings represent the total number of job openings activated across the entire Workable network.

As stated above, we’re displaying this as an average of job postings per company in the network. And because this is not contingent on job opened/filled dates like TTF and Candidates per Hire, we can simply look at the raw job open numbers.

As we did in a Hiring Pulse a couple of months ago, we’re again looking at total job postings per business across three separate size buckets – companies with 1-50 full-time employees (FTEs), 51-200 FTEs, and 200 or more employees. And for a baseline, we’ve also included a line for all businesses put together.

What stands out here is how the smallest bucket – the one with 1-50 FTEs – is growing significantly, with four straight months of increasing job activity starting with 3.1 job postings per business in August up to 4.2 job postings per business in November. That’s more than one extra job posting per business on average.

And while medium-sized businesses (51-200 FTEs) hold steady across time, enterprise-level businesses (200+) are dropping dramatically over the past three months. In September, enterprises posted an average of 19.4 jobs, but that goes down to 17.4 in November. That’s two full job postings less on average.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on the moon, and especially if you’re in the tech space, you’re well aware of the mounting layoffs grabbing headlines every week. As it happens, according to Visual Capitalist, November saw more than twice as many layoffs in the month (59,710 cuts) compared with the previous 2022 monthly high set in June (29,299).

But what’s noteworthy about that Visual Capitalist chart is that a good half of the layoffs are attributed to just 11 companies – all of which we’re very familiar with. Meta, Amazon and Twitter are the most prominent, followed by Carvana, Doordash, Stripe, and a handful of other tech behemoths.

What are we saying here? Yes, smaller companies lay off fewer employees, which makes a layoff event less prominent in their case. However, the flip side of the coin is that smaller businesses – those in the 1-50 FTE bucket – can be more nimble. They’re like hundreds of thousands of kayaks among a few ocean liners, adapting as they go. The ebbs and flows of the currents affect them too, but they can roll with the changes more quickly.

So, jumping from three to four job postings on average isn’t necessarily a sign of economic health, but rather, a sign of increased agility in times of turbulence.

3. Candidates per Hire

Workable defines the number of candidates per hire (CPH) as, succinctly, the number of applicants for a job up to the point of that job being filled. Let’s look at what’s going on here through November:

This is resounding. Four straight months of higher-than-normal CPH data points – and each month higher than the previous one. In November, we’re seeing the highest CPH trend since the beginning of last year.

And for perspective – the beginning of last year marked the end of astronomical highs in the CPH trend; you can see that in the updated chart. The start of that data mountain there can be correlated with – and directly linked to – the advent of the pandemic. Layoffs hit unprecedented highs in Q2 2020 – leading to the market being flooded with candidates.

But as things slowly reached a new normal, we saw Anthony Klotz’ Great Resignation prediction come true, with job quits going through the roof. And correlating with that – again, not purely coincidentally – was a sharp drop in candidates per job to below the 2019 average starting in August 2021 when the trend hit 97.5. In short: when people quit, they weren’t looking for new jobs. They were checking out in a big eff you to the system altogether.

The CPH metric stayed underwater all the way to August of this year, when a staggering 15.5-point jump from July brought it back up to 105.7. And from there on, as you can see, it’s hitting new recent highs, culminating in 116.2 for November.

Candidates are flooding the market again – and while many may be a result of layoffs, we’ll wager that many others are realizing that checking out of the system isn’t a sustainable option and they’re reentering the workforce.

What’s going on here?

First, let’s look at a different consequence of increased layoffs in the tech sector. It means that tens of thousands of foreign workers are having to leave the United States because they’re in the country on sponsored H1-B work visas.

According to the article, this may mean the US will fall behind in tech competitiveness. It also means a potential upside for tech companies headquartered outside of the country, such as in Canada and the European Union – because those tech workers will be looking for jobs in places with more permissive work visa policies.

We’ve kind of seen this happen in the recent past, but in very different circumstances, when the Trump administration made it more difficult to get an H1-B visa. This led to a Silicon Valley brain drain, with a good portion of talent – and companies, too – moving north to Canada to take advantage of more friendly work visa policies.

Now, on to candidates per hire – the significant growth in that metric isn’t unprecedented by a long shot – but it’s indicative of things to come. For a long time now, the major challenge that recruiters and hiring managers had faced was in candidate sourcing and attraction.

In short, they haven’t been able to pull in an adequate number of applicants when they open up a new job.

Either they aren’t sourcing those candidates in the right places, or their value proposition just isn’t up to snuff and it’s been a candidate’s market all this time.

This meant that hiring teams worked diligently on their recruitment marketing tactics, promoting their companies as great places to work. They’ve also dug deeper into the market to find – and even proactively contact – those ideal candidates, in hopes of luring them to their open roles.

But all that is changing. Let’s call COVID an anomaly and say that for the first time in actual years, the scales are tipping in the other direction. We’re seeing a situation where all someone has to do is post a job, and they get slammed with a hefty number of quality applicants within minutes.

This is no longer one-click-apply territory – these are legit jobseekers sent out to pasture by their most recent employer, and they’re actively and aggressively looking for a new job.

What does that mean for hiring teams? It means the hiring pipeline is about to get clogged. This means there’ll be more time and resources spent on screening and evaluating candidates, so as to not let good ones fall through the cracks. It also means evaluating them differently such that you try to get a sense of their motivation to work for you – is the candidate simply trying to get a job in general, or do they really want to work in your company?

Even if it’s honest to say that candidates do need jobs so they can pay rent, buy food, support families, and the like, it’s still important to the employer to hire someone who’s really keen to work at that specific job and to do a good job of it, too. And for those new hires to stick around as well, as opposed to seeing your opportunity as a stepping stone to a more permanent solution.

Not only does that change the evaluation game, it also means your hiring teams – already strapped for time and resources after cutbacks and streamlinings – will be even more stress-tested going forward. You want your hiring process to be free of breakdowns. This is where automation becomes a boon for you, the SMB employer.

Automation using recruitment technology – for example, one-way video interviews, automated messaging and interview self-scheduling features – will be incredibly useful going forward.

Have a great holiday and see you in 2023!

Thoughts, comments, disagreements? Send them to [email protected], with “Hiring Pulse” in the subject heading. We’ll share the best feedback in an upcoming report. Watch for our next Hiring Pulse in January 2023!

The Hiring Pulse: Methodology

Because one of the three metrics (Job Openings) is different from the other two metrics (Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire), we’re adopting two very distinct methodologies.

To bring the best insights to small and medium (and enterprise-level) businesses worldwide, here’s what we’re doing with the Job Openings metric: we’re taking the number of job openings in a given month and dividing that by the number of active companies in our dataset, and posting that as an average. For example, if July 2022 shows the average Job Openings per company as 7.7, that simply means each company posted an average of 7.7 jobs that month.

For the Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire metrics, we’re comparing a specific month’s trend against the full average of 2019, and we show the result using that 2019 average as a baseline index of 100. For example, if July 2022 shows an average Time to Fill of 30 days for all jobs, and the monthly average for all of 2019 is 28, we present the result for July 2022 as 107.1 – in other words, 7.1% higher than the average of 2019.

And we chose 2019 as the baseline because, frankly, that’s the last normal year before the pandemic started to present challenges to data analysis among other things.

The majority of the data is sourced from businesses across the Workable network, making it a powerful resource for SMBs when planning their own hiring strategy.

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