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The Hidden Challenge In Today’s Jobs Market That No-One Is Openly Talking About

The Hidden Challenge In Today's Jobs Market

Whether you are a candidate eager to secure your next career move, or an employer in need of fresh talent, there’s a hidden challenge to overcome in today’s jobs market.

We’re encountering this challenge a lot in the markets we serve – and hearing from lots of employers and candidates that they’re seeing the same patterns in the jobs market. Though we don’t have all the answers to explain why we’re seeing this happen, which is, in part, why we’re writing this today.

Perhaps someone reading this will be able to shed further light in the comments?

In a nutshell, we’re seeing huge numbers of candidates who are struggling to secure any job interviews or make much progress in their search for a new career, whilst simultaneously seeing lots of other candidates who are attracting multiple job offers.

That’s a real challenge for employers, as just when you think you’ve filled that critical role, you end up having to start over again when your preferred candidate chooses an alternative offer. But it’s also highly frustrating for those candidates stuck in a rut and unable to spark any interest in their profile and skills.

The Candidate Imbalance We’re Seeing Today

Having become increasingly aware of this issue, we decided to do some digging around to see what data we could uncover. From some Googling, we established that the latest data* shows the proportion of employers experiencing difficulties in securing the talent they need has recently hit a 17-year high.

With 77% of the 39,000 employers surveyed reporting this issue, these 2023 figures are more than double the 35% of employers experiencing this problem in 2013 – and up significantly on the 54% reporting this issue just before the pandemic started.

In terms of technical skills, those with IT and Data skills are in the shortest supply and are presenting the biggest challenge for employers globally.

* Source: Manpower Group’s 2023 annual talent shortage survey

What’s odd is that we’re operating in an economy where there’ve been widespread layoffs and, therefore, a flow of employees re-entering the jobs market. That wouldn’t seem to fit with talent shortages being at a 17-year high, would it, unless there’s something else at play here?

The insider’s view that we’d like to share today is that there’s actually a major candidate imbalance in the market. On the one hand, we have candidates readily securing multiple offers – and lots of employers therefore missing out on hires they were expecting to make. Whilst, on the other hand, there are simultaneously lots of candidates struggling to secure any job offers (or even interviews) at all.

With our exposure to the market, we encounter this imbalance all the time and are hearing of this struggle from employers and candidates alike. But if you do some digging online, you’ll soon find companies reporting on the sheer extent of this challenge. As an example, Gartner’s Voice of the Candidate survey this year found that 35% of candidates reported having received four or more offers during their last job search. Almost as worrying is the fact that, of the 2,000 candidates who recently accepted an offer, nearly half (47%) said they were still open to offers.

In short, employers are facing a challenge to attract strong candidates. They are then liable to lose their preferred candidate to an alternative job offer; and, even when a candidate starts work for them, they can’t be sure that candidate will stay rather than remain active in the market.

The underlying cause, though, is less clear-cut. We don’t have all the answers and would welcome your thoughts in the comments. It would seem that the economy must have evolved at such a pace in these last couple of years that large swathes of our workers are simply finding themselves without the skills or experience profile that’s in demand. Hence the imbalance – that some workers are attracting multiple job offers, whilst many more are achieving none whatsoever.

What Can Business Leaders Do?

Faced with the severity of this challenge and the imbalance between desired talent and available talent, business leaders are clearly going to have to ensure their organizations compete more fiercely than ever to attract the hires they need.

Gartner’s survey found that flexibility was the top reason candidates chose to accept a job offer. So, in the stampede to get everyone back to the office, keep in mind that this comes at a cost when we think about making the hires you need to make. Achieving better work-life balance and higher compensation were the other big draws for candidates, so again ask yourself – are you doing enough in these areas?

Now with any global data like this, keep in mind that the dynamics in your own geography and the niches you recruit in may be markedly different. Talk to a recruitment business that’s a specialist in your niche to really understand what you need to do to appeal to candidates today. The answer may be quite different – and you’ll need to tailor your organization’s employee value proposition and approach accordingly.

Besides getting this expert input, ensuring you have all the fundamentals in place to attract and get candidates through your hiring process as swiftly as possible is going to be key to success, both today and in the coming years.

A checklist of things to address could include ensuring your organization:

  • Proactively manages and enhances your employer branding to help with attracting and winning over top talent. This would include leveraging social media as a platform to engage with potential candidates and to build relationships.
  • Improves the speed and efficiency of your recruitment process in order to make offers faster and help ensure you don’t lose candidates to competing offers. This would include ringfencing the time of key decision makers during the recruitment process, so that there aren’t unavoidable delays in deciding which candidates to progress.
  • Follows up with candidates promptly after interviews to give them an idea of your timeline and decision-making process. Remember, good communication is key to keep candidates engaged in your process.
  • Conducts benchmarking to ensure you are offering competitive compensation packages that are tailored to each position. Do likewise for non-monetary elements of your employee offering, such as your flexible working arrangements, offering on-site childcare, and workplace wellness programs.
  • Invests in training and development to create more attractive opportunities for candidates. Plus, provides mentorship opportunities for new hires through onboarding programs, buddy schemes or ongoing workshops.


In conclusion, the current talent crunch poses significant challenges for employers globally. Despite the influx of job seekers onto the market, there’s a clear discrepancy between the skills employers are demanding and what’s available.

This is manifesting itself in high-demand candidates receiving multiple offers, leading to frequent disappointments – and missed hiring targets – for employers. By investing in the areas we’ve highlighted here, businesses will be better placed to navigate the coming years of talent shortages and ensure they attract and retain the right talent to fuel continued growth.

We’d very much welcome your thoughts on these trends though and look forward to reading your input via the comments. Of course, should your business be looking for external support in overcoming these hiring challenges, we’d also welcome an exploratory call. Please see our contact us page whenever that’s appropriate.

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.