The Eagle Blog

Coming Your Way … The NEXT War for Talent!

The staffing business is very cyclical by nature, and the two extremes that we deal with are the “Cold Market”, with fewer job openings (the recent recession an excellent example) and the “Hot Market”, where there is huge demand and finding people is an issue. The pre-recession boom in Calgary was a great example of a hot market.

As we slowly recover from the recession we move along the continuum from a “Cold Market” to a “Hot Market”, and it is worth noting the differences, because understanding them can improve your opportunity for success in finding the talent that you need.


Could be also called a “Buyers market” or “Employers Market. Typically there are lots of candidates in the market looking for jobs, and not too many jobs to be had. There are some excellent candidates in the market but they are typically snapped up quickly, and a generalization would suggest that the excellent candidates are NOT often available under ANY market conditions (they get scooped long before they are looking). These are the people that every company wants on their team. It is also fair to say that they are less likely to move jobs during a “Cold Market” and so can be difficult, but not impossible, to hire.

Staffing companies bring value that is specific to these market conditions in a variety of ways.

1. They sort through the volume. There are a ton of resumes floating around, and when a client needs someone they can be deluged in resumes which makes finding the best fit very time consuming and it will detract from the “core business” of the client. Having a senior project manager wade through hundreds of resumes is not a good use of their time.

2. Staffing companies know who the “great candidates” are and can identify them quickly for clients who need help now.

Staffing companies always bring their clients fast, efficient access to quality people at an attractive rate. In a Cold Market access to the great people and volume processing can bring additional value.

A Cold Market is a great time for forward thinking clients to strengthen their teams. You have a great opportunity to replace mediocre performers with “A Players” during a cold market, without significantly increasing your cost base!


Could also be called a “Sellers Market” or “Job Seeker Market”. Typically companies are in hiring mode, there are lots of jobs available, we see skills shortages and even labour shortages. During a hot market, even decent (not great) candidates get multiple job offers, we see more “turndowns” (refusal of job offers) and candidates feel more empowered to “pick and choose”. The Great candidates are all gainfully employed and only accessible as passive job seekers, and therefore more difficult to access (you won’t see their resumes on Monster!).

During a hot market staffing companies provide their usual valuable service (fast, cost effective access to quality candidates) but can also bring very “Hot Market” specific skills.

1. Access to great candidates. The staffing company knows where they are, and how to get to them. They can work with clients to proactively identify timing for future projects and identify when the right people might be available.
2. Process and speed. Staffing companies operate fast, their processes are designed to get clients great candidates when they need them. In a hot market clients are focused on their business and most often do not have time or patitence to wait for talent, they need it now … that’s what we do!
3. Rate control. there is upwards rate pressure in a hot market but staffing companies know what the market rates are and can advise both clients and contractors on the current market rates, ensuring best value for money.


There is euphoria in certain industry sectors (banking would be one) but generally I would say that we are in transition … to keep the “temperature theme”, we have moved out of “the cold” across Canada and different geographic markets are at different stages of “warmth”. The hottest market right now would be the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) largely driven by the banking sector, and I would deem it to be getting hot, but not really hot yet. A market like Calgary is a little behind the GTA, slower out of recession, warm but not hot … and across the country we are in various shades of warm!


As the markets heat up there are some important things clients can do to improve their chances of success.

1. Be proactive … as much as possible identifying “future” needs will garner more success.
2. Establish a VERY EFFICIENT hiring process. This is critical because in a hot market speed will win. Taking time for multiple interviews over a long period of time will mean losing out on many good candidates. Your staffing company should be able to help you with this, but you need to be willing to “make it happen”.
3. Establish a VERY EFFICIENT onboarding process. After all the effort to get the right candidate on board it would be a shame to lose them because you didn’t treat them right, right from the beginning! Remember they were interviewing with other companies who might get very aggressive in trying to hire “your person” when they find out they lost the candidate!
4. Be realistic. Looking for the “perfect candidate” can be very frustrating, so be brutal with those “mandatory requirements” … what if they don’t have a university degree (but have been doing the job for 10 years); what if they have only two years experience rather than five (but are top performers in the role already); what if they only have four of your five needs?

There is no doubt in my mind that we will be back to skills AND labour shortages before too long. NOW is a great time to work on these areas and make sure you are ready for the next “War for Talent”.

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