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I appreciate, as always, your appreciation of nuance and your preference for straight-forwardness -- not a common combo! Another thing I like about your blog (always have) is the balance you seek between the interests of the employer and the employee. Because, of course, in the end they are THE SAME THING!

For the last few days, I have been writing about the more typical *lack* of this balance that I have been seeing recently. It seems that the current job market has made everyone focus on the competition between job applicants, instead of the increasing economic pressure on businesses that ought to put more of this focus back on the shoulders of those who are hiring (and retaining) employees. I'd appreciate your input. HINT! :)


Thanks - always - for your comment and thoughts.

It's true that I do strive to balance the interests of employees and employers in my posts (thanks for noticing!), for the good reason that you point out - that their well-being is ultimately connected. It's also true, though, that my advice tends to be aimed at employers (read HR folks) and their concerns, because these are the people I serve on a daily basis and this is the angle from which I think I have the most value to offer. Other bloggers, like our mutual friend the Career Encourager, are better able and more qualified to aim their advice directly at employees (current and would be), while still performing their own "balancing of interests" act.

I say this because I think it lays the foundation for my input and response to your thoughts.

I have read what you've been writing on the topic of balance (because I also like your blog!). I think you're right, that there is an imbalance in the job market, and in the things that those who opine on the job market are saying to us. I also think, however, that this imbalance is a natural - though not necessarily a happy - product of our being in a buyer's market talent-wise. When there is a job shortage, and the sellers of talent (employees/job seekers) outnumber the buyers of talent (employers), the buyers are at a natural advantage and there is a heightened sense of competition among (and pressure on) the sellers. Same thing is happening in the housing market right now. At its essence, this is basic economics, a matter of supply and demand.

There's good news too, though. The pendulum swings both ways, I've seen this first-hand, and I've now watched and worked through a number of cycles. In a seller's market for talent, it is the employers (the buyers) who are under pressure to find and keep staff amid the heightened competition for good people. Then it is the "war for talent" and the "battle of the signing bonuses".

And so what goes around comes around. We can love or hate, agree or disagree with "the market" and the effects of changes in supply and demand, but I think that we are smart to take them into account and that we ignore them at our own peril. That is why, for example, we are having a discussion at my house, with my son, about doing the extra work and time to take on a computer science minor to accompany his major in communications, in the hope that the additional effort and credentials will give him an edge in what (at least today) is a tough job market.

Those are my thoughts. Reaction?

Oh, my, I'm so flattered. Thanks so very much for this long and thoughtful response, Ann! I totally agree with you that we ignore realities (and market forces) at our peril. I don't expect to win this one (call me the mouse that roared, or something); I just mean to point out that even though employers are in the driver seat right now, a lot of them also are doing some pretty dumb driving. And quite exactly? Because they CAN!

The mouse that roared ... I love it!

Your point is right on. Employers who develop a reputation for treating employees - and prospective employees - poorly will pay a price for their short-sightedness when the tables turn. And the tables will turn. This is an excellent opportunity for the long-sighted employer to hone its employment brand, simply by treating people respectfully and fairly, so that it is in a strong position when the next seller's market rolls in.

Thanks for the conversation!

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About The Author

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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