Job Market Then and Now: Candidate’s Market vs Employer’s Market

From the end of 2018 until February 2020, we were in a “candidate’s market.” This means that there were many job openings, yet the candidate pool was very shallow. What this meant for the candidate was they were highly prized possessions in their respective fields, and thus could negotiate for a higher salary knowing they were greatly sought-after. From a recruiting point of view, this is a tough process to negotiate. Your client’s are not budging on their salary range, and the candidates are fielding many offers. Candidate’s in this market generally have little loyalty to anything other than who will pay them more. This irrational exuberance has been seen many times before (e.g. Dot-com bubble, 2008 Financial Crisis.) The good times will never end! I’ll never die!

Now – during COVID-19 – we are seeing what happens when its an “employer’s market.” This means we have a small amount of job openings, with a deep reservoir of candidates available. This is great for employers as the leverage and power has completely shifted. You can now “low-ball” the salary with confidence that they aren’t going to be getting a counter-offer from other employers. Often heard during these interviews is, “At this point, I just need a job.” This is music to a company’s ears; and an awful sales pitch for yourself.

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Adjusting to this shift is abrupt for those who were riding the candidate market wave through ’18 and ’19. The grim reality is you can’t make $75/hr anymore–you have to take a pay cut. A Utopian career trajectory is one where you are always getting a better position with better pay. In reality, there comes a point where you can’t make what you made previously. This can be a harsh, ego-smashing moment for job seekers.

Unfortunately, what needs to be done at this point, isn’t. The path taken is that of “holding out” for a job that pays the same or better, falsely believing that the same market exists back when you landed your last gig.

The solution is to take a step back in order to take a step forward. Consider that a slight decrease in pay for a job that starts Monday, is better than no job offer that starts never. Though, that is a popular employer for many. I assume ego and status get in the way, thus clouding their logic. I will expand on that thought in future articles.

Point is, you might just be able to squeak by in America at $70/hr. Those that thrive in either market understand this phenomenon and the future of their careers in a way that does not solely focus on title and income, but that of the proper job fit and job enthusiasm.

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