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Talent Talk: Is Hiring Moving Back to the Old Normal?

If you are hiring, here’s what you should be looking at right now.

Paul Sturgeon

January 22, 2024

2 Min Read
jobs page in newspaper
Peter Dazeley/Stone via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Salary pressures may ease in 2024, but it will still be a candidate-driven market
  • To attract top talent, streamline your hiring process
  • Consider what values most to millennials, probably your recruitment target group

Most people I know in the plastics manufacturing world are looking forward to 2024 and the new year, perhaps more so than ever. If you are making your business New Year’s Resolutions, here are a few things you might want to consider as a hiring manager or human resources professional.

For most of 2023, the labor markets continued to be red hot and defy historical logic. The environment was driven by intense competition for skilled workers, salary inflation, signing bonuses, and so on. Over the past two years, our anecdotal experience was that passive candidates making job changes were expecting — and getting — 10 to 25% pay bumps.

For 2024, we will continue to experience some of the same difficulties; however, we may see an easing of the salary increase pressures, perhaps a swinging of the pendulum back to the “old normal.” Keep in mind, though, that the longer-term landscape will still be difficult to navigate. There are studies that predict two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030, so be grateful for an easing but do not think the struggle is over.

If you are hiring, what should you be looking at right now?

  • Identify ways to streamline the hiring process. We are still in a candidate-driven market: Top performers often have multiple opportunities and the company that lands them is usually the one able to move the fastest.

  • Outline your hiring needs for the entire year, considering opportunities created by growth, retirement, and other normal attrition. Hire ahead of a critical need.

  • Consider what you might be able to offer the millennial candidates that you probably most want to attract and hire. They tend to value things like flexible schedules, the option to work remotely on occasion, interesting projects, and the ability to relate to colleagues. 

  • Workers will increasingly prioritize stability over maximizing compensation. Emphasize that in your recruitment process versus the lure of a signing bonus or huge pay increase.

About the Author(s)

Paul Sturgeon

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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