Attempting to decipher the current employment market and understand how it impacts your business can be perplexing. The differing viewpoints from economists and pundits only further cloud your ability to interpret.

The unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelors degree fell by one tenth of a percent to 3.2 percent in January. What does this number mean to you and your business?

As with any market, there are markets within markets. The supply and demand of talent representing a specific job function can vary across industries and geographies. This is even more apparent today as the ability of candidates to relocate continues to be hindered. For this reason, it is important to know the specific market for the talent in which you will be participating.

Your next search will require you to sell an opportunity more than in the past. The candidate that you seek is most likely employed. Candidates, now more than ever, are being approached with multiple opportunities and as a result they have more options. You and your team will need to take this into consideration when interviewing and seeking to augment your staff. Be sure to effectively communicate and highlight the advantages of the role and why your company and team are special.

Your next search may take a bit longer than you anticipated. Talent is not readily available and this market will require you to perform a more extensive search for candidates. This may add time to the search cycle. The additional courting required in this market will potentially result in additional time. When juxtaposed against the perishability of talent, this creates an even more challenging environment. The best course of action is to simply know what you are looking for in a candidate, establish consensus amongst the hiring team and be prepared to move quickly on a candidate.

Members of your team are being approached. For some of you, this is difficult to hear. As the market for talent tightens, companies are forced to source more aggressively for talent. Our advice is to take a page from First Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and create a great workplace by ensuring that your employees answer the following questions positively:

Item 1: Knowing What’s Expected
Do I know what is expected of me at work?

Item 2: Materials and Equipment
Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

Item 3: Doing What I Do Best
At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

Item 4: Recognition or Praise
In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

Item 5: My Supervisor Cares About Me
Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

Item 6: Someone Encourages My Development
Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Item 7: My Opinions Seem to Count
At work, do my opinions seem to count?

Item 8: My Company’s Mission or Purpose
Does the mission/purpose on my company make me feel my job is important?

Item 9: Doing Quality Work
Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

Item 10: I Have a Best Friend at Work
Do I have a best friend at work?

Item 11: Talk to Me About My Progress
In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

Item 12: Opportunities to Learn and Grow
This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

By executing the above you will not only retain your employees but you also become a magnet for talent as the word gets around that your company is a great workplace.

One area where most of economist and pundits do agree is that the overall job market will continue to improve. The result will be a shrinking supply of degreed talent while the demand for this same talent will expand. Hence, this may become the new normal. The effects of a 3.2 percent unemployment rate for individuals with at least a bachelors degree will be different for each individual company, but it will impact all of us. Understanding the dynamics and following through on strategy will be vital. My suggestions? Know your market, sell the opportunity that you are offering, manage the expectations and create a great workplace.