How Employers Can Uncover Opportunities in a Changing Labor Market

The world of work is changing fast. Automation, an aging workforce and an increasingly complex global economy are profoundly affecting markets for jobs and talent. Every day we see new evidence of industries in flux and struggling to keep pace with shifting hiring trends.

What will the opportunities and talent pools of tomorrow look like, and how can you position your company for growth and innovation? Understanding the dynamics of three key ingredients in today’s changing labor market is one place to start. Those ingredients — jobs, workers and hiring — all need to be in balance for employers and job seekers to both succeed.

Jobs: Find opportunity in creative destruction

Throughout history, technological advancements have rendered many jobs obsolete, a process economists describe as creative destruction. Just as we don’t have as many farm workers, switchboard operators or book binders as we did in the past, we continue to see some jobs being phased out. In fact, by some estimates, up to 50% of US jobs may be at risk of automation.

At the same time, we see new jobs emerging. Technology drives the need for new skills and opens new avenues of opportunity. Terms that were nearly absent from Indeed job postings just a few years ago, like “Internet of Things,” “virtual reality” and “deep learning,” are quickly becoming in-demand areas of expertise.

Indeed Internet of Things

These shifts in the types of work people do may bring growing pains but are ultimately a positive sign. We need to be able to adjust to those changes, because doing so is precisely what defines a successful economy.

Today’s employers must prepare for a constantly changing job landscape. Rather than fighting the ebb and flow of certain roles and skill sets, the way to succeed is to accept that change is inevitable and embrace new technologies and jobs. Look for creative ways to apply job seekers’ and employees’ existing skills to do new types of work. Seek out adaptable candidates who have diversified experience that will carry them through this evolving economy and your organization will see results.

Workers: Rethink baby boomers and bachelor’s degrees

People are living longer and many baby boomers are postponing retirement, which means our workforce is getting older, with the median age of the US labor force already above 42 today when it was just 38 in 1994. This is part of a global trend and one of the most influential changes taking place in our workforce. By 2020, workers 55 and older will make up 25% of the labor force.

Indeed Median Age of Workforce

We’ve also seen a steady rise in recent decades in the share of our workforce with a bachelor’s degree or higher, but it’s important to remember that the college-educated are just 33% of the US population. Those without a degree will continue to make up the majority of the labor force for the foreseeable future.

These worker dynamics call on employers to think creatively to expand their talent pools. Keep boomers engaged to make the most of their vast experience, and help them work alongside younger generations as skilled managers and mentors.

As you write job descriptions and screen candidates, consider carefully whether a college degree should be required for the role you’re filling. When you can, extend opportunities to job seekers who might lack a degree but have diverse and valuable experience to offer your organization.

Hiring: Embrace lessons from the tech industry

The last crucial ingredient of the changing labor market mix is hiring itself, which is being disrupted by technology and social factors. It’s a candidate’s market, and many industries will continue to see job growth outpace job seeker interest, including hospitality and transportation.

Meeting growing demand for talent means listening to what job seekers are asking for, and one increasingly loud demand is for greater flexibility in how, when and where work gets done. Searches related to flexibility are up 42.1% on Indeed across a range of countries in recent years.

Look to tech industry trendsetters that have successfully differentiated themselves with flexibility, pay, location, perks, meaningful work opportunities and professional development programs to woo the most sought-after candidates in the labor market. Coding academies have also emerged as a novel tactic for building and supplying new pipelines of talent to competitive fields. Experiment with the combination of perks that’s right for your business, and look for creative ways to build your own talent pipelines.

With a strong grasp of the new dynamics of jobs, workers and hiring, you can build talent attraction strategies that will help your organization uncover great opportunities in the years to come. For more research on what matters most to top performers, read our 2016 Talent Attraction Study.

Indeed Top Performers