Mid Year Market Observations

Much like last year, 2018 is proving to be robust and busy and this should continue throughout the autumn, especially now that a new “NAFTA” deal is behind US. While the high demand for talent across almost every industry and all functions continues unabated, one need only read the papers to know that the supply has not kept pace. With large corporates such as Microsoft Canada, Intel, Uber and Deloitte Omnia establishing or expanding their presence in the GTA, and ever larger VC funding rounds being announced by the likes of Ritual, Integrate.AI, Kira Solutions etc, the shortage of talent in the areas of artificial intelligence/machine learning and data science is particularly acute.

For senior management, small and medium sized companies are for the first time competing with large corporates for the same talent. Given that the pool of proven senior executive talent is finite (especially in some technology areas, contexts and sizes of businesses) the recruiting challenges for leadership in some companies is significant. And if you think the answer lies in repatriating Canadian talent from the US, think again. US firms have become far more sophisticated in crafting compensation packages that make it very difficult for executives to leave.

Companies must adapt. When capable candidates become available they cannot dawdle. Increasingly, top talent have competing opportunities and companies that fail to move candidates efficiently through a process will pay a price. Far too often we are seeing candidates accepting other opportunities leaving clients empty handed and frustrated. We are not advocating less due diligence but rather efficiency of process.

In large cities such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) congestion has extending commuting times to the point that a company’s location is a material consideration in candidate decisions. Many firms however resist extending support to alleviate commuting times (eg. covering Hwy 407 costs) or to entertain flexible work arrangements. The results are that candidate pools are reduced and recruitment times extended.

Ageism also continues to play out with companies losing out on a highly experienced and capable talent pool with the potential of making considerable contributions. Companies want experience but want it packaged with youth and the drive and energy that they assume accompanies that youth. The more seasoned pool of talent represents a rich, experienced and often no less driven pool of talent that companies would be wise to not dismiss so easily in such a tight labour market. Dividends will flow to those firms with open minds and greater selection rigor.

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