It seems logical that when unemployment is rising in a particular market, whether that is a city, country or industry, then it must be easier to recruit quality talent... or is it? In Australia at the moment we have seen a steady rise in the unemployment rate over the last year, although the rate remained unchanged in December. Is it easier to recruit now than in 2013? Some would say it's Murphy’s Law that employers are never hiring the people who are on the market, but simple supply and demand suggests that those individuals in the least demand are those who are going to be most readily available in the job market. If you are looking to hire the best possible person for your role, then you would have to be extraordinarily lucky to enter the market at the same time as the best talent.
Probably a better measure of the availability of talent is confidence. The best talent is nearly always employed in a role unless personal circumstances, such as migrating from cities or internationally, affects their ability to work. If talent has confidence in taking the risk of changing jobs, then the availability of this talent increases. So, in best times, sought-after talent is more available, and in the worst of times, then it will be harder to shift this talent from the comfort of secure, existing employment. Therefore, counter-intuitively, when unemployment is rising and consumer confidence is falling, finding the best talent will be even harder. In Australia today, we have rising unemployment and improving confidence, both evident in the last quarter. If you are looking to hire staff right now, you will have great success for hiring low skilled staff but will face a mixed market when hiring highly skilled individuals.
The best talent is receiving mixed signals, such as low interest rates and rising house prices, and yet unemployment is on the rise. I am biased, but I would recommend engaging a recruiter to ensure you can access the skills required to convince the best talent that your role is worth examining and that your role can be considered in the context of the greater job market and opportunities outside your organisation. In short, recruitment is not as easy as it first looks, and simplistic assessments of the market are flawed when you are in the people business.