September 2023 | JOLTS, jobs, and java: Our experts take on the latest labor reports

A 15-minute real-time discussion on the July JOLTS report, the August jobs report, and other hot topics in the talent space today.

September 2023 | JOLTS, jobs, and java: Our experts take on the latest labor reports

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Grab a coffee and join us for 15 minutes of real-time insights on the July JOLTS report, the August jobs report, and more with Jason Cerrato, our Senior Director of Product Marketing, and special guest Rebecca Warren, Director of Customer Success.

Kali Figueroa 00:00
Thank you for tuning in to our September jobs talk with Eightfold AI. We have a special guest returning this month while our chief economist is on maternity leave, we’re pleased to welcome back Rebecca Warren, our Director of Customer Success, alongside our Senior Director of Product Marketing, Jason Cerrato. Jason and Rebecca will share real time insights on the jolts report, jobs report and more hot topics and talent today. So grab your coffee, kick back and spend the next 20 or so minutes, listening to what’s currently top of mind for business leaders. With that, I’ll hand it over to you Jason for some jolts jobs in Java.

Jason Cerrato 00:35
Thanks so much, Callie. It’s great to be back first Friday of the month, and it’s September 1. That sounds so weird to come on my mouth. September, where did the year go? So crazy. So happy to have you back with me, Rebecca, you know, we got the jobs report today. We had the jolts report a couple of days ago, it looks like the jobs markets slightly cooling a bit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the job openings in the jolts report, the number of job openings dropped to 8.8 million in July. It’s the lowest number it’s been since March of 2021. And after all the layoffs that we saw at the end of 2022, and beginning of 2023, it seems like things are finally starting to settle down. The unemployment rate ticked up a little bit, but it’s still at 3.8%. So for all of this, it seems like the labor market is still very tight. But things are starting to stabilize. And one thing that I’ve noticed that I keep bringing up with Sonya, our resident economist on such things is that they also reported today that they had to go back into the previous month’s reports and do some revisions. So I think also in the changing nature of how we track jobs, how people work, hybrid, remote, contractor, Statement of Work, these things are also getting harder to track. But at the very least, today’s report was somewhat calming, compared to some previous reports, because a lot of things seem to be very stable and spread out across industries. And we’re heading into the fall. So hopefully, we’re taking this as some positive signs. But much like previous conversations we’ve had, you never know what I mean, what’s your read on this today, Rebecca?

Rebecca Warren 02:16
Yeah, you know, in the marketplace, it does feel like things are starting to settle down. I will say talent acquisition, it’s still rough out there for folks to find the right gigs. You know, we talk about our cyclical. We stopped hiring, we get rid of all of the TA folks, then we say, dang, we need our TA folks back as we start hiring and you go through this just crazy cycle of trying to find, you know, and then trying to find either the same folks or then you have to rehire a whole new group. And then you’ve got to get them trained in and then you’re behind the eight ball. It’s just this crazy thing. I wish we could figure out how to re purpose folks inside of organizations use the skills that they have to get them into other places. It just the for the for TA folks, and this has been happening forever, right? Like, as long as I’ve been in ta that’s the cycle like TA is the first group to go because we’re not hiring, we don’t need them. But the skill set for talent acquisition folks is really versatile. So there’s some challenges still going on in the market for talent acquisition folks to find their next gig, so little rap?

Jason Cerrato 03:27
Yeah, it’s great that you bring that up. I mean, even when things are good, and they’re in the chair, it’s always been an exercise of hurry up and stop, hurry up and stop. But you know, in the last few months, and especially earlier in the year, it was hate to see you go, we need to have you back. hate to see you go we need to have your back. And I think you know, there are some leaders in the industry that are pointing to that happening again, that you have to start 2023, like you said, and a lot of the layoffs, TA and recruiting staff are some of the first people to go. And the prediction is towards the end of the year, there’s going to be a rush for TA and recruiting staff to help ride the wave again.

Rebecca Warren 04:07
Yeah, you know, and that, that leads me to a thought that has come up, I’m starting to read a little bit about it and pay attention. You know, change management has always been a big deal for us at eight fold to make sure that folks get everything they can out of the platform, right when they put it in making sure that folks are ready for it. It is a big change going from probably what they’ve been doing to something that’s, you know, very different using AI and machine learning. The idea that change management can’t just be for projects is starting to come up. Like we need to embed change management into organizations and think about everything that happens through that lens. And if we I think had more of an agile, change management focus throughout organizations, it would be less common to say we’re just going to eliminate a whole entire group of people. And, you know, when you start looking at what does that look like inside your organization on a daily basis, instead of just saying, Oh, well change management lives in our Corp or in part of our PMO, when we start embedding that in every organization, every department, every leaders mind, I think it would be much, I think it would bring a different way of looking at employees and their skill sets and how they could actually serve an organization once they’re in the door.

Jason Cerrato 05:38
I absolutely love that. What a great thought for so early on a Friday morning. I think, you know, that sentiment gives me hope for what I think is happening right now. I think part of the reason why things are stabilizing, but we’re seeing, you know, unemployment not move too much, and layoffs slow down. But job openings, also somewhat stabilized. And I think people are reassessing what they need with their talent mix, and what they can do with their existing talent, to redeploy, and reassign and upskill and do all these different things. Because the nature of the work is changing so rapidly, that the nature of the role and the job and the way people carry out that work is changing, too. So I think, you know, to go along lines with your sentiment around change management, I think, in the past, we’re always working off of reflex, right, and we have these instincts to push certain buttons or, you know, pull certain triggers. And, you know, one of them is always, you know, lay off and higher, lay off and higher. I think now with a tight labor market, people are trying to understand, if I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to need next. I’m also not exactly sure if I don’t already have the talent in my walls, maybe I can look at my talent differently to reassess what they can do. So that way, as my needs become more clear, I don’t always have to go outside with a requisition to hire someone new from the outside.

Rebecca Warren 07:04
Yeah. Well, and you mentioned this a little bit earlier about what it looks like for back to work. And I think most folks know, I have a perspective that I love working remotely, I’d love to be able to work from home. If I have a say in it, which I hope I do, I never want to go back into an office full time. But there’s a lot of organizations that are pushing for either full time in the office, or at least a hybrid work schedule. So I think that fits into what you’re saying is what what’s I think when the when the pandemic kind of rolled, when we started recovering, we say it this way from the pandemic. And we started realizing what the workforce is capability was and what do we want out of our jobs, but also what do people expect out of us? I think, realizing where work can be done, how it can be done, and what actually needs to be done. I think the pandemic did help us ruthlessly prioritize what work was critical. So I think if we can hang on to that, and looking at what work needs to be done, and where, you know, I have some friends who said, Yes, I’m in the office three days a week. And guess what, I’m on Zoom calls the entire time, that does not feel like a good use of my time. So if organizations start looking at, you know, what, what’s the value of the work and where does it need to be done? And how does it need to be done? And does it need to be done by the people who are always doing it? I think that gives more flexibility of where, how, and when people work.

Jason Cerrato 08:40
Yeah, I think, you know, the, the pandemic forced us to change overnight. But that doesn’t mean we knew what to do. And we learned the rules of the road really quickly. We’re still going decided

Rebecca Warren 08:51
to keep those changes, right? We decided like, oh, well, now we’re going to go back to normal. Yeah,

Jason Cerrato 08:58
I think we’re, I think we’re still going through that learning curve. We’re still trying to figure out how to make sense of how we’re going to do this going forward. And you know, the immediate need was to just sustain business. Right, so we figured out ways to get the work done first. I think what came next, you know, in the last year or two has been trying to figure out as a result of doing that work differently, how do we need to manage and lead differently? Yes. And then I think what’s coming next, for the next two or three years is as a result of that, how do we need to learn to strategize and plan differently?

Rebecca Warren 09:34
Yes, I totally agree. I agree. And one of the other things I think that has been of a positive change in the last year or so, is the ruling around non competes. You know, that was always so tough when you think about in the TA space, especially if you were to move from one company to the next. And I have friends of mine who like oh, here comes the lawyers. Because I went to another company, I really liked the idea that it’s opening up a little bit where folks were that employers aren’t deciding where people can work because they’re mad that they left, right, like, again, that change management piece, do what you can to keep your people in your organization’s so you don’t have to worry about trying to claw them back, right or put some kind of regulations on them. So I really like that that non compete. ruling is starting to be less enforced. And it’s easier for folks to use their skill sets to go to other organizations if they choose to. I think that helps a lot where people decide to work,

Jason Cerrato 10:39
and then also potentially go to other industries. So we’ve talked about how people are more freely moving to different industries, they may be staying within their function, but changing moving into a completely different area. And I think all of this speaks to just the tight supply and demand in the labor market.

Rebecca Warren 10:58
Yeah, yeah. And what people want to do, you know, there’s there, there’s a saying that has stuck with me all the time is that, you know, nobody’s going to write on your tombstone, she was amazing at work, right? They’re going to write on they’re talking about, you know, friends or family or she was, you know, a good person, I wouldn’t want to ever want anyone to put on my tombstone. Like, we don’t know, we never saw her because she was always working. So not that work isn’t important. But how do we put that into perspective and allow folks to work in in places and in spaces that energize them, instead of feeling like somebody is chained to a desk, whether it’s the volume of work, or the type of work or location or things like that. So I like that, that there’s more it feels a little bit more equal, that at least folks have more say in where they go. And employee, employers are starting to listen a little bit more.

Jason Cerrato 11:51
Now, I saw another article in the Wall in the New York Times, actually yesterday around temp employment. And it said that temp employment was slowing down. It’s still higher than it was before the pandemic, but temp employment was slowing down on a month by month basis. And part of it was the need for full time talent and the appeal of full time roles in this tightening labor market. But one of the things that was coming through was there was some stats that were provided, and one came from manpower, that said for their people on contract on assignment, the conversion rate from temp to full time has almost doubled as they track that. So again, another factoid around this somewhat stabilizing but also tight labor market.

Rebecca Warren 12:41
Well, there’s always a win. I think when you know somebody’s work style, when they come in as a temp or as a contractor or consultant, it’s always a win to say we know what they are providing they’re comfortable, and being able then to move them into a full time role without having to do the guesswork. So I’ve always seen that benefit of bringing somebody in and make sure it’s a match on both sides, right? You got to see Do they do the work that we need them to do? And do they want to do it right. So that temp space and that conversion, I always think is a smart way to do that. Especially if the conversion usually it’s like after four months, you can convert sometimes for zero fee, or the fee goes down. So I think when there’s that partnership of, you know, we’ll give them a certain amount of time in your organization. And then you can convert them for no fee. It’s a win for everyone.

Jason Cerrato 13:32
And I think that speaks to, you know, one of the strategies that people are deploying using a tool like a fold around total talent, right, getting better visibility to their entire workforce, and looking at who’s already had some exposure to your organization who’s already learned a little bit about how you get work done. And maybe if you are working in office, you know, they know where to go, they know how to find the bathroom, they know all the all the all the ways to get through their day and you don’t have that heavy lift of onboarding and, you know, acclimate and assimilation and acclamation. So, yeah, you know, taking that more total talent approach seems to be somewhat speaking through the data.

Rebecca Warren 14:08
Well, and even thinking about what we’ve done inside of customer success, we had someone from our talent acquisition team who came on over to our team who brings a unique set of skills that we absolutely love. And we’ve also had several folks come out of our professional services group that had been working specifically with clients on implementation or on Managed Services who have come over to Customer Success folks have come out of also out of our support organization and moved into customer success. And you think about the blend of skills that we get the advantage of like, Hey, you already know what it what it looks like to work in ta at eight fold, right? Like how cool is that or you already know what the support organization looks like? Or what professional services does that brings a different blend not just to their particular role, but to our CS team in general, because we all get to take the benefit of their experience and put it together and things that we wouldn’t have had had we not decided to move people internally in a way that we wouldn’t normally say, would be a fit, right? We, if you were to look at a resume, you wouldn’t normally say, hey, that person would be a great fit, but the skill sets and the ways that we’ve already worked with them internally, we’re like, absolutely. We already have our eyes on other people inside the organization.

Jason Cerrato 15:27
Yeah. So I mean, a lot of themes that align with what we’ve been working on here and Eightfold over the last few years. You know, this year, we’ve been talking a lot around role design and talent planning. And I think, you know, maybe some of this stabilization and, you know, having fewer job postings, but fewer layoffs is around organizations, potentially redesigning roles, and figuring out what they need to be. And then putting together a plan using some skills, intelligence, or just better understanding of how the nature of work is changing and putting some of this into play. So all of this aligns with a lot of the topics that came through the data this month, since you’ve taken the time to join us again, for the for this session, was there any other topics that you’ve been paying attention to that are top of mind here on September 1?

Rebecca Warren 16:16
Well, so as, as I think I’ve shared before that diversity, equity inclusion, that space is really important to me. And that’s something that I’ve been involved in for a long time. And I’m actually joining a friend of mine, for a podcast coming up in a couple of weeks. And the title of the podcast that we’re going to chat about, is, is dei dead. And I started thinking about that going, what, like, it’s more important than ever. But as I started looking through some of the research topics, things like that, there’s other people who have actually said that, so like looking at Martin Brown, the chief diversity officer for Virginia said that too. And then when you look at what he’s saying, I’m curious to get your read, where he said, it’s proven that institutions achieve more with a more diverse and inclusive workforce. However, equity has become a tradeoff for excellence. Like, what do you think about that? Like, it just kind of blew my mind a little bit? Like, why like, This can’t be happening?

Jason Cerrato 17:19
Yeah, I don’t like hearing things like that. I mean, it’s always been it’s, it’s always been about finding the best people for the role. And the effort of D. And I was to try to remove barriers to find the best people. Right, right. But when people say have sayings like that, you know, what was the quote, diversity? What was the what’s the podcast? Diversity is dead.

Rebecca Warren 17:40
Yes. Is diversity that Yeah, well, I

Jason Cerrato 17:42
mean, we’ve heard resumes are dead for the last 20 years.

Rebecca Warren 17:47
Wow. I wonder when acquisitions going away. So one of

Jason Cerrato 17:51
my one of my favorite analysts gave a webinar a year or two ago that said, talent acquisition is dead. Right, right. I think none of that none of those things have died. But the way we approach them, and the way we execute them has changed significantly. So maybe what is changing is the way we approach that, I mean, coming from an individual who works for a state, you know, there are a lot of states that have moved towards skills based philosophies, and removing barriers to employment and removing barriers for inclusion. I think it’s a new way of addressing the issue. So I don’t think it’s going away. And I think we’re just addressing it approaching it and executing on it differently.

Rebecca Warren 18:32
Yeah, I think that’s right, I think it probably goes back to what we were talking earlier about change management to is that dei has to become less of a function or less of a separatist activity, and has to be part of that change management and embedded in all parts of your organization. It’s not just taking a training anymore, or, you know, looking at it as a checkbox. But how does it become embedded? And then maybe, it’s maybe the idea, it’ll be interesting for me to unpack this with my friend. Maybe the idea is less about it being a thing, like, maybe it doesn’t need to be a thing, because it’s just part of who organizations are, right? It’s part of their makeup, not a special project that they have to do. Maybe that’s where we’ll, we’ll go, we’ll see.

Jason Cerrato 19:24
And, again, I think, you know, there’s been a been a lot of movement in the field of the and I mean, for years, for years in organizations may not have had a person in the role. And then for years, if they had a person in the role, they were in HR, increasingly, we’re seeing people in that role report to the CEO. Right, and being part of the business and being more embedded in the business versus, you know, contained within HR. So again, I think these things aren’t going away. We’re just getting different tools and a broader view of how to address them. Some of those some of those titles are provocative, but at the very least they get us to think right

Rebecca Warren 19:59
well For sure. And again, moving away from compliance, and more about true inclusion, true understanding of what your workforce is looking for, and what’s important to them. As it becomes embedded, maybe it becomes less critical to call it out specifically as a as a as a project. Yeah.

Jason Cerrato 20:21
I want to ask you a question. I know we’ve talked a little bit about your experience in this space for many years, as have I, were you ever involved in university recruiting? You must have been at one point I was absolutely, yes. So to all those folks out there that are listening to this, I know, September 1, and kind of Labor Day weekend is a key part of the year because this is when University recruiting takes over. And basically you hold on to your hat until Thanksgiving. So just kind of looking at the at the calendar and seeing September 1, for all the folks that are out there getting ready to live out of a suitcase for the next two or three months and go on campus or have events or do all of this recruiting. You know, my heart is with you. Safe travels. And I think a lot of this jobs report speaks to the need to you know, have a very successful and robust fall recruiting season because we’re potentially heading into a turn.

Rebecca Warren 21:14
Yeah, well, and I always loved campus recruiting University, recruiting early careers, that was always fun getting a chance to chat with a completely different population that was just coming into the workforce, and being able to go to some of those events, right. They were exhausting, and exciting and thrilling and tiring all at the same time. So yes, best wishes to all of you who are hitting the job, the job fair scene and starting on your rotations. Hopefully you find all the great people.

Jason Cerrato 21:50
So with that, thank you so much for joining us again, Rebecca. It’s always a pleasure. And we’ll send it back to Cali. Thank you so much. All right.

Rebecca Warren 21:57
Thank you.

Kali Figueroa 21:59
All right. Thank you for joining us today. And thank you, Rebecca, our special guests and as always, Jason for sharing your insights. We hope you’ll tune in again next month for the next jobs talk with April AI See you next time. Bye

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