Learning together through
experience and insights

Navigating the labor shortage part III: What it means for professionals

By: Paul Villella

It’s been called “The Great Resignation” by some. A talent shortage by others. Global labor market data company Emsi has deemed it the “sansdemic” (“sans” meaning without and “demic” meaning people). Regardless of what you call it, this labor shortage is real, and it’s built upon lasting, foundational issues.

This article is the final in a series of three discussing and addressing this talent shortage and the cross-section of hiring demand versus labor supply. We examined the underlying reasons why we are facing such an unprecedented labor shortage in part one. Part two discussed what this talent shortage means for employers. Now, we’re going to look at how it’s affecting professionals.

Burnout Be Gone

This talent shortage did not appear overnight. To review, many baby boomers retired and are continuing to do so; attitudes shifted and brought to light foundational issues that existed long before the pandemic.

This whole situation has never been about people not wanting to work. It is simply that many professionals saw an opportunity to take a break and de-stress, sometimes for the first time in their professional lives, and took advantage of that chance. 

We can see that the statistics simply do not support the notion that people don’t want to work, too. Baby boomers, for instance, who retired during the pandemic are now beginning to return to work, even if in a limited capacity, to bolster their retirement plans.

People do want to work—they just want to do so knowing that they will maintain a healthy work/life balance, avoid burnout and continue working towards their personal goals while pursuing their careers.

It’s All About Leverage

Professionals today have an unprecedented amount of leverage they can use to further their career goals. With too few professionals to fill the openings created by a record number of baby boomers retiring, this leverage isn’t set to disappear any time soon.

Whether you are returning to work from a pandemic-induced career break or are looking to make a career change, you have more options than you did in the past. This is especially true as remote work has become a viable working situation.

Many professionals actually prefer remote options, and more and more organizations are becoming increasingly willing to pursue remote work, both as an organizational strategy and for the right talent.

Ultimately, the current hiring climate—one where professionals are increasingly valued and are seeing this value within themselves—could prove to be vital to professionals as they leverage their opportunities and work to achieve their career goals.

A Note on Workforce Disparities

When we write these pieces, it is easy and often necessary to focus on generalities. We’re looking at job statistics as a whole and working to better understand how we can all navigate this unique hiring market.

However, we cannot forget that the pandemic disproportionately affected marginalized communities, including women and people of color.

We don’t want this series to seem like we’re ignoring that fact, and we know that there are unique challenges that these groups face. 

Thankfully, it seems that the rest of the labor market is beginning to recognize the work that needs to be done. Amazon recently announced new initiatives to help working mothers return to work and an increased commitment to diversity and inclusion.

However, these initiatives need more attention and support, especially as reports show that more work needs to be done to better implement these initiatives and uplift diverse professionals within various organizations.

How organizations continue to develop and implement these plans of action and how effectively we as communities continue to support those who have been overwhelmingly negatively impacted by the pandemic will dictate how we collectively move forward. 

How Should Professionals Respond?

In an era where professionals are more empowered than they’ve ever been, now is the time to consider your career goals and growth. Just as employers must evaluate and reconsider their organizational structures, professionals must also conduct some self-reflection.

You don’t need to go out and become a zen master, but you should take some time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. After all, there are fewer external limitations to making a career switch now than there have been in the past. 

Resume gaps are becoming less of a hiring issue, and, while experience still plays a role for mid-level and senior-level positions, companies are placing more value on candidates’ skills. 

With more than 10 million available positions across industries as of this writing in January 2022, now is the time to consider where your skills and experience intersect to best fuel your career growth. 

This is an absolute opportune time for professionals, but do not let this information inflate your ego. Remember: employment is still a two-way street. You have necessary, in-demand skills that employers are actively searching for, but those employers still provide the opportunities for you. 

It is vital to ensure that you are handling your job search with the professionalism and seriousness it demands. Take this time to leverage your opportunities and skills, while maintaining and building relationships. Doing so will only help to enhance your career in the immediate and distant future.


Visit our site to stay to review this series and to find more news and insights about the hiring market.

If you’re struggling to navigate this labor market but aren’t sure where to turn, get in contact with us. We have the professional expertise and requisite knowledge to help you leverage your opportunities and navigate this unique job market.

Prepare to gain perspective
through education