A candidate being pursued

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Q: Two years ago I landed a job.  It’s ok.  I don’t love it and I don’t hate it.  However since January, 2017, I am getting calls from headhunters almost every week.  What is this all about?  Some are discussing some pretty generous compensation packages.  Can you comment on the current market?  I live about an hour outside of Boston (northwest).

A:  It is an employee’s market right now.  The unemployment rate in Massachusetts is just over 3%, hovering between 3.2% to 3.4% in early 2017.  Massachusetts continues to have a lower unemployment rate compared to the US rate, which is just around 5% in early 2017.  In 2016, new jobs were added in construction, professional, scientific services, education and health care, leisure and hospitality.

The labor market for qualified workers in Massachusetts has become tighter.   Smart employers will look at their hiring strategies and adapt them to become quicker, more responsive and more creative.

Candidates are beginning to see multiple offers when just two years ago, one offer was a welcome site.  Employers need to move more quickly.  We are seeing more candidates drop out of the selection process because they have accepted an offer from an employer who was quicker and more nimble than our client.

A tightening labor market also puts pressure on compensation levels.  Employers may feel more pressure to evaluate compensation levels to attract and retain the best talent.

Smart employers are differentiating themselves from other employers by offering different benefits like flexible work arrangements or additional benefits.  Employers are also soliciting feedback from employees, through surveys, focus groups or exit interviews.  We hear it every day – the process to apply online for employment is a labyrinth for some candidates.  An employer’s online application system should be easy to use, intuitive and encourage candidates, not frustrate candidates.  One simple step employers can take — act quickly.  Although employers want to be thorough and thoughtful, once a strong candidate is identified, move quickly!  Those who hesitate are often losing candidates.  I have several employers welcoming employees with gifts, everything from chocolates to a basket of office supplies.

You are seeing it firsthand as a candidate.  If I had a crystal ball, I predict that you will not be with your current company one year from now.  You are the ideal candidate to recruit right now.  You are not completely engaged with your current company and therefore easier to recruit for a new position.

Employers – take notice!

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.