As Tolstoy famously said, “The strongest of all warriors are
these two – time and patience.” On the tail end of fighting through
the longest recession in the memories of most alive today, time has
brought about many changes. In the first quarter of 2009, more than
2 million jobs disappeared. On March 6, 2009, the Dow closed at
6626 and by the end of the year unemployment had risen to 10
percent. In the first quarter of 2012, more than 600,000 jobs were
added, the Dow reached over 13000 points and unemployment nearly
fell below 8 percent.

“People experience recessions in such slow motion that they
don’t realize how far things have come. The economy came out of
recession three years ago, but it’s left a residue on our
perceptions,” says Rob Romaine, president of MRINetwork. “When
faced with vacancies, managers still fall back on the recessionary
mindset of the candidate pool being plentiful, though even in the
depths of the recession that wasn’t necessarily true for many types
of roles.”

The professional and managerial unemployment rate fell to 3.7
percent in April, its lowest point since 2008. While the rate fell
to below 2 percent before the recession began, the current level is
quickly approaching so-called “full employment.”

“A tightening labor market, though, isn’t the entire story.
While 3.7 percent of professionals may be out of a job today, as
you layer on specific qualifications, backgrounds, or years of
experience, the number of candidates actively seeking a job can
drop to virtually zero,” notes Romaine.

The poor hiring environment for college graduates over the last
several years also creates a new challenge. A recent survey by
CALinnovates showed 70 percent of companies were planning to hire
college graduates in the coming year, up 26 points from 2011,
indicating just how poor graduate hiring was during the

The recession disproportionately derailed or delayed the careers
of people who graduated college as early as 2005. Now, as employers
are trying to hire lower-middle managers-those with between five
and ten years of experience-they will be hiring from this
significantly diminished population. The long shadow of the
recession will be seen in a deficiency of talent availability for
at least another decade.

At the same time, Baby Boomers are no longer delaying retirement
at the rate they were three years ago. This vacuum at the top is
helping to pull talent who had established careers prior to the
recession up the corporate ladder, but is exacerbating the donut
hole that currently ranges from about one to six years of

“Even if the economy was at a standstill, the world never
stopped moving and generations continued to age. Babies who were
born when the recession began will be entering first grade this
fall,” notes Romaine. “There is never a bottomless pool of active
talent in the first place, but the recession has made it so that
whatever pool there currently exists is only likely to get

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