As a result of the current economic environment in Alberta, hiring practices have significantly shifted as employers find ways to manage through the slowdown. We talked Sean Fitzgerald, B.Ed., CHRP, owner of KEGLI HR Consulting Services Ltd., to discuss things you should know and consider when looking for a job in the current hiring environment.
Sean, thank you for chatting with us. Can you tell us a little about your consulting firm and what you do?
Basically, KEGLI HR Consulting Services works with companies on building and executing their Human Resources strategies. I currently work with 15 companies in the Alberta market – mostly Edmonton-based – on particular projects, but also occasionally subcontract myself to fill a positional need. Previously, I was VP of HR with Flint Energy Services and URS Corp.
As an HR Professional, what are the current economic conditions and how is that affecting employment rates and hiring practices?
In Alberta – and within the prairies overall – I am definitely seeing the impact of the drop in price of oil. Even industries that aren't directly servicing the oil and gas market are typically experiencing a slowdown or predicting a slower year than 2015. Companies are still hiring, but they are doing it very selectively.
It has definitely shifted in the last 12 months from an employee's market to an employer's market. Where there would be a handful of applications at this time last year for a role, there are hundreds vying for that same role now.
Are they any areas/industries that seem to be managing through the current economic environment better than others?
I know of a number of companies locally in Edmonton that are still hiring, albeit in a cautious manner. They are not specific to an industry necessarily, but these companies are continuing on with their plans for growth by adding key positions. They see this as an ideal time to ‘top grade’ and hire available ‘A’ players where they may have a ‘C’ player in that role now.
You've discussed hiring practices focusing on finding top grade employees, but what kind of practices do HR departments do to retain employees the company may already have?
Most companies are being forced to lower their cost structure to remain competitive and viable. For employees, that may mean a rollback in wages, reduction in pension or benefits, or less perks and variable pay opportunities.
Are there any recommended resources that ASET Members can access to help them improve themselves?
In all seriousness, everyone should read the book Who Moved My Cheese. It is very important that we adapt to the market conditions and realize that people who sit by the phone waiting for a phone call for the ideal job will likely be waiting for a while. This is the time to take a job and be less concerned about pay/benefits/perks and more concerned about building your resume and your credibility in an organization.
As far as other resources, I am a believer that we should always be reading or learning more, so I would be selecting business books that interest you. It is always helpful in an interview if you can refer to a business book you are reading and why you selected it. It shows initiative, a willingness to learn and continuously develop. If I had to pick one I would say read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I have read it multiple times and I take a different lesson from it each time.