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Nicole Davidson says she first noticed something amiss this past summer when successful candidates for her quickly growing recruitment and human resources firm started to decline job offers.

While candidates had turned down offers in the past, Ms. Davidson, founder and chief executive of Beacon HR, said this time things were different. Not only was it happening more frequently, but when she asked candidates why they chose to go in a different direction, they often cited other job opportunities.

In an effort to get to the root of the problem, Ms. Davidson started asking potential hires whether or not they were simultaneously pursuing positions elsewhere. “Every single candidate that we spoke to was actively interviewing at at least one other company,” she said.

The aggressiveness she saw in the job market wasn’t limited to new hires, either. “Previously, my team would get headhunted once in a while, but two years ago the landscape was totally different,” she said, adding that even new hires who have only been on the job a few months are receiving offers from competitors. “I just assume my team is being headhunted all the time now.”

In response, Ms. Davidson says she’s refined her organization’s employer brand and recruitment program, put additional resources behind employee health and wellness programs, added a competitive benefits package that includes unlimited paid vacation, and sought to build a stronger internal culture. She’s also worked to significantly reduce the time it takes to present successful candidates with an offer.

Thus far Canada has remained relatively immune to the effects of the “Great Resignation” that is disrupting businesses of all shapes and sizes south of the border, but there are now indications that the trend has reached Canadian shores. One early indication that the talent marketplace is getting more competitive in Canada can be found in Ms. Davidson’s industry. According to the latest LinkedIn data, there are currently more than 14,000 open positions for recruiters in Canada; and roughly 750 new positions posted each day.

“I’ve been in this industry since 2006, and this is one of the toughest phases to find qualified recruitment professionals, because the market is so fierce,” said Mike Shekhtman, regional director of Robert Half Canada. That’s a massive indicator that companies are looking to add staff in a big way, he said.

The fierce competition for recruitment professionals, however, isn’t the only sign that Canada might be heading toward a major talent crunch. According to a survey conducted by Robert Half Canada, 28 per cent of Canadian professionals plan to look for a new job in the first half of 2022, up from 21 per cent six months prior. That jumps to 40 per cent among millennials, or those aged 25 to 40. Perhaps most concerning for employers, however, is that 19 per cent feel confident enough to quit their current job before securing another role.

“Overall, the appetite for hiring is strong,” Mr. Shekhtman said. “There’s going to be continued pressure on employers, because the challenges of finding people will not ease; if anything, it will increase.”

While employees are expressing greater interest in changing roles, employers are expressing a greater need for qualified talent. According to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for 2022, half of all Canadian employers intend to increase their staffing levels in the first three months of the year.

“Is it because they lost good people who have moved on? Or is it really because of organic growth in the business?” asked Darlene Minatel, the country manager for ManpowerGroup Canada. “It’s probably a combination of both.”

Ms. Minatel adds that the data represent the most aggressive talent marketplace she’s seen in Canada in her 30-year career, and believes the country is only a few months behind the labour market trends seen in the United States. While the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics tracks resignation rates in the United States, there are no similar insights available in Canada.

“We don’t have the data, so it’s anecdotal based on what we experienced and based on what our clients experienced,” she said. “We’ve seen some organizations that are experiencing 30-per-cent turnover, some were 25-per-cent, some were 40, but it’s in the double digits, and we’ve never seen that, ever, in my experience.”

Ms. Minatel said that the country was already experiencing a talent shortage prior to 2020, and as seen in the United States, the pandemic has only served to exacerbate the problem.

“I don’t see this going away,” she said. “It is definitely an employee’s market, and it’s going to be an employee’s market for a very long time.”

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