Job seekers wait in line to have their resumes reviewed during a job fair in San Francisco.
Job seekers wait in line to have their resumes reviewed during a job fair in San Francisco. - 
Listen To The Story

After years of job seekers scrambling to boost skills and update resumes to get a job, the tables are turning. Falling unemployment means employers now have to step up their game to recruit and retain workers.

Tony Lee, vice president and head of talent acquisition at the Society for Human Resource Management, spoke with Marketplace about the change. Here are four key takeaways about how a tight labor market affects hiring. 

1. You don't have to be perfect. "Companies are scrambling to try and find the right people for the right positions," Lee said. "A lot of companies are realizing they're going to have to change their standards a little bit ... where they might have been looking for the perfect candidate before, now good might be the substitute for perfect."

2. And that means big changes for traditional onboarding. Companies are spending more time and more money recruiting and training new employees. Usually, someone starting a new position would be new to the company, but not the job. Now, Lee said, businesses might hire someone who's worked with a related or corollary skill and "invest six weeks, eight weeks, maybe six months, to get this person up to speed so that they're really good at what they do."

3. Businesses are also doing more to reach out to and accommodate job candidates who might have been excluded in the past. That means more opportunities for formerly incarcerated citizens, older workers, working parents and caregivers, disabled workers and veterans. "When companies have a hiring need and it becomes acute, all of a sudden, a lot of the old stereotypes and biases fade away, because need outweighs everything else," Lee said. 

4. Talent retention is even more important than ever. And businesses are doing more to keep current employees in their jobs by offering more competitive wages, benefits and flexible schedules.

Lee said companies that can't or won't adapt are in for some serious competition.

What's your experience with the tight labor market? Has it affected your job search? Let Marketplace Weekend know how it's changed employment for you. You can reach the team at

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kimberly Adams at @KA_Marketplace