Headlines suggest the job market is tight, and both employers and employees are nervous. Credit Union Times asked executive recruiters about the impact of today's job market on credit unions.
Mike Juratovac, chief operating officer at O'Rourke, Mitchell & Associates, described the situation as "extremely tight." Last year the effect was felt at mid-level positions in branches and mid-management. Responsibilities were reshuffled, and positions weren't necessary refilled, he said.
"I think the real impact has come in recent months. Prior to that, we certainly had a lot of credit unions hunkering down to weather the economic storm. But there were still a lot of credit unions who were well-capitalized, who had positive earnings, and were looking for new and innovative ways to better serve their members," he said.
"There is a degree of paralysis right now, waiting to see what will happen. When key positions open up at the executive level, I think some people are dragging their feet on filling those positions in an effort to manage expenses. We're certainly seeing a slowdown in leadership transition. We've had several searches scheduled to launch this year that have been pushed off to 2010."
But if a credit union does want to hire someone, aren't there a lot of applicants?
Actually, Juratovac responded, it can still be tough to find top talent. There are dual-income families worried a spouse may not be able to find another job if one of them accepts a new position. There are people underwater on their mortgages concerned about selling their homes. There's uncertainty about moving to a new work situation where you don't have tenure.
There is indeed a wave of bankers looking for a more secure environment, but they don't necessarily understand credit union core values, Juratovac said. The bottom line from the employer's viewpoint is you still have to work hard to find top-tier candidates. There's a lot of caution on both sides. Employers have put the brakes on incentives. Employees are grateful to have a job.
Even so, "We would certainly caution our clients not to shortchange themselves by reducing their compensation structure. To retain top talent you still have to be competitive. The positions that are coming to the table are critical. Opportunities will continue to surface. We're starting to see a little more activity."
Steve Swanston, executive vice president of business development at John M. Floyd & Associates, basically agreed.
"There are still opportunities for qualified people," he said. "Those credit unions that are working a proactive plan for growth and member service have to address their critical needs."
At the same time, "there are a lot of contractions. Competition for available jobs is very high. It's a matter of making yourself stand out in the marketplace and trying to ferret out those positions that are out there. Obviously, there are not as many as there were two years ago."
The change from an employee's market to an employer's market has been particularly abrupt over the past six to nine months, Swanston indicated. Employees seeking a new job must be realistic. Ups and downs continue, and employees should look for options that will offer long-term growth.
"We will slowly cycle out of this market," Swanston predicted.
He noted that opportunities vary depending on the specific job. Tellers are always needed. Moving up into operations and mid-level positions, there is demand for people who fit into workout specialist slots. At more senior levels, data indicates 60% of top managers will retire in the next nine years.
"Current conditions could put a blip in that time frame because the economy may put a hold on some people's plans to retire. But that doesn't change the big picture that over the next several years there is going to be very large number of senior and executive management retiring," Swanston said.
From the employer's perspective, they may currently receive five or ten times the number of applicants for a given position as they saw a couple years ago. But that means the employer must sort through those applicants and identify the ones who will actually bring value to the credit union.
Job seekers should realize the typical r?sum? is initially screened in 12 seconds. So you have to stand out. The style of resumes has changed, Swanston said, with a lot of emphasis on submitting resumes through the Internet. The style has to appeal electronically.
"Resumes look a lot different on a computer screen than when they're printed out on paper," he noted.
"Research is critically important. There's no excuse not to know about the credit union to which you're applying for a job. Visit a couple branches. Identify the skill sets the specific credit union needs."