Bonus Episode: “Her search is starting to feel impossible…”

Bonus Episode: “Her search is starting to feel impossible…”

But just as the market can’t sustain obscene real estate prices, I don’t think the job market will remain so heavily candidate-driven forever either. In the event of a recession, I think we will see the job market change much faster than if we don’t have a recession. To return to my 2008 comparison, if you had a job you could even halfway tolerate at that time, you did whatever you had to do to keep it. The fear of being unemployed and having no options was palpable.
Published on April 4, 2022

It’s like the cliché: history may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme.

We’ve reached the point where workers looking for fully remote positions is higher than available fully remote positions. The competition for those roles is intense. Hiring managers seem to be increasingly stubborn about demanding RTO. I understand this will sound quite cynical indeed, but: who do you think will ultimately win the battle? Workers beleaguered by layoffs and a recession or Corporate America?

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Transcription by  Please forgive any typos!

Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. And today’s episode, I want to talk about what I’m seeing in real time, as well as what we’re finally being allowed to know from various media outlets. Re remote work is dwindling. There are more people who want fully remote work than there are fully remote positions for them. And the competition is getting fierce. I can’t help myself. I’m gonna have to queue him up. Here we go. Sarah was right yet again. Going all the way back to the end of May. When I was interviewed by the Belmont star in an interview they published on June 1, I predicted this exact situation. Obviously, when we make cynical or not so great predictions about things we hope that we’re wrong. In this situation, here we go. The question asked was the great resignation has gotten so much press over the past couple of years. What do you see happening with the big quit my response, I lived through the Great Recession of 2008 to 2010. And it was a tough time. For my experience, whatever you had to do to hang on to your job you did. I understand some people will bristle at that notion, but I’m being as honest as I can be. I think at one point during the great recession, the unemployment rate hit 10%. And it was very troubling, very worrying. The further we go into recession territory, the more likely it is that the great resignation will end. And it may end immediately. If we rapidly careen into a recession. It boils down to basic supply and demand. If there are more people who need or want a job and fewer jobs available to them. Competition for those jobs will become more intense. Elon Musk is apparently not even waiting for a recession or a deep market contraction to occur. He’s already announced that he wants an end to remote work at Tesla. And if you disagree, there’s the door. I believe we will see more companies pushing for RTO in the coming months. Yeah. And here we are. You know, I’ve also suggested that if you have a strong commitment to working from home, please, if at all possible, try to get it in writing in your formal offer letter in your formal job description. It’s not a complete insurance policy. But it’s better than having nothing. As attorneys like to say verbal agreements are worth the paper they’re printed on, which is pretty much zero. Now, full disclosure, I’m not an attorney, and I cannot and will not give you legal advice. If you need further insight on this consult a lawyer. Just speaking from an HR point of view, as well, as someone who’s been a job seeker and an employee before, if you can get it in writing, you have more of a fighting chance than if Sally Sue said in passing. Yeah, sure. We’re gonna be remote forever. Don’t worry about it. Some throwaway conversation, where it’s your word against someone else’s is probably not going to hold up. If at all possible, try to get it in writing. Anyway, back to the point. These remote opportunities are dwindling away. They want you back they want you back. But and see. I don’t know how many more times that I have to say it. It’s it should be at this point becoming very clear indeed. That most of corporate America wants you back in that cubicle farm button see Monday through Friday. And even if they propose a hybrid schedule, I have also predicted that that is merely a stepping stone. It’s a smokescreen. It’s sort of like luring a mouse into a trap with like progressive bits of cheese. Okay, well, you’ll come into the office two days a week, then it’s three minutes, four minutes five. It is very easy in those hybrid models to make the argument of this is not really working. It’s causing more inconveniences and problems than it’s solving. Why don’t we just rip the band aid off and come on back. If you’re already in the office four days a week and you’re you’re allowed your one little puppy treat one little one little day to work from home. It’s very easy for them to say just come on in. You don’t really need to be at home on Monday or you don’t really need to be at home on Friday. Just just go ahead and come on in. We’re ready for it to be 2019 again, so You just go ahead and come all back. Oh, and by the way, if you don’t, it’s your job. Again, I I really wish that I were wrong about all of this I do but it’s it’s bearing out to be true. Over on Axios published on December 4, we find demand for remote jobs outpaces supply the byline reads share of applications and job postings on LinkedIn for remote work. And it shows a graphic which as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, the number of applications versus the number of job postings there’s quite a wide gap there. So by about summertime, maybe or or the early part of the autumn, only 15% of job postings were remote whereas 50% of job seekers that were applying were trying to find remote work. In the article we find applicants want remote jobs. But the number of postings that allow people to work from home is dwindling as companies start to call workers back to offices by the numbers 50% of applications submitted on LinkedIn are for remote jobs. But just 15% of postings are advertising flexible work. So I’m going to butt in here and say flexible work is not necessarily 100% remote. It’s not necessarily work from home all the time or work from anywhere all the time. It could just be like the hell of half measures hybrid. It could be well, okay, we’re gonna allow you to work from home most of the time, but we need you back button seat, X number of days a week or X number of days per month. Sometimes flexible work is not so flexible. Why it matters. The scaling back of remote work policies is among the first and most visible signs of a changing job market The Washington Post’s ABA Butare er BatAAr. I hope I’m saying that right. But Butare writes, I would push back a little bit and say I don’t think that the scaling back of remote work policies is among the first signs of a changing job market. But I’m biased, right? Because I’m in the job market every freaking day, I know how to kind of read the ebbs and flows and the slight ripples. It’s almost like if you’re if you’re a cardiologist and you’re looking at someone’s EKG readings, you may be able to pick up on something very subtle that someone else with an untrained eye would miss. So for me, it’s like no, I started to notice the pulling back quite a bit earlier. And it wasn’t that all of these employers were automatically revoking remote work, it was more so a feeling of general discontent or malaise about it, as well as a financial scaling back, do we really need this project? Do we really need another software engineer? Do we really need another person and accounting? It’s that hesitancy that, like, the FOMO, and the YOLO, and all the insanity that had been 2021, it was almost like, maybe I don’t want to put my hand in the cookie jar right now. Because maybe the cookie jar cookie jar, if I can talk properly, maybe the cookie jar is a mousetrap and I don’t want to get my hand squeezed. That’s what I saw, really as the first sign. I’ll continue to read. Flexibility remains one of the top priorities for employees says Ron dyad, head of economics and global labor markets at LinkedIn. But the balance of power is starting to shift away from workers and back to employers as the labor market shows more signs of cooling down. He says, I predicted that and a post that I wrote on April the fourth when the pendulum swings. I told you this was coming. And here’s the deal. I don’t mind tooting my own horn. I don’t mind telling you I was warning you about this a hell of a long time before anybody else in the mainstream media was there only just now ringing the alarm bell and it’s freaking December. I can’t imagine I mean, if like I said, if if you were someone who was only just now waking up just now looking around as though you’d been in hibernation for all this time. Can you imagine how far behind the eight ball you would feel? Wow. So the article referenced by Axios can be found in the Washington Post and it is titled The Great mismatch. Remote Jobs are in demand but positions are drying up. The byline reads the job market, although still hot, is slowing. And many Americans who had been working from home are being called back into the office, and this was published on November 27, at approximately 6am Eastern Time. In the article we find Laurie Black has been firing off dozens of applications with one goal to land a work from home job. But four months in her search is starting to feel impossible. Positions are in short supply and rejections have been plentiful. It’s been very trying. I keep putting the resume out and sometimes I just feel so discouraged said black 56 who lives near York, Pennsylvania. Now that companies are saying you need to return to work. The job market for work from home positions has gotten very competitive. Yeah, yes as it has indeed, this is another reason why I tried to encourage hiring managers who are just so damn stuck on RTO the world is going to be so much more your oyster, if you continue with work from home policies or work from anywhere policies, you will have so many choices of people if you do that. But as I’ve told you before, you know, all I can do is report to you what I am seeing day in and day out kind of attitudes kind of comments that are being made. And they’re just not about it. By and large, they want people back, and they will be hard headed. Oh, no, we really just want to look at people that are within, say, a 20 mile radius of the office, because we were over remote work, we’re done, we’ve had enough want to go ahead and try to get people back in and 2023 kind of get back to some normalcy. And it’s like, oh, the people who have gotten accustomed to working from home and who enjoy it, it works well for them. And they’ve created their entire domestic infrastructure around working from home. If they haven’t made adequate preparations, if they didn’t see this coming, it is going to feel like one hell of a slap in the face. I’ll continue to read nearly three years into a pandemic that reshaped workplace norms and put the balance of power squarely in the hands of employees, the tides are shifting again. The job market, although still hot, is slowing. And many Americans who had been working from home are being called back into the office that has led to a tug of war between what employees want and what employers are willing to give them. wage increases are plateauing. Didn’t the Fed say that’s what they want. And they wanted that wage growth to quit. signing bonuses are cooling off, and fewer companies are allowing people to work from home than they did even a few months ago. See? Oh, my God, I know I’m the broken record, just hang with me. If you wait to be officially told by some talking head or commentator in the media, in my opinion, you have waited too late. This is how freaking fast things can change in an economic downturn. It can happen in a way that feels to the average American or the average consumer like that, a breath, a whisper and all of a sudden, everything’s different. I mean, for the power brokers know, because they know what’s coming. They know Do you think that the CEOs and the fat cats and the people at the Fed are really mystified by all this? No, no, I don’t think so. But it’s sort of like while we still had people in the mainstream media, we still had recruiters and you know, who knows corporate shills, maybe putting out the message that the great resignation was still full steam ahead. The job market is blazing hot, the unemployment rate is 3.5 or 3.7%. And there are two legitimate open jobs for every one unemployed person. The candidates are still ruling the day in a still a market for them. While all of them were still pushing that hot air and hopium. I knew otherwise. And I got on this podcast and I got on my blog, and I told you otherwise. So here’s the thing. I’m gonna say it again for the people in the back. In my opinion, by the time you are officially told you’ve waited too late. Demand for remote jobs remains near all time highs, even as companies roll back telework positions. 50% of job applications submitted on LinkedIn are for work from home positions, which make up just 15% of listings, according to a recent report from the job site. And then we see the same graphic again. It’s the great remote work mismatch said Rand guide head of economics and global labor markets on LinkedIn, who wrote the recent report. In the past labor mismatches have been about skills now we’re seeing a different kind of mismatch where workers are looking for jobs that offer certain attributes, like the ability to work remotely that employers aren’t willing to offer. Although there are nearly two job openings for every applicant when it comes to on site work on site work see before when we heard all that hot air and nonsense about to open jobs or what unemployed person people are doing right now all that crap. We were not told it was for onsite work. We also were not told that so many of these jobs are in churn and burn high turnover industries anyway, fast food, hospitality, leisure to use the phrase user Come on man. The opposite is true for remote jobs. There are two active applicants for every available work from home job on LinkedIn. That means that the gap between demand for jobs and supply of workers for onsite positions is four times as high as it is for remote work. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and bet that those ratios are probably skewed. I would imagine again based on my own experience chances and what I’m seeing in the job market day in and day out, it’s probably higher than that. I think that the people continuing to look for remote work, it’s probably higher than a two to one ratio. Because when I’m talking to prospects, and by that I mean like prospective candidates, people who may or may not be looking in on the job market. I have not heard a single one of them. Say, I want to be back in the cube farm, but in seat, or my boss has called us all back. We’re back now. And I love it. I’m so glad I came back know, the people that I have interacted with, who have been forced to come back one out. And it’s like, no, if you’re calling to pitch me something that’s hybrid or full time back in the office, I’m not interested. But the minute that you get a beat on anything that’s work from home, call me, please remember me. That does not tell me that people want to go back and sit in the office by and large. Sorry, it just doesn’t. Other job sites are reporting similar trends. And indeed, for example, remote job postings have slowed in recent months, even in tech heavy areas such as software development., meanwhile, saw a 21% spike in job seekers looking for work from home positions between September and October, even as postings for remote jobs declined 6%. The scaling back of remote work policies is among the first and most visible signs of a changing job market. The Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates in hopes of slowing the economy enough to calm inflation. Although the unemployment rate at 3.7% remains near historic lows. Fed officials have said they expect that number to tick up to 4.4% in the next year, which would translate to more than 1 million lost jobs. So if they’re willing to tell you that they think it’s going to tick up to 4.4%. How bad will it really be? What will the real number be? Because in my opinion, right now, it is not 3.7%. It’s just it’s not with all these layoffs and all this turmoil. And all these people supposedly getting blipped off the screen, they got Thanos finger snapped out of the workforce. There’s no way in my mind, I just I cannot make those numbers make sense. I don’t think there’s any 3.7% unemployment rate. I think it’s higher than that already. So when they’re telling you, oh, it’s going to be 4.4% roughly a million people or more unemployed. How bad will it really be? How bad will it really be? There are signs that it’s becoming harder to land a job applicants on LinkedIn in are on average applying to 22% more jobs than they were a year ago. According to a November report from the company, I would butt in and say I would I would wonder if these are people that are laid off people that have no job at all. Because if someone has a job, they feel that it’s stable, especially if it’s remote right now, you’re not no, you can’t hardly pry them out of that job. Trying to get somebody on the phone to talk about switching jobs in the middle of all of this turmoil plus it’s q4 and the holidays are coming up. I mean, I would have to believe that the applicants they’re talking about do not have a job and they need one as soon as possible. I’ve told you before the great resignation from white collar, knowledge work, it’s done and has been done. We aren’t that we are no longer in the era where you could just call any Tom, Dick and Harry and get them on the phone and they would be very laws I fear about their job situation. Not anymore. For now the share of available remote jobs tends to vary widely by industry. Work from home opportunities in sectors such as education, tourism, sports and agriculture have fallen markedly since last year, as schools, gyms and other establishments reopened according to data from zip recruiter. In other areas such as manufacturing, finance and insurance. Remote job listings have plateaued in recent months as businesses and employees navigate broader shifts in the economy. Even so, Julia Pollack, Chief Economist at zip recruiter said it will be difficult for many employers to achieve pre pandemic office attendance rates, even if they want to do so. I don’t think it’s hard. No, excuse me. I do think it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle on this when she said once you hire a remote employee who lives elsewhere, as many companies have, it’s very hard to insist that people who live near the office come in all the time. In many industries, the kind of longer term shifts to remote work, accompanied by investments in technology and disinvestments in commercial real estate are still very much underway in quote. Yeah, but remember, it was economists certain economist So who told us that we would not see mass layoffs in q4? So, me personally do I think that these companies are going to go well, Hill. We’ve hired some remote employees who don’t even live locally. So let’s just don’t have our tip. No, get real. What and Okay, in my opinion, this is just more opium. It’s more feel good, it’s fluffy, and it’s cuddly. And it makes you feel good to think that if you have a remote job right now, and you live way away from headquarters, they’re not going to demand anything. Really. Remember that post, that Orlando miner showed in the video and I read it to you about the people that bought a house away from where they both worked. Now they’ve been called back to RTO. And it’s the commute is an hour and a half each way. So right now they’re having to they’ve gotten a house that was overpriced, and now they’re having to drive three hours all total for their job because of RTO. Do you really think that these bosses that are hard driving for return to the office do you think that they’re gonna sit and consider an employee’s feelings and their commute and their individual care situations? Sure, they will. Of course, they will wink wink. The Coronavirus pandemic abruptly and dramatically reshaped the workplace in early 2020, forcing millions of Americans to work from home at the flip of a switch. For many it was the first time they had worked remotely and they quickly found that telework offered increased flexibility and a Healthier Work life balance. Well, of course, we can’t have it. The peons and the plebs were happy for the first time, once shame. roughly 18% of the workforce, or 28 million Americans worked from home last year compared with 6%. Before the pandemic according to the Census Bureau data. Labor experts and economists say remote work has also opened up new opportunities for people who have traditionally been sidelined from the job market, including working parents, as well as those with disabilities or caregiving duties. Black the job hunter in Pennsylvania, left her administrative assistant job seven years ago to care for sick family members. But after recently seeing her steps on work a computer engineering job from home, she said it occurred to her that she could do something like that to while continuing to care for her sister in law. She has been applying to customer service and administration jobs with little luck. They keep saying there are all these jobs out there. She said. But if you want something you can do from home, there aren’t that many options. Well, yeah, of course, they would just tell this person go get a job in fast food. They’ll get a job at a hotel, go get a job at a restaurant, go get a job at a retail store. That’s what they would tell her like no, look at all these open jobs. You just need to go get one now. nevermind the fact that you’re a domestic caregiver and you have this person that’s depending on you. You just need to go out there and get you a minimum wage job and be happy for the opportunity to do it. Now I wouldn’t do that, right. This is just like the arrogant realtors and mortgage brokers that told me all kinds of hot air and financial bull crap. Now I wouldn’t take out an arm. Now I wouldn’t pay an inflated price. But I mean, you could if you wanted to rules for the but not for me. A growing number of businesses in tech banking and sales have been summoning workers back to the office in recent weeks. Elon Musk promptly ordered all Twitter employees to report in person after taking over the social media platform in late October. He has since backtracked saying exceptional employees can continue working remotely, that’s in parentheses, I would kind of be skeptical about that, because he’s also building like miniature apartments up there with beds. Kind of we’re at the point now where it’s like you don’t even get to go home to sleep just stay here. Meanwhile, US Bank Corp this month began asking corporate workers to begin coming in three days a week. Although performance is still strong. We’re seeing other things erode like collaboration, engagement, and how we demonstrate our culture as one US Bank. Oh, oh, yeah, those there those buzzwords yet again. Collaboration, engagement, company, culture, all these wonderful corporate buzzwords that have absolutely no meaning at all. Oh, you better come on back. Because of these things, these intangible things now, productivity and performance are still strong. But we need you back to hold hands and sing the company song. We need you back so that Suzy cream cheese can bother you at the watercooler and ask you how your weekend was how’s your husband and your kids? How’s everybody doing? Right, okay. Being in the office won’t solve this at once, but it can and will help home. I’m sure I’m sure. low wage workers have traditionally been shut out of remote opportunities, women and minorities to devalue remote work most highly according to Polycom zip recruiter, although they tend to work in sectors such as nursing, teaching, retail and housekeeping, where such opportunities are typically few and far between. As a result, economists say low wage workers who want to work from home often have limited options and may be less likely to receive pay increases and other perks and their onsite counterparts. I predicted this too. I told you that was coming down the pike as well. In a blog post titled The great resistance may cost you which I published on July 4 of this year. I saw this coming, I wrote, it seems that there’s two potentials bubbling up work from home but accept a pay cut to do so RTO and go back to but in seat at the cube farm. To be honest, I feel like the first option will eventually bleed into the second one. I’m sorry, I hate to sound like er. But that’s what I see coming further down the line. Here we are. Here we are. I could play the hype man again. But instead I’ll just say I told you so I warned you that this was growing. Demand for remote. Hourly work has been brisk at LiveOps a Scottsdale Arizona firm that hires contractors for customer service jobs at national retailers, insurers and health care companies. Applications from people who are applying on their own and not because of an online ad have risen 67% from a year ago. According to Chief Executive Greg Hanover. We’re seeing pretty significant growth. He said people want to work on their own terms. They want flexibility. Why this is so flippin hard for these arrogant stubborn hiring managers to get I don’t know. But it is. With Remote Jobs becoming less available. Those who have them say they’re inclined to hold on to them. Mm hmm. Told you so in St. Louis in Shrout makes about 30 cents per minute fielding calls from home for a health care company. He took on the remote position as an independent contractor in April 2020. Shortly after losing his in person sales job at Sprint. Shroud hasn’t gotten a raise since he took the job nearly three years ago, but said he’s saving gas money by not having to commute. And truth be told, I hate to put words in this person’s mouth. But truth be told he probably loves being at home and having the privacy not having to commute not having to deal with being in a freakin office. Oh, look, oh, here we go. The next paragraph. Now that I’ve started working remotely, it’s definitely what I prefer, said Shrout 25, who also works part time in a Walmart store. If I want to work in pajamas, I can. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I can work around that there’s a lot more flexibility and quote, also the end of the article. You’re done go. I’ve said before I never ever, ever, ever want to go back into a bullpen? A cube farm and office environment. I don’t. I just don’t I sometimes I look back on it. And I don’t know how I survived it. But I think part of this idea of okay the genies out of the bottle is that so many people who never had the opportunity before have had the opportunity to try it out now. And to suss out how it worked for them or it didn’t were there kinks in the water hose that needed to be smoothed out in order for the water to flow what what needed to happen. And now that as that individual said, Okay, if I want to work in pajamas, I can if I have a doctor’s appointment, then I can be flexible in my work around that appointment. Now that people have had that those of us like myself who really love flexibility, and the also the ability to have some peace and quiet and to focus. For me that has been huge. The distractions and the insanity and the bullcrap meetings where nothing really got accomplished, or nosy coworkers coming by for a stop and chat, I get that they may have been trying to be friendly. They didn’t have any malicious intent. But then when you look at the amount of time it takes to get your focus back and get back in the groove, you waste so much time during the day with activities that really don’t move the ball forward. They’re not helping you on your project or helping you with your with the tasks that you have to do. They’re just huge time wasters. I feel like I’ve been sounding the alarm bell for a while now. The most I can say at this point is if you value work from home, if you value work from anywhere and being able to be in your pajamas or athletic clothes or whatever not having to deal with Sally Sue at the watercooler if you haven’t developed a survival plan, what am I going to do if remote work gets to a point where there are very few positions left. Have you thought about that? I understand that that sounds negative. I understand that sounds like super duper er. But preparation is important, like GI Joe knowing is half the battle, do you have some idea of how you would handle that and what you would do. Not everybody wants to be self employed. Not everybody can or would carry their own benefits, and then take on all the risks that come with self employment, and sometimes the feast famine cycles, and not always knowing where your next check is going to come from. Not everybody wants to do that. Not everybody’s built for it. And I respect that. So if you are going to be a full time w two employee for someone else have you thought about your game plan. If you are working for a boss that just all of a sudden one day, they send a message out saying as of X date, we want you all back button and see. If you don’t like it, you can self select out the door. Have you thought about how you would handle that? I predicted all of this. And now it’s here. As I said in an article I wrote yesterday, it’s the here and the now. And I think naivete burying your head in the sand are getting this attitude of Well, that happens to other people, but it doesn’t happen to me. Doing that will come at too high of a price. I hope I am wrong. But I would really encourage you to wargame out some strategies. It’s free of charge to sit down with a marker and a dry erase board or a pencil and a sheet of paper and just get some ideas going. In the meantime, stay safe, stay sane, and I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.

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