Employers Are Hiring Again

BY Kathy Crosett
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Employers are hiring again as suggested by the 6.2% unemployment figure released by the Labor Department last week. The economic downturn has been particularly challenging for a few specific sectors, but even those businesses see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the best ways to increase revenue is to hire an ace salesperson. But as the economy improves, businesses will face increased competition for the best sales talent.

Unemployment is Easing

The latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates employers added more jobs than expected in February. Unemployment rates vary by race, gender and ethnic group:

  • Men 6.0%
  • Women 5.9%
  • Whites 5.6%
  • Black 9.9%
  • Latino 8.5%
  • Asian 5.1%

In addition, the data shows that for workers with a four-​year degree, the unemployment rate is less than 4.0%. That number suggests a tightening labor market for in-​demand talent. 

The challenges you face in hiring a good salesperson also correlate to how quickly the recovery has happened in your industry. Businesses in manufacturing and residential construction are humming along at pre-​pandemic levels. The growth in e‑commerce has also driven a boom in warehousing, storage and logistics businesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows food services and drinking places added 286,000 jobs last month, another strong indicator that employers are hiring again. And while the restaurant sector will need a long time to reach pre-​pandemic employment levels, Nela Richardson, an Automatic Data Processing economist, notes, “[Consumers] may be not willing to fly off on an airplane but appear more willing to dine in at a neighborhood restaurant.” 

The positive signs don’t stop there. Now that consumers are being vaccinated and restrictions are being lifted, nonhospital health care services businesses are expanding. After contracting by 15% last March, employers are hiring again in this sector. Employment stands at less than 4% below where it was at this time last year. 

Richardson also believes that businesses will add another 500,000 jobs in March 2021, especially in the service sector. The increase in service sector employment will likely benefit workers who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-​19 outbreak. ADP data suggests that of the 35,000 jobs added at franchised businesses in February, 30,000 were filled at restaurants.

How to Hire Your Next Sales Rep

Analysts also believe one reason the economy struggled to recover from the Great Recession in 2018–2019 was because the federal government was too slow to get economic stimulus checks into the hands of consumers. At this point, the government seems determined to avoid making that mistake again. The government’s fast action, combined with pent-​up demand from the lockdown, means consumers are ready to spend. As they do, businesses must be ready to deliver a great customer experience. That expectation will require businesses to have great sales reps on their staff.

If you rush into this decision and hire a sales rep who doesn’t work out, you could end up paying out over a year’s salary for no productivity. How does that happen? Consider that it takes three months to hire a new rep and another six months to train them. Our research shows the typical manager then needs another seven months to ease the poorly performing rep out of the organization. During that period of time, little or no selling gets done by the rep.

Employers Are Hiring

You can avoid financial and organization disaster by using a comprehensive sales skills assessment to identify the candidates who will best fit with your organization. The results of these assessments show you the true strengths of each candidate. This information includes insight into how an individual is likely to behave on the job and how they’ll interact with you, their co-​workers, and your customers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity the recovery will bring by hiring the wrong sales reps.