Is it an employer’s market or an employee’s market? As a recruiter for Garment Industry jobs what are we noticing?
I have noticed a very diverse trend dependent on the specialty of the role when looking at garment industry jobs. Some roles clearly are flooded with good potential candidates and other roles are extremely limited. I know that if I was starting over again I would steer away from specializing in Merchandising and would probably focus on something more technical. Why? Quite simply Merchandising is the one area where the market is flooded with candidates. When I advertise a role within merchandising I can expect hundreds of applications and most from people who have more than adequate experience to do the role. However, when I am advertising a technical role I have very few applicants and even fewer who match the requirements of the employer. It was exactly the same when I was working in the industry and not just an observation through our recruitment business. The same applies to roles such as Pattern Technicians, Mechanics and Industrial Engineers, there are limited numbers of experienced candidates. Rather oddly considering that there are few truly technical candidates there are many people involved in the Quality functions and again when advertising these roles we will receive a very high level of good applicants.
So, when the market is flooded with candidates what happens? If you have a hundred candidates all with the required knowledge and experience then the value of the role becomes diminished and the salary offered will be less than it could be, a simple case of supply and demand reducing the cost. Therefore many roles will pay less than a candidate believes they are worth and to be honest probably less than they really are worth. In a time when costs to a manufacturer are of paramount importance as no one wants to pay more for their clothes, then it makes sense for an employer to pay as little as will be accepted. This helps them remain as competitive as possible in the market.
The same applies to the packages available, if you go back 15 years, companies would offer massive incentives for people to move abroad to work – multiple flights home per year, education for the candidates children paid etc. Now this is happening much less except in some very specialist or senior areas. Why would you pay these additional costs when there is another candidate who will do the job to the level you need who doesn’t demand these costly benefits.
In conclusion, as a general rule we are now looking at an employer’s market for garment industry jobs except in a few specialist roles. Have patience, trends tend to be cyclical and the good times for employees may yet return. If you can’t be patient, consider refocusing your career in to an area where there are limited candidates, it may reap dividends in the end!