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Lowest Unemployment in 53 Years: No One Will Accept My Job Offer. Help!

Dear Stephen, 

With unemployment at its lowest rate since 1969 and a shortage of workers, I’m having a very difficult time getting candidates with experience in our industry to say “yes” to a job offer.

I get that there are mixed signals with what’s happening in the economy and the job market today. All we read about are thousands of employees losing their jobs at Facebook, Twitter, Google, Salesforce, Dell, PayPal, IBM, now Disney… these headlines read “recession – hungry employees looking for work!” 

I run an ad, or even hire a recruiter, and I’m smacked in the face with the same reality check; what I’m reading in the news has nothing to do with what’s going on in the Interior Furnishings industry.

My friends who are in the residential furnishings industry say that they’re still in the COVID bubble of people buying tons of outdoor furniture, sprucing up their homes with new carpeting and furniture, and those of us in the office furniture business see that leases are still being signed and that office furniture is still being bought.

Headlines about massive layoffs and recessions are “fake news,” for now, if you’re in the office furniture biz.

I don’t want to train a Facebook employee, or Google or Disney for that matter. It’s not going to work for me, and of course it’s highly improbable. How do I get an experienced person from one of my competitors to come work for me? How do I get a good candidate to say yes to my job offer? 


Need Employees ASAP

Dear ASAP, 

The news of layoffs and a looming recession have given a lot of employers a false sense of confidence that they are back being the boss of the hire again. In our industry, that’s simply not true.

We’re inundated in the media with mass layoffs at lots of companies. And yes, we’ve only had a small handful of layoffs in our industry. But they dwarf in comparison to Silicon Valley, Media, or Banking. It’s not to say that it won’t happen, but today, and for the rest of 2023, I predict it will continue to be a candidate’s market in the interior furnishings industry. 

Whether you do it on your own or if you hire an independent recruiter, the secret is always the same today. Which is, to get an employee to “yes,” or to attract a top performer with a “book of business” to come to your company, it all comes down to the base. The base, the base, the base. Salary, that is. 

When customers tell me they have a great incentive program but a tiny base salary, I simply roll my eyes. The only people that roll their eyes even more are the candidates. You want a hunter? Then pay for a hunter!

The candidates are just as nervous about the future of the economy as you are, and they want you to put your money where your mouth is. Pay them a higher base and lower the commission if that’s what it’s going to take for you to get the base higher. 

This should be obvious, but for some reason, manufacturers and dealers alike, like to low ball the base salary. You own or run the business; you need to absorb the risk.

Don’t blame HR. Don’t blame your company. Because if you want to keep your job as a hiring manager, you need to educate and advocate to your superiors that you need higher bases to attract superior talent. In other words, rock the boat a little bit. Tell your bosses what I’m telling you: bigger budgets for higher base salaries or no hires. 

Hey! There is an alternative, of course. You could always hire a former Microsoft person and train them how to sell office furniture – at least they’d already know how to use Office 365!

Sincerely yours,