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A Great Backlash?

The Great Resignation received a lot of attention during the pandemic. Employees and job seekers seemed to have power and control in ways perhaps never seen before. Yet the job market is changing, and employer attitudes are as well. To better understand this conundrum, we sat down with Sara Causey, a Staffing & Recruiting SME and the owner of Causey Consulting LLC, to ask for her thoughts.

What is happening overall in the job market these days?

That’s the question du jour. I wish I had a neat and tidy answer, but I don’t. The gist of it is: fluctuation and transition. I think we still have job seekers who imagine we’re in 2021 and that the job market is hot and candidates are holding all the cards. But CEOs and business owners know that’s not the case. People who experience layoffs are reporting that it’s taking longer than they expected to find another job and I suspect that’s because they listen to mainstream media sources and the Pollyanna Sunshine types on social media who try to keep the narrative going that the Great Resignation will last forever, and that people can hop across the market in perpetuity. I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but no, that’s not reality.

In your opinion, the Great Resignation is finished?

Oh yes, and it has been for quite some time now for white-collar workers. Quite frankly, Corporate America has not been shy in saying that it wants to hold the balance of power again. When you have collusion between Corporate America, central bankers, and Capitol Hill, who do you think is going to ultimately prevail? John and Jane Q. Public or the rich and powerful?

Is there a backlash against it?

I definitely believe so. I think we can say there was a Great Resignation and now there’s a Great Backlash against it. The economy has boom and bust cycles, sure, but I think at this point, we see some CEOs really taking a sort of impish glee in punishing employees with RTO mandates and conditioning job seekers by putting them through the ringer during the interview process. It’s terrible.

What do you mean by “conditioning job seekers?”

Part of Corporate America’s stock-in-trade is the idea of, “Will you go along to get along or will you be a problem?” It’s really about conformity. Will this candidate conform with our attitudes and expectations, or would this candidate be more of a maverick? Generally speaking, the maverick candidate is passed over in favor of the conformist.

That’s a bold statement!

Yes, it is. I promised my podcast listeners that 2023 would be my year of raw honesty and authenticity and I’m living by that. I know of whence I speak because during my own corporate career, I felt like a left foot stuck in a right shoe. I’m an introvert and my brain has some amount of neurodivergence and I’m assuredly not a conformist, so I felt like I was tolerated because of my work ethic and my production levels but not liked because I didn’t tap dance to the routine. One of the things you hear from hiring managers is the concept of cultural fit. When you boil it down to the true meaning, what they are typically getting at is, we want to hire someone we like and who will fit in around here.

What can a job seeker do to deal with these issues?

Unfortunately, this is another question that doesn’t have a simple, clear-cut answer that everyone can apply. As close as I can get to a generality would be this: evaluate a prospective employer as much or more as they are evaluating you. I know that can be tough if you are unemployed and in fast need of a job. I get it. I think if you are interviewing at a company and the vibe you get is cult-like or the manager’s expectations do not gel with what you can offer, you must consider that in your decision making. Using myself as an example, if I interviewed at a company and it became clear to me that they wanted to hire a loud extrovert, I would know that I wouldn’t be happy there and it would cause friction. I would also advise that people keep an eye on the overall economy and on the job market specifically. Conditions are changing on a regular basis these days and not for the better. We’ve left a boom cycle and we’re going into bust cycle territory.

For more job market insights, you can visit Sara at