Hiring Heats Up
Unemployment rates decrease as Atlanta's job market rises

Temperatures may be cooling off as we come into fall, but that doesn’t mean the job market has gone cold. Leaders at the SHRM-Atlanta noted a slowdown early this year in executive search across many sectors (excluding hot industries like health care and IT), but note that these numbers are crawling back up in recent months. As the city’s largest HR association with more than 2,300 members representing more than 1,300 metro Atlanta organizations, SHRM-Atlanta has its pulse on the metro area’s hiring trends, and the good news for relocators is that the hiring market is sizzling.

Tom Darrow, past president of SHRM-Atlanta and founder and principal of Talent Connections, LLC and Career Spa, LLC, says HR hiring is a leading indicator of the health of the job market. “When companies hire HR leaders, they are preparing for additional growth. When HR hiring slows, other hiring typically sees a [downward] trend,” Darrow said. He noted there were high levels of HR search in 2015 and 2016, but early 2017 saw a slow down. In recent months, search has picked up, Darrow said.

How to Stand Out in a Hot Market

No matter what industry or employment level you’re seeking, Darrow said the baseline is always the same: you must be able to prove you have the relevant skills for the role. “In addition, competencies like innovation, collaboration, flexibility and leadership are in demand,” he added.

On SHRM-Atlanta’s career resources page, job seekers can access a wealth of tools to help them in their job search — many of which address bolstering your resume to make sure those core competencies and in-demand skills are highlighted so that you catch the eye of potential employers and recruiters. Additionally, a wealth of links to proven job search strategies, developing interview skills and networking and social media tips can help jobseekers in almost any industry improve their professional brand.

Darrow also notes that relocators with these high-demand skills (and a little bit of flexibility) should consider alternatives to the full-time roles they may be seeking. With new skills becoming an emerging necessity that outpaces the ability for corporations to offer internal training and development, positioning yourself as on-demand talent could be a lucrative move. “Contractors, consultants, free agents … they are highly sought after and command a premium,” Darrow said. While this may not work for every working professional, consider your skills, availability and willingness to be your own boss before making the leap to freelance or consulting work.

“Atlanta’s Brand is Hot”

With a reasonable cost of living, great weather, new and exciting sports venues, a world-class airport and more, Atlanta remains a highly attractive city to work and live. In a September press release, Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced the state set a record in August for total jobs, surpassing 4.5 million for the first time. Other key indicators like new unemployment claims, increasing workforce and the total number of employed residents showed Georgia’s economy continues to be strong, Butler said.

“The August numbers show Georgia’s economy and outlook for employment remains healthy,” said Butler. “This is a great time to live, work and invest in Georgia.”

At 4.7 percent, the August unemployment rate remains unchanged from July. That’s a decrease from last August when the rate was 5.3 percent. From July to August, Georgia gained 19,800 jobs, a 0.4 percent rise, which increased the total number of jobs to 4,510,200. Since August 2016, Georgia has gained 116,500 jobs, a 2.7 percent growth rate. The state is outpacing the national job growth rate of 1.4 percent.

The total number of employed residents rose by 9,910 to 4,811,281 from July to August. There are 141,592 more Georgians employed now than in August 2016.

“Atlanta’s brand is hot and it’s future is bright!” Darrow said. “It was 30 years ago last week that I moved to Atlanta from Wisconsin to begin my career with PricewaterhouseCoopers. There isn’t another place on the planet that I’d rather work.”