The Phoenix Employment Scene, Now and Next

by Allen Plunkett

Business leaders in Phoenix are responding to the current job market by supporting, helping, advising, connecting and encouraging each other. These leaders range from entrepreneurs and small-business owners or managers to company directors and include people who are seen as thought leaders or front-line employers in the markets that we serve. These could be small restaurant owners finding very creative ways to partner with their so-called competitors or with other local/small businesses to help them also survive. And journalists are out there gathering the stories that bring smiles to our faces or give us the truth even if it is painful to hear.

Companies I work with are trying to reinvent themselves or are figuring out ways to come out stronger than they went into this crisis mode. People are stepping up and navigating these waters like I’ve never seen.

A manager at a local Phoenix distribution center was expecting layoffs to come; he reached out to Pepsi corporate office and suggested that his people could help them with their deliveries and routes throughout the nation. It worked and they picked up the opportunity to save some of those jobs. Whole Foods (Amazon) in Austin is partnering with other businesses to build a hiring pipeline of people they can bring aboard. Tiff’s Treats, a warm cookie delivery company also in Austin is working with other local, small businesses to help them with their own delivery capability picking up hamburgers at a P Terry’s and dropping that off with their cookies.

Competitors are coming together and determining ways to work together like I have never seen. Even in the recruiting and staffing industry, we are sharing more jobs and more candidates, and doing it on a pro-bono basis. There are webinars galore right now, including online job fairs to get people connected and give them insight and advice on how to navigate these waters.

Some industries are faring better than others. These include EdTech, education overall, healthcare, grocery and technology.

As many companies and industries — restaurants, event planning, hotel, et cetera — are struggling, distribution for grocery stores is one area that has seen an increase. A company in Phoenix called Limelight has seen a significant increase in their business as a result of what they do, hosting for Disney+, Amazon Prime, Netflix and others. The EdTech and streaming video companies all have more jobs. Healthcare (in all capacities) has more jobs and is struggling to find enough people.

There are several actions that companies should be doing right now. They should over-communicate with employees, customers, vendors. They should determine what they want to be known for and reinvent that brand now. This is not a time to stop moving forward. Network and help one another. And know that this will end. Be ready when it does.

Unemployment has skyrocketed, but there are actions job candidates should be doing right now. It starts with attitude: Do not panic. Additional advice, based on my experience in recruiting and staffing: Be around positive people and information that will propel you forward. Now is a good time to evaluate where you are, and where you want to be when this ends. Figure out a new route you want to take your career, and make a start toward making that happen. Network, network, network — but take it a step further, and ask for some of that person’s time. Accept this as a challenge and as something that will reshape you in a positive way.

The situation created by this pandemic is vastly different from what we experienced during the Recession. That was economic only. Having two things at play at once is new for us, leaving us anxious and startled. Getting to the stage of “Okay. This is happening. What’s next?” is critical. We can’t go backward, and we shouldn’t sit still. This will not “blow over,” and “normal” will not come back. This pandemic changes everything — where we work, how we work, our daily interactions, et cetera. The slog we have ahead of us is going to be a real thing.

Allen Plunkett, CEO of Phoenix Staff, is a recruiting and staffing expert. Phoenix Staff has offices in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Austin.

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