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Eye on ESI for December Brings Good News Despite Recession

TRU Staffing Partners December 15, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Each month ACEDS’ President Mike Quartararo and Vice President Maribel Rivera join TRU Founder and CEO Jared Coseglia for a review of the current ediscovery job market statistics and news affecting both employers and job seekers. This month’s panel discussion centered on three main sets of metrics and evolved into a discussion of positive aspects of hiring during a recession. The gist: there is still a lot of work needing to be done in the industry. The path to take to get to the work may shift, but job seekers should consider all options to get ahead.

The Speed of Hire Has Slowed More

Coseglia noted that the speed of hire in 2021 was very swift – the entire process from contact to offer was 8 to 12 days. It’s now 25 to 30 days for those that are still hiring full-time in the industry. In some law firms, it’s been 120 days if they require a strong in-office presence, as most job seekers want more flexibility.

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Salary Demands Have Dropped Slightly

The slide below shows a change from last month. Ediscovery candidates are being slightly less aggressive trying to attain the highest possible salaries for open full-time roles. Coseglia said that TRU talent agents are seeing extremely high demand in ediscovery at the senior project manager level (7 to 10 years of experience) and confirmed that salaries of $160K to almost $200K are commonplace for these roles. This appears to be the new normal for law firms. He noted no changes to the vendor salary averages.

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Rates at Time of Hire

According to Coseglia, what’s unique about the next slide is that vendors are turning their attention to hiring for the first three or four roles noted on the slide: technicians, analysts, senior analysts, and coordinators. Vendors are hedging their bets against spending too much on talent right now, so they are hiring more candidates with less experience to get all the work done as we head into a recession. 

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Workplace Evolution Changes — and Shifts Toward Contractors

The following workplace evolution slide measures remote, hybrid, relocation, and contracting trends. The percentage of remote/hybrid roles for 2022 is at nearly 90%, making three out of every four jobs either fully remote or hybrid. Coseglia believes this is going to be the new perpetual normal. However, he highlighted his prediction for 2023 to show a slight downturn in remote/hybrid jobs as the recession moves forward. 

Screen Shot 2022-12-14 at 9.22.40 AM“We are now indeed in a job market recession,” he said. “For full-time hires, it may last until the end of the first quarter of 2023. Between now and then, it will mean that law firms and software companies will have some leverage toward getting employees to come into the office more frequently. Those employees who are out of work might jump at that option now, which will bring that percentage down. It’s a maybe – people are also willing to ride out the recession, but employers are hopeful to get some employees to come back to the office.”

Rivera noted that the high remote/hybrid metric matches the Winter 2023 Document Reviewer Preferences Survey that showed that over 98% of document reviewers wanted to work remotely.

Coseglia agreed: “What’s a little different about ediscovery is that a lot of contract reviewers are not looking for vertical mobility by working in an office. But ediscovery professionals at law firms are expected at the office – the lawyers are going back and ediscovery pros are needed there. If you are looking for vertical mobility in a law firm, one of the ways to accelerate your vertical mobility is to work in an office, be seen, and interact with the lawyers there.”

Quartararo mentioned that he follows the market and recently saw a positive jobs report. He asked Coseglia to explain why he thought we were in a recession.

Coseglia explained that when looking at the variables being discussed, it’s clear we’re in a job market recession. “The speed of hire has recessed, the number of people resigning and thus creating new openings has dropped,” he said. “The volume of opportunities as it relates to the timeline in which we are seeing them has expanded. So, there are fewer people changing jobs in the fourth quarter as compared to all three of the previous quarters in 2022. It’s taking a lot longer to get the jobs and longer for the next job to open.”

Overall Job Market Trends

TRU talent agents are seeing many clients move open roles into 2023 or are choosing to hire contractors instead of full-timers in hopes of capitalizing on out-of-work talent. Employers are hedging their bets on this strategy and being very mindful of maintaining profitability.

Also, Coseglia noted, that for the first time in nearly 22 months, job seekers are showing hesitation about exploring the market “with abandon”.

Job seekers in ediscovery are still getting an average of three (and a minimum of two) job offers at the point of hire. The few candidates who are actively looking are getting the offers. Jobs are just moving more slowly, they are in different places, they are paying different compensations so everyone is trying to recalibrate to figure out where they fit and who they can get.

Ediscovery, data privacy, and cybersecurity contractors on the rise

The far-right column on the next slide shows Coseglia’s prediction for a huge rise in 2023 contractor offers being accepted. He predicts a jump to 60% of the open jobs being contract or contract to hire. “We’ve been here before and know what to expect,” he said. “When full-time hiring accelerates, the contract market falls, and when the economy is slow, the contract market swings way up again.”

Screen Shot 2022-12-14 at 9.24.55 AMCoseglia believes the frequency between these highs and lows is the new normal. Not just for the job market, but for the entire economy: “We are going to see pendulum swings in our stock market, in our job market, in our hiring cycles,” he said. “We have these levels of polarity every 24 to 36 months. When the blue line is left by itself, you see that the frequency of these shifts is getting shorter.”

Screen Shot 2022-12-14 at 9.25.52 AMWhen an audience member asked how they can be ready to move when the job market is ready, Coseglia has several pieces of advice:

  1. Know what you are willing to compromise on (and what you aren’t). TRU talent agents always ask jobs seekers what they want. Employers are going to be more fastidious about pushing their agendas to get employees to compromise to their needs during the recession.
  2. Recover from the trauma of losing a job by really calculating what you are willing to commit to in the future. Trauma makes job seekers have greater trepidation about committing to a full-time position where they might experience that trauma again. Look very carefully at your goals.
  3. Take contract work until the full-time market is really open again. It’s likely you have the skillsets many employers need, and you can try out a role, then buy into it later. Both employers and candidates are willing to do this, and it’s a healthy thing.

Good News: Salaries and Bonuses Are Happening!

Coseglia said that as much as companies are considering layoffs, they are also looking at how to give significant increases to key employees as part of base compensation boosts. Some companies and law firms are aggressively bonusing their staff, but he noted that TRU is seeing significant increases in base compensation as retention policies to keep employees from shopping around.

With ediscovery professionals, TRU team members are telling their clients who are hiring right now to be prepared for a recalibration of compensation expectations. The numbers from October may not apply if people are moving and recently got raises. People ARE still getting raises, and they want that same salary if they agree to move.

The panel discussed keys for employees angling for salary increases and bonuses: ensure that employers know employees’ impact on the organizations, the successes, the wins, the efforts, and the challenges faced every day.

Next quarter, the panel team will offer an update on these metrics and will discuss new trends they are seeing in the job market. In the meantime, TRU talent agents can help you achieve your new year resolutions for the best new jobs or new candidates in ediscovery. Throw your hat in the ring by applying for TRU representation today.

You can download the full Eye on ESI December deck here

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