Learn The Basics: What A Candidate-Driven Market Means For You

What you should know about a candidate-driven market in order to achieve your career goals.

You have heard the expression “a candidate-driven market” or “an employer-driven market”. What is actually being referenced when they use those terms? First, what we are experiencing now is clearly a candidate-driven market, and we have been in this scenario for about two to three years. COVID certainly helped extend this market in regard to a candidate having more say than usual.

What Is A Candidate-Driven Market?

The easiest way to define this is to look at if there are more jobs being offered or more candidates looking for positions. When there are more candidates than positions, that is the antithesis of a candidate-driven market. When there are more positions being attempted to be filled, then you are in a candidate-driven market. Knowing that you are in a candidate-driven market creates certain issues for both employer as well as employee. In a candidate-driven market, employers will tend to pay higher wages for those employees that are already working for them in the fear that they may lose someone to a new firm hiring them. Not only are wages usually increased for existing employees; but if your compensation has a bonus component, bonuses tend to be higher in this type of market.

The Critical Counteroffer

Another especially important concern that needs to be addressed is that of counteroffers. In a candidate-driven market, firms are aware that even if they do make an offer to a new potential employee and they verbally accept (or even go as far as signing the offer letter, do their background check, and have a start date), they still have to go into their current firm and resign. A feat much more difficult than most people assume. Candidates are not aware of the pressure they may find themselves under when they tender their resignation. Even in COVID when resignations were not being tendered in person, there was still that pressure of the counteroffer. Firms knew that until a person walked figuratively in the door they were not officially hired.

Do’s & Don’ts In A Candidate-Driven Market

How do you take advantage of a candidate-driven market if you really want to make a move? First of all, realize that there are going to be more opportunistic situations in this type of market than in a normal market. Firms are going to want to chat with you if you are a producing public finance banker, municipal advisor, or bond counsel with business that can be moved. But does that mean you take advantage of this and interview with everyone? I say absolutely not. By demonstrating your loyalty to a firm that you really believe will be your next firm and not playing the field, they will respect you more and be more competitive in their offer. If perchance you are working with someone like myself that knows the industry and the players inside and out, you should be able to see that one firm is clearly the best fit for you to move forward with. The opportunistic style that I share with my candidates is that we only work with one firm. That is until either the candidate says they are no longer interested, or the employer shares their lack of interest. If either side does not present that scenario, we go from A to Z and the candidate gets hired. Why? Because the firm knows that they are not talking to anyone else, and the best competitive offer can be crafted. Playing the field in a candidate-driven market is not the answer. Knowing where your best fit and going there is the answer.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.