Hacking the Talent Demand & Supply: Navigating an Increasingly Competitive Job Market

Like it or not, the ‘new normal’ is here. 

In the midst of a pandemic, firms across all sectors and sizes have maneuvered, pivoting where lucrative, to ensure revenue generation. Organizations have leveraged or enhanced technology to continue operations. Management across the hierarchy have entrusted KPI’s and dashboards, some with reluctance, to continue leading teams. Employees have discovered a new definition of work-life balance, one littered with innocent distractions from loved ones, whilst focusing on precise deliverables within work hours. 

We at Michael Page Africa continue to engage with candidates across the region through over the phone and video calls, advice sharing via our website and publications as well as webinars. What has become clear today is the significance of job market competitiveness?

With the economic crisis emerging due to the pandemic, demand for candidates appears to be far lower than the supply of candidates. At a glance, a job seeker might lose hope and give up applying altogether. After all, what’s the point of applying if no one wants to hire me? Luckily, there is more beneath the surface, and we hope that our suggestions below help you land the perfect role for you.

Targeted Networking 

We’ve all heard the choir preach the benefits of networking in some shape or form. Networking equates to job hunt success. Not quite. 

Approach this task differently depending on your education, skillset, experience level, and level of specialization. A CFA-qualified investment analyst is well-advised to focus on, say, mutual funds as opposed to residential construction contractors. A nuclear fuel expert with thirty years of experience and an invaluable supplier network may be gobbled up by any firm in the nuclear supply chain, but feel hopeless if she focuses her effort on banks. 

Focusing on synergies, identify a list of target firms and use LinkedIn to identify key decision makers in Human Resources and in the departments you are likely to be working in. Connect with said individuals regularly – I’d recommend starting once a week and gradually transitioning to once a quarter – with the intent to have a series of insightful, informational conversations to build long-term relationships that eventually unlock value.

But what do you say?

Return on Investment

Draft a crystal-clear, relevant, up-to-date, and customized value proposition for every organization and individual you contact. In stark contrast to “the shotgun approach,” this precludes your networking messages seeming like spam. On the contrary, you would be exhibiting your skillset, current strengths, and potential value add to your target. This will raise your hit-rate without a doubt and, as an added bonus, will boost the relevance of those you eventually add to your professional network, too.

A truly relevant, contextual value proposition is an absolute necessity for all networking efforts, CV submissions (cover letters), and outreach to recruitment firms. It must sell you and it must unambiguously explain why you are the best person for specific roles at specific companies. After all, you don’t believe in yourself, why should someone else?

Jack of All Trades, Master of Some

The current environment has accelerated an existing trend. Given a specialty within a core area, function, or activity (e.g. graphic design), companies increasingly seek professionals who are adaptable, flexible, and able to effectively collaborate cross-functionally. All else equal, rapid re-strategizing by polyvalent decision-makers is a strong indicator of organizational performance in the current context.

Continue to acquire knowledge, skills, and certificates. While not strictly a job hunt tactic, this is a medium-to-long term suggestion to enhance your profile and is easily achieved through online courses/MOOC’s. Build a portfolio of projects and deliverables to add to your CV, and leverage those that are relevant when selling yourself to any individual.


We are, in many ways, living in a defining era. Winners and losers will inevitably emerge through the ensuing creative destruction. Luckily, all winners will have one trait in common and we can adopt this trait to become winners ourselves. Resilience. 

To be sure, every individual’s eventual success or failure is a result of effort and luck. It always has been. Efforts are in your complete control whereas luck isn’t. These days, elements that go into luck may seem to be in short supply. The pursuit of a positive result may require determination and effort like never before. Applying them, no matter how long, will more than likely contribute to your eventual success. 

There are no magic formulas, holy grails, or trade secrets to securing the right employment for you. Optimize your message and audience and maximize your efforts showcasing your profile. This strategy will set you apart from those that solely cover the basics and, I hope, help you succeed in an overcrowded market. 

We encourage you to register yourself on our website to receive the latest job alerts and access Career Advice.

If you are a procurement professional looking for a new opportunity then we encourage you to apply for the Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain jobs that we are recruiting. If you are looking to enhance your team with top talent, then please submit a job spec and we will be in touch. 

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