Is $200K The New $100K?

Ed Pintwala
February 14, 2024

Is there anyone out there open to a fantastic new opportunity?

Compensation exceeds $100,000 per year, with added perks like benefits, bonuses, flexibility, and an excellent boss. The position allows for a hybrid work model, spending three days per week in the office.

"No thank you -  unless it’s $135k+ and fully remote or 1 day/week in the office I’m not interested."

For those in roles such as hiring manager, HR, or recruitment professional, you likely understand my perspective. It's not that people are being greedy; rather, there seems to be a noticeable shift.

Therefore I ask "Is $200k the new $100k"?

Well, Canada’s CPI rose on an annual basis of 3.4% in 2023, 6.8% in 2022, 3.4% in 2021, and 0.7% in 2020 but salaries have been lagging. 

People are feeling overworked and undervalued, and since coming out of COVID lockdowns that now seem like a blurry brain fog memory long ago, many are still re-assessing what they want out of their careers and daily lives. 

Based more on qualitative, what I’m seeing and hearing, many contributing factors made 2023 one of the most challenging markets to ‘make a successful hire’ in my 15 years on the desk.

  • Talent supply shortage

> Demographics - boomers are leaving
> Psychographics - industry preferences are shifting

> Geographics - people are leaving Ontario (and sometimes Canada) too expensive

  • Employers cautious approach 

> More demands, back to the office

> Facing increased input costs, commodities, ingredients, packaging, utilities

> Customer pressure from Retailers to keep costs low, reject price increases

Most contributing factors date back 3-4 years and have gradually built up to what I can say has been one of the most challenging past 12-18 months in recruiting over the past 15 years. 


1. Talent Supply Shortage

I’m seeing less of a qualified candidate pool for most jobs. Posting jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn seems to bring in some of the lowest amounts of relevant applicant quality rates I’ve seen.

I’d say 5 potential candidates for every 165 applicants or so = you may pre-screen 3% of applicants

*Lesson to a job seeker. Don’t shy away from applying to a job if you’ve done your homework on the role & company. If you feel you’re truly qualified and your experience matches the job description, you’re probably 1-step closer than 90% of others)

2. Demographics

Many baby-boomers / experienced talent in food / CPG are taking early retirement packages or pivoting out of the industry early to pursue other careers. COVID accelerated this, think Food Service salespeople - where did you all go?

OR are unfortunately not what employers are looking to hire / in need of when it comes to senior financial analysts, demand or supply planners, key account representatives, or food scientists.

Many employers have increased salaries for mid-senior jobs, now paying $70-95k (that were 60-75k 7-10 years ago) but still cannot fill them because of a lack of qualified candidates, or if they are strong performers, many employers are retaining, promoting and given promotions faster, to retain their short supply of strong talent.

Thus, a lot of the top talent is happily employed or doesn’t feel your workplace culture/flex/location works for them. And certainly will not entertain a lateral move for no reason.

3. Psychographics

Younger talent is not being recruited into our industries as much. Or choosing to pursue more sexy sectors vs. Food & Bev like Tech, SAAS, Automation, Software, etc.

Let’s face it, many new grads want to work for LinkedIn, Salesforce, or the next tech startup. Is being a Brand Manager at P&G or General Mills as appealing as 20 years ago? Not sure.

Canada seems to have less recruitment from large companies directly from college & university programs.
Less management trainee programs and a lack of awareness or education of students about the high growth / potential high paying jobs to young students in food & CPG.

Shout out to people like Nicole Gallace founder of Foodgrads, and other associations like Canadian Food Innovation Network, Food & Beverage Ontario, and other associations and Educators (Conestoga College, Niagara College, U of Guelph) who are working hard to educate launch students into this great industry.

4. Geographic's 

Immigration - was stunted / drastically decreased for 2 years. Is now ramping up again and helping fill some hiring gaps. 

We are now seeing an inverted job market problem whereby there are more jobs in GTA and in some larger Canadian cities, but more of the qualified workforce has chosen they can’t afford or don’t want to spend the money it takes to live and work in the GTA for example. And are willing to take the risk to move to Nova Scotia or NB or Alberta and work for less, or pivot their careers for a lower cost of living and lifestyle shift. And still feel further ahead.

What Are Professionals Thinking And Feeling?

Psychology - Job Seekers:

Profile A. The Mid Career - Sandwiched Professional:
I have a good job. Been through a lot lately with kids/family/ or trying to start a family and/or caring for elderly parents. So at this time, I’m not looking to make a change or risk any further adversity or career risk.

Profile B. The High Performer:
I’m a high performer - I’ve been given a nice raise & promotion lately - so for me to listen or move it’s gonna take a lot - min 15-20% bump in total compensation. 

Profile C. The Worker finding it difficult to find their place:
I’m actively looking for work, but unfortunately, my resume is underwhelming to your clients because:

A. I’m not from your exact industry/category 

B. I’ve moved around a bit lately and covid or family obligations disrupted my career

C. I’m not willing to make a lateral move to do the same role for the same pay at a different company with added risk. 

D. I’m not interviewing or presenting well or do not have the accomplishments and performance for a company to give me a job offer given the competitive and cautious nature of the market.

What Are Employers And Hiring Managers Thinking And Feeling?

Let’s break this down: Start-Ups vs. SMEs vs. Tier 1 Multi-nationals:


Can also be recently launched CPG brands in the past 1-3 years (think plant-based alternatives, DTC, low sugar snacks, better for you). Most are very cash-strapped and in dire condition, given venture capital has completely dried up since 2022 + Financing/debt got very expensive very fast. 

AKA trying to survive / pivot/scale with little additional spending or budget to hire strong talent.


Privately owned / co-manufacturing / private label. I love these clients by the way. Hard-working operators, innovators, risk takers.  But have been squeezed from both sides. Retail customers like LCL & Walmart are demanding lower prices and no price increases. + Commodity/ingredient suppliers/shipping/logistics/freight input costs going 30% or more in the past 2-3 years.

Not to mention burned-out workforces in hourly and salaried positions who coming out of COVID are asking for more money/title/work-from-home flex. 

Many of these company cultures are collaborative, on-site, and have salaried positions supporting the plant manufacturing workers, meaning little to no work-from-home flex.

That being said, regardless of whatever side you take. These companies are missing out on a larger talent pool. If roles like Supply Chain, Finance, Accounting, Sales & Marketing can be done with more technology and work-from-home flexibility it may be worth a shot. Understanding that operations and many production/quality /R&D/ maintenance/engineering roles are on site and will always be. 

CPG Tier 1 / Multinationals

Calling all employees, please come back to our offices at least 2-3 days/week. We have 5-10 year leads and spend a lot of money on real estate costs so we’d like to justify this. Wear T-shirts and jeans if you’d like, but please just come back :)

Employers seem to be calling people back in. But only some are truly enforcing/seeing it happen. Others are asking, but kind of turning a blind eye because let’s be honest. Everyone’s too busy just trying to manage their Teams meetings, messages, Slack, and email. 

Everyone still has to do it anyway, because some people won’t be in the office on the same day or time, and need to be on Teams regardless of all those missed in-person meetings. Commuting also seems worse even though post Covid you’d think there’d be less traffic on GTA commute routes.

So What Does This Mean For Recruiters?

This is by no means a negative, whoa me, our jobs as recruiters are getting too hard rant. I thought instead of throwing out a ‘tips and insights’ post or How To interview better, people may want to hear what our team is seeing and hearing every day in this market. 

If anything, I will say December and January have been refreshingly busy, and that things are starting to ease on both sides…fingers crossed. Employers seem to be willing to wiggle, risk, and offer more or get creative to make sure they’re hiring some great talent who can add value and have a true impact. 

Job Seekers are also looking to get back to more in-person / in-office positions and take some risks based on the fact they want to challenge, grow, and ultimately work with great people with the belief that monetary reward will follow. 

So if you’re a hiring manager, HR, or Talent Recruiter - you’re not alone if you’re sharing these challenges of late. I’ve found that no job is filled on the first day or week anymore. It’s 3x harder but also 3x more rewarding when you get it right.

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