Anyone a little nervous about the stock market? Reading alternative economic blogs to find out if you should invest in municipal bonds or mattresses?
It's a bewildering time, and the normal tea leaves don't apply. In the midst of the best job market in 15 years, we still have massive numbers of people not working and even more people who can't find jobs better than the ones they hold. Recruiters are overworked with unrealistic requirements, but the amount of direct hire work and the actual fees are through the roof. What does it mean?
It means we're in a time of disruption, and the old ways of doing business are falling apart. New models and new strategies are needed, but the risks of doing business often run smack into our expectations and experience. Let me explain.
1) A Staffing Company I spoke to this month is experiencing a banner year. They've doubled their revenues in the last six months, and they've done it without hiring new people. Their secret: Technology.
2) An Executive Search Firm I know is awash in orders. They've stopped taking retainers, and the managers and salespeople are working feverishly to place what is in front of them. The recruiters are doing quite well, as they have plenty to work on, but the personal relationships of the salespeople are taking hits because they cannot deliver.
3) A Staffing Company I know is trying to sell. Their revenue has been flat for over a year. They're maintaining with their regular staff, but they haven't hired anyone who has worked out in three years. The owner lives in fear of their major client shunting off contractors
4) An account manager I know got 27 requirements. The company wants one supplier. The account manager said yes, and did a valiant job, but got only four placements before the company added more recruiters.
5) A competitor signed a single source agreement with a client. The client wanted full outsourcing of the staffing and recruitment marketing piece. The competitor is charging retainer fees that are separate from the staffing requirements.
6) A small search firm billed $1MM last year. They want to hire, but they don't have time to train, and everyone worth having is already having a good year.
7) A small search firm is going through the roller coaster effect. $100k in fees one month, zero for the next two. They can get good job orders, but when working on the orders, their pipeline dries up.
8) Talented internal recruiters moved to new companies in June with hefty raises and a better hiring process.
9) A company that hired over 550 people last year let go of two senior recruiters and replaced then with entry level recruiters 3 months later. They were acquired 3 months later.
Each of these scenarios is true, and they span different industries. What is happening? Adaptation. Recruiters internal and external are either adapting to the new market and improving the speed of their work, or they are caught in the whirlwind and dumped at the wrong time. This market isn't for the complacent. You're either winning or losing, rising or falling.
This affects recruiters because we're judged on performance, but to the general market it looks like a lot of noise. Job postings, employment announcements, and interviewing is happening all over, but it's easy to spot the winners, who aren't stuck working on the same jobs day in and day out.
Here's how to cope:
1) Prepare a cash cushion of at least three months of expenses and never touch it. The better you do, the more you add to it:
2) Always be looking, but never too hard: Be open to good situations, and be assured that if one good opportunity comes along, others will too. Cultivate this mindset.
3) Be prepared to fire bad managers and bad clients: There is too much good going on to deal with abusive clients, clueless managers, or companies who don't seem interested in hiring. It is their job to hire. It's your job to make introductions. The more you focus on bad clients, the less time you have to service good clients.
4) Have some empathy: Use those famous recruiting skills to truly understand what a manager is going through. You don't ditch good people if you can help them. You ditch hopeless situations for hopeful ones.
5) Always leave everyone with a smile: Keep in mind the job market is cyclical. Your mortal enemy today might be your savior 5 years from now. Don't get mad. Get efficient.
The secret of success is cultivating a feeling of abundance. For trained recruiters, this truly is that time. Take advantage of it.