This economy has affected so many of us in staffing. A large number of our friends and co-workers, myself included, have been victims of companies scrambling to find places to cut back on expenses. One of the first places they look to make reductions are the “non-revenue generating” internal positions – and unfortunately recruiting falls into that category during times like this.
It’s sad to me because finding talent, in my opinion, is a business essential – especially when you consider the cost of having a position vacant. Dr. John Sullivan once estimated that it could cost between $7,000 – $50,000 per DAY to have an engineering position vacant, and that in key leadership positions, the cost of vacancies could run into the millions for each week of vacancy.
So why do companies cut positions that are responsible for keeping these astronomical vacancy costs down? Well, in an economy such as what we’re experiencing today, companies look at the fact that they’ve placed a hiring freeze on operations, or the fact that they don’t have budget for the next few quarters to make many new hires, and at the top levels, the decision is made that as there will be little to no hiring made for the remainder of the year, the natural thing to do is to reduce the size of the staffing team.
I think this is very short-sighted mentality.
We are not going to be in this economic situation forever. History dictates this. Geoffrey H. Moore, former director emeritus of the Center for International Business Cycle Research, Columbia University, New York wrote an article back in the 90s examining the various recessions and depressions throughout US history. In his studies, he determined that of the 3 depressions, the average length of time was 24.6 months. His studies also found at the time that we went through 6 sharp recessions – average length of time 12.5 months; and 5 mild recessions – average length of time 9.6 months. Even though this information does not include recent recessions from after 2000, the information still paints a historical picture and lets us know that things will eventually turn around.
Most scholars and analysts have agreed that our present recession began in December of 2007. If that’s the case, we’re due for an upswing and I believe that it’s coming sometime this fall. But when hiring needs resume, who’s going to be there to fill all of the vacant positions, since so many corporations have laid off massive numbers in their staffing teams?
That’s where the agency recruiters come in. For those of you who can hang on through these turbulent times, you will have more work than you can handle when the economy turns the corner. Lots of corporations have been downsizing their staffing teams to bare bones; some completely eliminating them. When hiring resumes – most likely sometime this fall or winter – they’re going to be seriously hurting for people to help fill their needs. That’s where you come in – since there won’t be people in corporate staffing roles, companies are going to look to you for assistance, and you’ll have more work than you know what to do with. So hang on for the next several months and you will be rewarded handsomely.
As well, here is my advice to large corporations: this is the time when you need people building trusting relationships with future candidates. Letting go of your staffing teams during times like this will only come back to hurt you in the long run. Hold on to those people who are good at building relationships – because candidates will remember those people when things get better. I personally feel blessed to be working with an organization that embraces this idea about staffing.
Just keep in mind: this, too, shall pass. Recessions never last forever. There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. Make smart business decisions – do not be penny-wise and pound foolish. Stay the course and never give up!
*disclaimer: I am not an economic scholar; these are simply my thoughts on the current situation based on my observations and my own personal experiences.
Today marks the day I started my career in Internet Research, seven years ago. I still remember just like it was yesterday – I moved 1,000 miles away from everything I was familiar with to take my new job. I packed up my apartment in Tampa and threw about 2 weeks worth of clothes and other essentials (including my computer) into my Honda Del Sol, and heading up I-75 to Cincinnati on Friday, June 21st. I arrived in the evening the following day and settled into my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment. A couple of weeks later, my brother and I flew back down to FL to rent a U-Haul to get the rest of my stuff up to Cincinnati. We drove back up and packed everything into a storage unit where it remained until 2 months later. You see, it took every penny that I had just to move to Cincinnati, and my brother and sister-in-law allowed me to live with them until I had saved enough to move out on my own. I crashed on the couch until the end of August, when I finally was able to get my own place.
Now, seven years later, I can reflect upon those first few years in my first “real job” after college with fondness. Going through those years was tough at the time because I struggled to make ends meet. But knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change those times for anything, because I learned an awful lot about myself and what I was capable of.
I stayed with my first employer for four years before moving on to a position in which I was allowed to work remotely. In that position, Manager of Internet Research for a recruiting franchiser organization, I learned independence, and I learned how to consult with business owners. My role was that of research support as well as database training, social media use, and franchise owner support. I had to learn how to work with business owners, many of whom were fantastic to work with, and some of whom required a great deal of patience on my part.
In 2007, I joined an in-house staffing team as a sourcing strategist, this time with a PR agency. I started the process of learning how the “other side” operates – internal staffing, dealing with clients who were also co-workers and the bureaucracy of corporate hiring. Here, I fell in love with PR and communication, and I learned a great deal about how PR and recruiting are quite similar. I listened to and learned from my co-workers and others in the PR and social media communities. It is here where I learned just how valuable social media is to the recruitment process. Though I never operated as a PR account professional, I picked up many things along the way that have helped me to understand that world, including the value of my “Research Goddess” reputation.
Recently, I joined the Talent Attraction team with AT&T. Now working for an incredibly large Fortune 10 company, I am challenged with finding my voice within and being a good representative of an already well-established brand. I am tasked with being an ambassador of AT&T’s brand and reputation through social media channels, and finding and attracting professionals to the company. I am working with a seriously talented team and am enjoying learning this new industry, especially the way mobile marketing plays into our efforts.
Every step along my career path over the last seven years has gotten me closer to what I’m passionate about. I want to stay on the cutting edge of how we communicate and interact with each other, and each of my jobs has given me some knowledge and allowed me to earn experience that translates perfectly into the next position. I cut my teeth on the recruiting industry in my first four years – I learned the fundamentals of what it takes to be successful in a career in research. I learned independence and training skills with the next position. When I went in-house, I learned about the importance of internal communication and tapping into the resources that already exist within your own walls. And now with AT&T, I am learning about where we’re going in the future with communication, and I’m right on top of that wave which is really exciting.
I have thoroughly enjoyed these last seven years and look forward to the coming ones. Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have been:
- “This too shall pass” – we all have to struggle in life in order to appreciate the good times. He who never has to struggle will never fully understand victory.
- Every experience is a learning opportunity – whether good or bad, every situation you encounter in your career is a chance for you to pick up some nuggets of wisdom. Take the time to discover them in your own situations.
- You can’t accomplish anything without the help of others – nothing of significance in this world is accomplished entirely by one person. Embrace those around you and appreciate the help and guidance they can provide to you.
- People serve different purposes in your life – some people come and go quickly, and others stay for awhile. Cherish the time you have with each person – learn from them, discover their talents, and appreciate what they leave you with.
- Don’t be afraid to take a risk – I moved 1,000 miles from my comfort zone, and look where I am today 🙂 Don’t be afraid to do something that’s uncharacteristic of your normal habits – with great risk comes the potential for great reward.
- ALWAYS follow your heart – don’t do something you don’t love. You’ll never be happy. Find what you’re passionate about and run after it. If you do, you will never ‘work’ a day in your life because you will enjoy what you do.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of helping me get to where I am today. I am truly grateful for every opportunity, every experience, and every relationship.