What Kind of Search Assignments Are You Finding (& Working) In These Times?

I was speaking with some fellow recruiting colleagues in my local market this morning about what kinds of assignments they are finding given our current economic times. A discussion here on RBC yesterday led me to reflect that perhaps I was focusing on the wrong searches - my philosophy as an Executive Recruiter has always been to focus on the assignments that my Clients can't fill on their own . . . however, I keep an open mind and am open to making new decisions based on new information and intel.

See, my reality is one of significant job loss. My brother's plant just closed down and now he may need to take a contractor position in Iraq to feed his family because blue-collar mechanic (rotary wing) positions are tough to come by today. My fiance just learned yesterday that the mill which manufacturs 75% of her firm's high-end wallcoverings line just announced bankruptcy (her firm is re-sourcing, but this is a real blow). My father is waiting to see how many F-22 Fighters are slated to be manufactured as he's a Manager at Lockheed (this is pivotal to the plant here in Marietta, GA). I also know that the number of Americans currently collecting unemployment benefits rose to the highest levels they have ever been (since our federal gov't started collecting records on this in 1967). For the week ending 1/17/09, those collecting unemployment were at 4,776,000, eclipsing the prior mark set in November 1982, (4,713,000). We have more data coming out this Thursday, I believe . . . and projections are that job losses and unemployment claims are on an increased rise.

What I gathered from my local recruiting colleagues is that search assignments ('job orders') are on a steep decline, as much as 75% depending niche and vertical focus. As for me, I haven't seen that stark of a decline, but I have seen many hiring freezes which has prompted me to ramp up new business development efforts to offset this risk. When a hiring freeze is instilled, not only do the tougher searches go away, but also do the easy searches ("cake").

I also spoke with Gerry Crispin, a gentleman whose work and efforts I'm a huge fan of as he always points to the data for his conclusions (which is why they're typically bulletproof, or at a minimum, extremely well substantiated). He assumes nothing and like a true scientist/statistician, he lets the data tell the truth. During a conversation last week, he mentioned that based on SOH data for 2008, it preliminarily looks as if positions filled through Exec Search firms are down substantially as well (we won't get specifics until the Career XRoads 2008 SOH Report comes out).

So my question to my fellow Recruiters that have the time to answer this on RBC is the following:

What kind of searches are you finding (& working) in these economic times?

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I don't have time for a very lengthy reply but can share just a thought or two. Your openmindedness is admirable Joshua and it's a good example of how we all need to be open to looking at the world from as many angles as possible. (Being an "outspoken" person it's tough for me - but I'm trying!)

I am personally working on the positions I feel have a reasonable shot at becoming a placement. This is no time to be distracted by a wild goose chase. You need to have a placement in your scope at all times.

Seems there are quite a few "experts" suggesting looking at other fields/niches. I have to disagree with that. The best time to do that is during peaks in the economy where you have your current business finance the learning curve in the new field. Now is not the time to put on training wheels. Stick with your area of expertise. I might though be open to working secondary fields within my go-to client base...like if my I.T. client is looking for an engineer or similar. Consider aligning with a split buddy to capitalize on those situations.

OK. Gotta run.
I'm doing a split with a recruiter on adding 5 Sr.Business Analysts for a 2 year contract that is re-engineering some internal applications, I have a consulting firm I support and we are searching for 5-6 Organizational Change Mgmt professionals for a 6mth+ contract and we have Adobe Flex developer that is 3mth CTH and another Sr BA position that is 6mth+ contract. We have some more requirements coming up that I should be getting soon but one of them is a Sr.Java developer for direct hire. That's what's in the hopper right now on my desk.
So I just got the call from my vendor client today and here is the additional list on what we are working on:

Contract: 2 Java Devl, 2 .net devl, 1 ETL lead, 1 Tech'l Lead, 3 BA's, 1 Oracle Business Services person, 1 Tech'l Writer, 1 person to lead strategy and overall implementation of LMS and 1 BA with Use Case and OCM Coaching skills.

Direct Hire: 2 Java Dev, 2 .net Dev, 1 BA, 1 Data Arch, 1 PM

Just from 5 of our vendor's clients - I guess what I might suggest is that if you are a recruiter/sourcer, you might want to hook up with a consulting company that has a solid business development manager (like ex Big Firm type) that doesn't have a recruiting staff in place and needs support on open req's they've developed with their clients. I also help this firm with leads in their geographic area to new business/clients to continue expansion of the services so this is a true business partnership in that way of us helping each other grow/expand. They aren't easy to find, but if you can build that type of relationship with a firm like that it could help you get more revenue into your portfolio.
Dean, this is a rock-solid idea. Thank you for your thoughts. Partnering with consulting firms is absolutlely viable . . . particularly if they're Defense Contractors (or their Clients are).
I have been doing the same as Dean is doing.

I have partnered with various recruiting firms locally in Southern California and New York to fill their Direct hire placements. Most are Accounting positions but some are sales. On my temp/contract business we are not having ANY issues filling the jobs ..but like direct hire..it is getting the orders.

I am also finding my "loyal" clients calling the temp orders out to other firms to get the best bill rate. We are also back to the famous question from the clients " is that bill rate the best you can do"? My standard answer is " I could go higher but I didn't think you would like or go for that." It does work.

I have been in this business for 20 years as many of us have tenure in it as well. Sell to your clients your expertise in what YOU do, what YOU can provide your clients and how you make their job easier.

These times will pass and I truly believe soon. We are negotiating more but don't sell yourself short either. We do provide value to both our applicants and clients.

Joe Cummings
Royal Associates/ Royal Staffing

Joshua Letourneau said:
Dean, this is a rock-solid idea. Thank you for your thoughts. Partnering with consulting firms is absolutlely viable . . . particularly if they're Defense Contractors (or their Clients are).
Strategic Business Consultants. I am slammed.
I really only work my niche unless my client ask for other types of candidates..then i work a split...I am a true B2B sales recruiter, times are very tough, but i know that my reputation with my clients will always keep my business going. If you guys need help with B2B sales reps/Sales Managers at any level. I do work split but only with ethical recruiters and prefer direct contact with the recruiter i am working with, not interested in trying to steal clients since Kama is huge in this business. I believe what goes around comes around!
When you hit a losing streak in Poker the worst thing you can do is change your game. Or so I'm told.
Ami, great comment - being a Poker 'fan' (whose won and lost a few dollars in the game), I can relate to where you're coming from. For an ironic truth, most Poker players "tighten up" around the bubble (meaning the point at which they get 'in the money' for lasting to the final 10% of players, etc.). The analogy might be the recruiter that 'tightens' up and doesn't adequately qualify the search up front.

It's at this 'tightening up' point in Poker that the best of the best get more aggressive, because earning the $40k to get in under the bubble isn't their goal. They want to win the whole thing . . . so they capitalize on the hesitation and fear of the other players. I've seen many super poker players make runs around the bubble, stealing blinds all over the table. Once they get a stack of chips in front of them, it's not easy to bust them.

Ultimately, I guess there is a time to be a jackal (loose & aggressive), while there is a time to be a mouse (tight & aggressive), etc., etc., etc., The best of the best quickly get an understanding of the personality and play styles of those at the table, and adjust their approach accordingly.

Classic business discussion, wouldn't you say? :)

Amitai Givertz said:
When you hit a losing streak in Poker the worst thing you can do is change your game. Or so I'm told.
We continue to work on any technical positions that come up, but we work much faster and harder right now. We are expanding into other niches and we have repositioned ourselves to take on contractors going forward. Often contractors are the next step after the layoffs but before the headcount returns.

So, our motto is work hard, stay nimble, and try anything twice.
aggression usually wins, in both cases, imho

Joshua Letourneau said:
Ami, great comment - being a Poker 'fan' (whose won and lost a few dollars in the game), I can relate to where you're coming from. For an ironic truth, most Poker players "tighten up" around the bubble (meaning the point at which they get 'in the money' for lasting to the final 10% of players, etc.). The analogy might be the recruiter that 'tightens' up and doesn't adequately qualify the search up front.

It's at this 'tightening up' point in Poker that the best of the best get more aggressive, because earning the $40k to get in under the bubble isn't their goal. They want to win the whole thing . . . so they capitalize on the hesitation and fear of the other players. I've seen many super poker players make runs around the bubble, stealing blinds all over the table. Once they get a stack of chips in front of them, it's not easy to bust them.

Ultimately, I guess there is a time to be a jackal (loose & aggressive), while there is a time to be a mouse (tight & aggressive), etc., etc., etc., The best of the best quickly get an understanding of the personality and play styles of those at the table, and adjust their approach accordingly.

Classic business discussion, wouldn't you say? :)

Amitai Givertz said:
When you hit a losing streak in Poker the worst thing you can do is change your game. Or so I'm told.
Julia, that's why you win :) LOL - you'll like this as a fellow Poker Player: I had a guy think he was going to aggressively push me at a table because he kept looking at me juggling his chips (i.e. like Antonio Esfandiari, the King of Aggression) below.

Once I saw he could juggle, I knew he was a player - that was the only tell I needed. His cockiness led me to feign him. I acted like a weak Elephant, calling, calling, calling, and calling again. So about an hour in, I was on the button and then called with him betting one position before me. The difference was that this time, I was holding the Big Slick (suited Diamonds).

He raised and one other player folded - it was me and him in a showdown. The flop came down K-7-A and I check-raised him All-In. He called with A-4, thinking his Aces would knock me out. He jumped up thinking he had taken me down. That was until I turned my cards over and looked at him, at which his knees almost gave out as he gripped the side of the table.

You gotta love this game. It's like Tap-Out without the physical contact.


Julia Stone said:
aggression usually wins, in both cases, imho

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