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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Several things...

Since some know that I joined an agency with temp and regular foci in IT, Healthcare, Legal, Admin, etc. (meaning everything), my goals are:

To establish container/retainer practices for IT and Healthcare where we already provide value to our customers. This is a culture shifting activity because it requires a different mindset than brute contingency primarily as it revolves around relationship management - more strategic listening and consulting.

To develop a consulting practice to assess the recruiting strategy and processes (this has been my bread and butter for years) and make recommendations for improvement

To establish a recruiter training unit that dovetails off above

To review, establish and manage a comprehensive branding and social media strategy that works for recruiters, companies, and potential new employees

You can't tap someone out by just using a frontal attack and you can't establish a relationship by not visiting in-person. Challenging times call for tossing your tried and true up in the air and looking for new angles.
What working on update: I just received 3 openings from direct client looking for management levels of:

Marketing Manager - Web SEO, SEM
Manager Video/VOIP

25% fee/90 day guarantee - that's roughly 18 openings recently this week to work on - a mixture of contract/ CTH and direct hire openings -- nose to the grindstone
Like some of the others who replied, I don't have time for a long reply either(yes Dean the nose must be to the grindstone), but great topic. You have to stick to your clients and your niches and fill their most difficult needs. It takes more work today, but the right course is to do more of what you do well. It can be very dangerous to spend too much time and energy going in a new unproven direction for you. That is the kind of thing that is done with a small part of your time on a consistent basis over the long haul. If you want to develop an additional niche or market, that should be well thought out and be a small part of your system. Partnering with others where your skills and abilities fit well is a great thing to do and there are a lot of good people that want to do the same so you can build some great working relationships at a time like this. It's important to make sure that these arrangements still have you focusing on what you do well already.
I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your super responses and great recommendations - this is what community is all about.

I'm going to keep an eye out for everyone's posts here as well, and if I can be of any assistance (or for a laugh), I vow to give back where I can :)
Well, yesterday a split partner called me with 2 more openings - Peoplesoft HCM Manager and a Sr. SW Engineer. The first one is 25% fee, the 2nd one is 30% fee. Split business is alive and well and it can help you and your partners in these times. I think this puts me at around 22 openings just this week to work on and this will be my last post. Happy Valentines Day!

Good posting. I do think it is important to find out what is going out there these days. I have personally seen a shift in the amount of positions needing recruitment as of late. My firm specializes in both contract and permanent placements and our permanent business has definitly slowed down. Companies just aren't looking to grow these days (except a few) like they were a few years ago. My location however is located heavily in the heart of the Canadian Government which is an industry that always has contracting requirements and an endless supply of revenue so that business will always be strong in my market.

In terms of types of positions, .NET roles are extensive, PeopleSoft, SAP and Security seems to be on the rise.

Good luck in everyone's searches!

- Tom

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