Right around this time of year I always seem to have a soft spot for the slightly (or severely) disadvantaged. For some reason March Madness is something I can't pass up and I always love a good Cinderella story. Which got me to thinking - there are underdogs everywhere, not just in sports, and in times like these it must be tough to be in the shoes of the little guy.
Clearly recruiting feels the sting of a bad economy, and I'd wager to say it makes things very tough for the 'mom and pop' shops to stay in business. Sure, the national (sometimes international) powerhouse job shop firms who employ thousands of robot-like recruiters worldwide will weather the storm. They may have to cut back in an area or two, but they will likely still be around and doing rather well once things turn the corner.
But what of the little guys?
The smaller shops can't hang their hat on huge placement numbers like the big boys. They don't have the luxury to quickly change industries, or refocus parts of their team to the hotter areas. Unfortunately it seems to me that the smaller shops are usually the ones who understand the personal nature of our business the best, though. The success or failure of a deal is far more personal to these folks because it is not just the next paycheck, but potentially their very livelihood that can be affected. These are the people who still send hand-written cards to their best customers, make personal visits whenever possible, and actually care enough to learn about the people they do business with. Their customers and candidates alike are more than just a number, a metric, or the next fee.
So what does this mean? Are we doomed to be overrun by the industry Goliaths that care more about metrics than personal service? I, for one, sincerely hope this is not the fate our industry is meant to suffer. I root for the little guy, and in this case, I really hope that those recruiters who understand what it means to build and maintain a relationship can weather the storm. They are the ones who deserve all the success they can handle.