Since my business is focused on the Client Side of permanent placement recruiting, I thought it would be valuable to share what we're experiencing on this end on a regular basis. So here goes...
The last half of December is typically very slow and this year it was the same as it has been in the past, thankfully. To the contrary, the September - October - November period was not even close to anything we had seen in the past. During that period the level of fear that clients reached across the board was higher than anything I've experienced in this business or previous. The number of clients putting on hiring freezes, closing positions, putting positions on hold, saying no hiring for the first quarter or first half of '09, and shutting down the hiring process for a position they had been moving on was unbelievable. I think the best way to describe it is that business in this country was in shock. Clients talked about losing orders and tremendous uncertainty, so they had to pull back and figure things out. My feeling at the time was that the average senior executive or hiring manager was going to walk into his business at some point and say "we've still got to run our business" and that things would start to ease up.
In December, I think we saw that and for this reason I think the worst is over. Early in the month we saw clients creeping back into the process, re-opening critical jobs, interviewing and even a little of the critical push to make the one hire they've got to get done before the end of the year. There wasn't a ton of this, but some. The last two weeks have been close to what we have seen in past years with many people out of the office or preparing budgets and assessing needs for the coming year, but some calling to talk about critical needs that they just can't fill on their own and need help on. We are still hearing more negative responses (not hiring for a while etc.....) than we'd like to see, but at least it's not everyone.
January typically provides a nice bounce with budgets and plans in place and hiring managers returing to work. I believe we are in for difficult business conditions for quite some time (years), but not as bad as we saw this past fall. I'm hoping for a fairly typical January bounce. We'll see.......
Todd Kmiec & Associates
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