There is no such thing as recession in the recruitment industry

Following Mervin Kings (Head of the Bank of England) comments yesterday about the uncertain times ahead, I thought I'd share my recession (I have been through about 4, yes I am that old) experiences and advice.


Recessions like the seasons are a naturally occurring things, they come in cycles and like all seasons, they have their spring and summer seasons, where growth sprouts and blossoms and blooms and everyone in happy and makes hay while the sunshine's.  But then comes autumn and eventually the winter seasons and things become begin to die and then the winter sets in and all growth appears to stop. 


However, as a recruiter, things need not be that way, even in the darkest winter, in the dark and coldest places on earth things are growing and developing and its down to you as a recruiter to find those growth patches and cultivate them for your own needs.  Whether we are heading out of recession or back into recession the following comment was the one thing that focused me more than anything else.


'There is no such things as a recession in the recruitment industry, only a consultant who cannot find a market that is growing'


Now more than anytime in your career it is time to get back to basic's.  Lead generation is the start of the recruitment cycles, so if you want to find a market that is buying, find others who are searching for that market and asked them for directions (candidates ladies and gentlemen, know the way, like a Tom Tom only better). Then approach your target market, but bring something to the table, don’t just feed off them as they will turn you away from their table, you must bring something to the party.  Bring your knowledge of the market, trends, client intelligence etc but most of all bring a professional approach, above all else give the client a genuine reason to use you, as they will have so many people trying to dine at their table but there is only room for one.  Will that one be you be?


In the dark days don’t forget what you have grown in the past, yes they might have died away, but when spring comes, and it will come, it always does, green shoots appear and they will grow back.  But they need feeding as well, so look after them as they will be your harvest of the future.  If you leave them alone completely, someone else will tend your crop and transplant it to another garden without your knowledge.


So irrespective of the market, we could be heading into recession, we could be heading out of recession, albeit slowly, one thing remains!  Things will grow, even in winter, there are things that will grow, in every type of market there are companies growing and getting bigger and as a recruiter it is your job to find those markets and cultivate them.  Remember it is winter here in the UK, but it is summer in Australia, but things are still growing in the UK, so find where the spring and summer seasons are in your market, and make it grow for you and also find those dark corner because when times are hard it is in those corners where the grow occurs, so remember:


'There is no such things as a recession in the recruitment industry, only a consultant who cannot find a market that is growing'

Tough times dont last, but tough people do.


Views: 489

Comment by Suzanne Levison on December 2, 2011 at 11:06am

I've seen the ebb and tide throughout the past seventeen years as well.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 2, 2011 at 11:12am
Good post Howard and probably brings a smile to those of us who have been through many ups and downs in this business. I guess those of us who proudly wear the scars of battle can attest that you are very correct. Tpr's perhaps have more options to survive and prosper than our internal counterparts who are at the mercy of management decisions to reduce head count when there is no need to hire.
Comment by Howard Greenwood on December 2, 2011 at 12:15pm

Hi Morgan, thank you for your comments, I think your remarks have hit the nail on the head.  The reason sales people get laid off is pure and simple, they are not achieving thier sales targets and making money for their company, therefore by default, they have not found a market that is recruiting.  No right minded sales organisation will ever lay off successful sales staff. Dont get me wrong, successful sales people do feel the pinch, but they never enter recesssion, they always have a market that is recruiting. 

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on December 2, 2011 at 1:34pm

Well, Howard, if you are a general recruiter, have people manning multiple desks in various industries, you are probably right.  But if you are an industry specific recruiter, say, travel, airlines, advertising, banking, brokerage, real estate, or any of the recession hit industries you are totally wrong.  However, anyone who is in those industries, as I am, knows that you have to be creative, expand your business and figure out how to attract new and different clients.  This has been a horrible time for many recruiters.  I can tell you that the big retained firms have all laid off and shrunk.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 2, 2011 at 4:44pm

@Morgan  I had two of the best years i have ever had during that time period.  As a generalist who has been around a long time i switched to a focus on a niche in healthcare that was expanding during that period, moved away from some of my previous clients who were slowing down.  Rather than keep trying to get blood out of a turnip i looked around for who was doing something and went that direction.  We are fortunate to have been around a long time and are deeply networked so we had the flexibilty to shif gears and directions.  I am glad however that i did not have a staff of junior recruiters with less than 15 years experience.


I saw a lot of my recruiter buddies fighting to stay afloat during that period and some who didn't make it but it was because they were not able to shift to another niche either because the firm they work for doesn't do that or they couldn't make the shift.  So call me a liar if you choose but i just ain't lyin. 

Comment by Howard Greenwood on December 2, 2011 at 6:20pm

Some interesting comments from Paul and Morgan, I too am a Niche market recruiter specialising in IT, so I have seen the boom and bust times on more than one occasion.  Like Sandra during these down turns I had some of my best years, I went niche niche and found the markets that were recruiting and where other recruiters were not.  Yes I have seen recruiters go to the wall, yes I have seen good recruiters slow down and not bill as much as before, but guess why.

Because they were to ridged to adapt, to scared to spend the hard dark hours lead generating for new business, developing new pipelines of niche market clients.  This not only made sure I grew during the recession periods but when the market improved, it meant my personal business accelerated, fast.

So back to my point, recession removes the weak from the market, it leaves the battle scared new and old who continue to believe 'there is no such thing as recession in the recruitment industry, only a consultant who cannot find a market that is growing'.

Each Monday, in the darkest days of recession, as your self this question, how many people in my markets started a new job today?  In every market, even during recession people are starting new jobs, it just a matter of this, did you place them, or did your competitor?

So if you build your business around one or two key clients and do not develop new revenue streams, then you will have to lay staff off, if however, you develop new revenue streams constantly, as one door closes another door opens.  No matter how good a client or a market is, it has a defined shelf life, so you either refresh your shelf with new products or go to the wall.

Sandra I salute you, your not a lair, you are a new business sales consultant who refuses to let others hold you back. I choose not to lay down and let the doom and gloom devour me, I stand tall and do something about it each and everyday.


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