Someone posed a question on the bulletin board a bit ago... and my comment turned into a blog.

Subject: "6 months and no nothing...what's going on?"

Well folks it's been 6 long months since I opened the door to my nice new office here in Orlando, FL and well...I see it coming to a close right before my eyes. With thousands and thousands gone for websites, rent and supplies here I am humbled.

There was a time when making $100k was fun and challanging but in the end you got your an experienced person in the staffing & recruiting game for the past 9 years and well.....I have nothing.

More and more people have fallen off, clients aren't responding and well...the economy sucks.

I am sitting here in my nice office as we speak thinking about what should have been and the reality of what now is and how I have now squandered my savings to do something I have always wanted to do at the worst possible time to do it.

Now I need to face the realization that I can no longer afford school for my daughter, my car or my rent..let along my cell phone.

Where do you go from here and with the hell do you get there?

When the going gets tough...

In April 2001, I left the industry for a couple years, having foreseen the dotcom bubble bursting. I spent a year picking up trainwrecks, plane crashes and flood/natural disasters. One week, I was in a nice comfy chair in a skyscraper in Chicago and within two weeks, my office chairs were an 18-wheeler and the seat of a Caterpillar, traveling all over North America. Did it pay as well as recruiting? Hell no. But it paid... and that was better than nothing. Honestly, it was the most ass-kicking job one could imagine, but damn, we were 10 feet tall when we walked into a big mess of railroad cars piled high like cordwood. Up on our feet - no breaks whatsoever - 24 hours a day for 3-4 days. That was work... and it was glorious hell. In fact, I'd dare call it fun. I'll never forget it and if it paid a couple hundred a year and gave more than 3 days off every 60, I might just do it forever. But enough reminiscing. Not everybody can switch gears that drastically. I tend to get a "Hemingway Hair" up my ass now and then and run off for adventure, regardless of how it pays... but this isn't about me. It's about you.

We're all going to have to dump the tunnel-vision glasses and look at the whole spectrum. A few spectrums, actually:

Your entire skillset: where else might it be applied, and in today's market, where is it most needed? One place is sales. The best recruiters are salespeople... and no good salesman is ever out of work. The worse the economy is, the more sales companies need. (Sales, incidentally, is one of the better specialty niches right now should you choose to stick it out in recruiting)

The various industries out there - In a down economy, one business I know of is BOOMING. Startups. Sure, it can be hairy and risky, but the fact is, the more unemployment you have, the more small innovators can afford to hire talent on the cheap. Many of the biggest companies we know got started in the depression or recessions. HP, IBM, DuPont, etc. These founders do need help. No, you can't milk them dry, or they'll be out of business.... and so will you. Yes, you do have to charge less - sometimes 50% less - but you get a lot of mileage/loyalty out of a client you helped to create. In the startups, we follow one golden rule: we're all in this together, sink or swim. Put the success of the startup in the top priority slot, above your desired top dollar. We'll all have time to opportunity to be rich later on. Do this and I can assure you that you'll have plenty of startup clients in short order, because, unlike most firms... you "get it".

The Corporate Spectrum
Many of us - most, in fact - hire in the bottom half of the corporate org chart. Problem is - especially nowadays - so do most of the recruiting companies in the world... and they can do it a LOT cheaper than we can. So, how do we get the edge? We specialize. In a given role. In a given industry. In a given horizontal on the org chart. Anything which makes us a SME. If you only hire Account Execs, Product and Program Managers in the Software marketplace, you can look in yesterday's email and fine 20 candidates who could stomp all over what the average "do-it-all" firm could find if they searched for a month and you'd be far more able to find the right candidate. Become the go-to-guy and you're way ahead of the curve. Also, you can specialize in higher-level positions only... above the level most hire at. There's no way in hell a tele-recruiting firm in the US or India is going to get a job order for an executive, much less be able to fill it. You just cut your competition by 80%. You can cut out the rest in price, service and delivery. I regularly take C-suite job orders from new clients for 50% less than the big exec firms charge. Retained. With a commitment to give me more business if the 1st one is a success. Oh, no, I just made $50k+ and got 2 more retained positions at 25%-30% to boot! Poor me.

Multiple Income Streams
Surely you have close contacts, maybe even social friends who own a business and sell to the same types of clients you do. As long as you're out there talking to clients, why not recommend them? Example: as (dubiously) respected executive in the technology field, I am approached fairly often for "who do you know who does great websites?" or "We're thinking of doing offshore development, but there are SO many out there and I've heard success stories and horror stories. Who is good?"

Currently, I take in 20% of gross billing for every web job I refer to my friend Shannon, who owns an incredible award-winning webdev firm. From Alex, I get 10% of gross billing from his development firm in the Ukraine. I get 20% from Lilian, who has a development company with her partner in Shanghai.. and I get 15% from another form Sam, a strategic partner in India. (I offer all three, because each brings significant and distinct strengths and weaknesses to the table). In year 2, this rate gets cut in half. After that, I get 1-2% as long as they continue to do business with that referral.

Shannon, Alex, Lilian and Sam don't need a sales rep here. Nor do I care if they have 20, because I'm not out there competing with anyone for "new" clients. I just handle my business - recruiting - and keep my eyes and ears open for any opportunity for me to create some add-on possibilities. When I see an opportunity, I make sure there's a substantial chance for a good fit, then put two people together. Now, how much difference is there between this than recruiting? Practically none. How much additional work? Practically none. It's a glorified referral... and it pays rather handsomely. Funny thing is, for over 10 years, I used to give away all these referrals Never eve occurred to me to charge for it. Now, I realize that I could almost quite recruiting and just refer people for a living, but I think I'll just stick with doing both.

These are just a few ideas to help you all out. Others would address efficiency and cutting back expenses, also good ideas.

My best advice to the anyone in the industry is... dump the tunnel vision. See where all you can add value, and what all you can add value to. Then get out there and do it.

Best of luck!


Keep an open mind. Unprecedented results always begin with unconventional methods.

Views: 129

Comment by Thomas E. Romano on March 30, 2009 at 2:48pm
Before you hang it up .. my suggestion is to make contacta with some of the other agencies and see if they will do job splits with you.. you make only get 50% splits or even 1/3 splits but it is beeter than no $$$ coming in..Plus it may help rebuild your confidence.. Also the stimulous packages will start hitting the various states and they will be a tremendous demand for civil engineers, contractors etc.. try networking on ..
Hope this helps a bit!! I am on Linkedin ,,,,
Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will;

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;

When the funds are low and the debts are high;

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh;

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Success is failure turned inside out;

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;

And you can never tell how close you are;

It may be near when it seems afar.

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit -

It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.
Comment by Christian Fauchald on March 30, 2009 at 3:48pm
Great poem. Too bad it's anonymous. It'd be interesting to know what the author is doing now! Hope he/she didn't quit writing. Sad irony that would be.


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