According to the American Staffing Association, the recruiting business has realized double digit growth after each of the past three recessions. Like prior recessions, when this bear market hit, employers focused on cutting cost, workforce reduction, and hire freezes. Surviving companies in the current market have retained only their strongest people. Much of this attrition will prove positive for firms that have used or are using this opportunity to eliminate unproductive employees and trouble makers.
A recovery is imminent. Businesses will thrive again and consumers will consume. Economists have highlighted several indicators that show a slowing rate of decline and many sectors have shown some kind of uptick. This week, the head of the Federal Reserve proclaimed the end of the US recession. If the end of the recession is in sight, what should companies do, right now, to position themselves for a successful rebound?
If historical data is a road-map, we should consider the recession set off in 2001 after September 11th. In that recession, companies moved quick to shed their workforce. Layoffs and hire freezes became common place and organizations value fell in rapid succession. Employers delayed growth initiatives, hesitated to invest in anything, and new start ups were scarce. Some sectors like travel and hospitality thought they would never bounce back.
However, experienced and savvy companies that reviewed their history books, took advantage of the talent surplus before June of 2003, when a recruiting war began and companies were aggressively filling empty seats to compete in the bull market recovery. Similarly, inexperienced and fearful companies failed to act quickly. They overspent, and lost out on the best talent. This is how companies end up with unproductive employees and trouble makers.
Smart and savvy firms will prepare now for post recessionary growth by making an active decision to capture bright, insightful talent before demand returns. It would be wise to develop a large candidate pool in each of the functional areas or labor categories that drive the business of the company. Not just sales people but developers, analysts, technical, management, and marketing professionals. The wider the net cast, the greater the chance of catching the right fish. Professional recruiting firms can develop the pool so that companies only talk to interested and qualified talent. Smart companies won't behave poorly while shopping for talent. (see my It's an Employers' Market blog)
Decisions are being made right now to be smart and savvy or frozen and fearful. Companies that choose to build a pipeline of talent and start shopping for a growing workforce will be miles ahead of the companies that wait and see. Choosing to wait for things to turn around will prove to be a costly mistake. The demand and fight for talent will be expensive. Don't wait for double digit growth to call your trusted recruiting firm.