Categorized | Job Hunting

Recruiting Industry on the Rebound?

Posted on 25 November 2008

It’s no secret that the boom economy has begun to fizzle out. Witness the barrage of worrisome media reports: Massive layoffs at technology giants, slowdowns in the manufacturing sector, dot-com closures, and more workers filing for unemployment benefits.

But what does this mean to recruiters? While sources in the recruiting industry say they were concerned in the fall and winter, they are now predicting a healthy year as businesses continue to request candidate searches across a broad range of fields and industries. And with some of the “gold rush” mentality gone, recruiters are working under more normal conditions.

Not All Doom and Gloom
Several recruiters in the Boston area report that economic conditions are more realistic this year. New jobs are being created and new companies are starting up, but the sense of urgency has vanished. The new positions, recruiters say, are a result of careful business planning, and are thus less risky for both employers and candidates.

Companies are rebuilding and creating key jobs that will position them for future growth.

Traditional recruiting firms report that it has become easier to attract good candidates now that employees are not being bombarded daily with job opportunities and “grass is greener” messages. “We are back to the late ’80s and early ’90s and this means that the industry is back to normal,” says Dennis Moran, principal of Moran & Associates of Framingham, MA, a professional search and placement firm specializing in tax, accounting and finance specialists. “There are plenty of jobs in accounting and finance and good candidates. It is simply easier to find the good candidates because they are less likely to jump quickly for the latest new economy company,” Moran says.

Shifts Seen in Hiring Needs
Mark Warter, principal of Frontier Partners, a Boston-based firm that specializes in searches for early-stage start-up companies, has seen a shift in hiring. “Some companies are laying off across the board,” he says, while “others are bringing in marketing talent to find new and better ways to increase sales.” Warter has seen less demand for financial and telecommunications professionals, but adds that clients in industries that are not as market-dependent—such as health are and higher education—”continue to have a steady need for professional employees.”

Echoing those observations is Susan Kelly, a 25-year recruiting industry veteran and principal owner of S.D. Kelly & Associates of Dedham, MA. Her firm conducts searches that relate to the electronics industry. “Things are very different. I am finally able to take a breath and follow up with my wide network of clients,” says Kelly.

As the frenetic pace has eased, some companies are refocusing on long-term needs, Kelly says. “During the boom, manufacturing was racing to keep pace with orders. There was little time and fewer resources allocated for business development,” she says. “Now these same companies are rebuilding internally and externally. It may feel like we are standing still. Yet, the reality is that companies are rebuilding and creating key jobs that will position them for future growth.”

Currently, Kelly is filling senior-level positions in design engineering, sales and marketing. She notes that employment packages have changed. Salaries have remained the same, but stock is not awarded as freely and is often promised after performance goals are reached.

For Candidates, Patience Is A Virtue
Whether search firms specialize in new or old economy recruiting, it is clear that the recruiting industry is holding its own. There have been shifts in hiring as business needs have changed, but the volume of job opportunities is steady. Employers are taking their time to make hiring decisions. They’re still looking for good candidates, but they can be more selective about employees and more conservative with perks and stock.

That means job candidates need to be patient and more resourceful. They’re being forced to think more carefully about long-term career growth before leaping into a new opportunity. So shelve those dreams of getting rich quick with outrageous expectations for stock options, and hunker down instead to acquire solid experience while the economy rebuilds and rebounds.

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