Hang in There: Hiring Improvements Ahead

May 5, 2010

At the risk of sounding naïve, but having been in this business through three recessions, there is daylight at the end of the tunnel and for once, in my opinion, it isn’t a train.

As we all know, the recession was declared on the downward slope several months ago, but hiring never kicked in. The good news of the waning recession means little to us without hiring.

My firm was fortunate; we work in a niche that was affected less severely by the recession: placement of military personnel who are leaving active duty. Yet we felt the sting like everyone else.

We place candidates by geographic targeting, which requires speaking with business leaders and business owners located in specific cities and towns across the USA when marketing our candidates. Up until last month, almost all our placements since 2008 have been for created positions. Business leaders told us they did not have any openings when we contacted them, but they created the job for the veteran. These businesses had not planned on hiring anyone until our call.

From Fear to Optimism
In October 2008, we heard “fear” in the voices of most business leaders. In October of 2009, we heard “fatigue.” Now, we are hearing “cautious optimism.”

Companies are telling us they have actual plans to hire, but do not know when, because of uncertainty about the future. Barring another disaster, I believe that by October of this year, we will be coming out strong from the worst three years in staffing industry history. If human nature takes over, as it always does, employer “fear or hiring” will become “fear of missing out,” which will mean another war for talent, not a war for jobs.

The stock market and housing markets continue their slow-but-steady climbs, layoffs are no longer the main news of the day, and people are buying (American) cars again. As was the geography surrounding Mt Saint Helen’s in Washington state, which was completely flattened and laid waste by the volcano’s eruption, our economy is slowly turning green again. Confidence is climbing.

I joined this industry in November of 1984, at the tail end of the highly recessionary Carter years. My first 60 days on the telephone were characterized by “cautious optimism” from employers, but very little hiring.

Suddenly, in January of 1985, almost overnight, and seemingly without explanation, companies began scrambling to hire people. Our industry experienced its greatest growth ever from 1985 to 1989.

For the same reason economies crash, fear, economies roar back. People who know me know that I’m not the “rah-rah” type. I am a realist. Also, as a former Marine, I believe in these two maxims: “What doesn’t kill us strengthens us,” and “The hottest fire makes the strongest steel.”

Congratulations! If you are reading this, and the recession did not push you out of this business, then you survived probably the toughest period you will ever face in this industry. You were strengthened by adversity, tested, and will be forever stronger to face with confidence whatever comes in the future.

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