March Forward. Stay the Course.

Apr 1, 2008

Recession. Election.
Slumping Job Index.
Increasing Unemployment Rate.
Diving Dow.

It is tough to stay the course when media messaging is telling us everything around our economy is calling for a slow down; and, in reality, the only real choice any of us have is to stay the course. While the course might shift and change a bit, the course we know – the work hard, stay focused, make contacts course remains the same. When the going gets tough, the real men and women of the staffing industry get tougher. As in the past, a recession serves as a course correction and, as in the past, the strong will get stronger, better, faster; and the weak will go find something else to do.

The Strong Company, Recruiter, Staffing agents’ job is to analyze their business, what is working, what is not; it is their job to analyze their clients businesses and fully understand what is happening with their end users, as it is the end user that provides all of us with work in the first place. It is the astute staffing and business person’s responsibility to look out to the future with a curious and open eye and accept the changes that are occurring in business overall – both at home and globally. It is the discerning and strategic staffing industry thinker’s job to deal with the reality of the changing FLAT world; from globalization, out sourcing and off shoring to RPO, Selection, HR Consulting and everything in between. When conditions for change are right, the astute staffing industry business person has a tremendous opportunity to make their stake and claim their market share; if they are indeed open, astute, innovative and grounded in the reality of the world 2020.

It is the innovative business minded staffing leader’s job to pave the way for the needed transformation that is required to compete, sustain and grow in the next 5-10 years. It is the responsibility of each of us as industry professionals to own our power, heighten our awareness of the business world at large and make course corrections that strengthen our personal and our industries position in the global war for talent. It is our job to improve and expand our industries viability, marketability and service offerings.

The time is NOW to THINK and ACT out of the box.

I just had the opportunity to speak and participate in the Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum. Over 700 Staffing Leaders from all over the world participated in this 3 day strategic advancement event. Even with the challenging business outlook; from economic issues, labor issues, insurance issues, a key theme among the leaders I spent time with was to manage the present while planning for and taking action for the future.

Between the sessions, the coffee talk, the round tables, the speed networking, the cocktail conversations I met some remarkable people. Several new RPO & Off Shore start ups; and who was running them, people like me and you who saw the future and went out and took some of it for themselves. Over and over again, the statistical data was clear – Temp Staffing/Contract is not predicted to grow, Perm is predicted to grow, RPO growing and capitalizing on the economy as well as their internal economies of scale. HR Consulting is growing.

All of the major staffing players’ stock shrank in the past year; yet the ones that continue to look strong are the ones offering Professional level Direct Hire (Perm) like Executive Search, Accounting and Finance, Health Care and the ones offering services like RPO, Off Shoring entire departments, and Out Sourcing entire departments. Off course Light Industrial and Office Support/Clerical are not growing, they are clearly shrinking and if the author, Thomas L. Friedman of the World is Flat was right, they might eventually be shrinking to the point that companies actually completely outsource their entire LI operation to other countries or local outsourcing companies. These companies would manage the whole thing from start to finish. In Office Support we see it with Xerox to name one; they used to sell copiers now they manage wholly the copy, mail clerical, and reception areas within a company and they are considered part of facilities budget.

While there are certainly staffing doors shutting for some in our industry; there are certainly many more doors opening in several new and innovative capacities; if we open our eyes and accept that the change is inevitable. It is very inspiring to see companies that are taking advantage of the world’s economic condition, the global climate and stepping in and making things happen to serve their clients’ needs. These strategic thinkers are taking the future into their own hands and claiming their stake in the ground. While they are opening up new offerings, they are demonstrating their business savvy and they are making a statement to the business world that they are strategic advocates and advisors in the human capital and workforce management field.

Given I just sold my office support staffing and placement company to a Light industrial company who was seeking to raise their margins and service offerings; I saw, heard and felt first hand how one door closes for one person and opens for another. Even though it was time for me to move on, for my buyer this was his answer to building his company’s economic profile as well as reputation. He is so energized by the changes in the industry, he is adding office support, direct hire, off shoring and eventually professional placement.

While I have been up and down in my quest to sell my staffing company and move towards my new passion; it was the commitment I made while setting my annual goals that gave me the fortitude and discipline to march forward in selling my ‘staffing baby’ and launching my ‘Internet, software & consulting baby’ While the industry is the same, the job is different; and with change comes fear (at least for me). It is interesting to me that I did not even realize that it was fear driving my attitudes and behaviors around selling my business; however after the deal is done I see that the nothingness of walking into a new door somewhat freaked me out. After my week with the Staffing Leaders, any fear that I had about closing a door after a 23 year career was quietly put aside as I continued to hear affirmations and confirmations that my new business is a key component to the industry’s market position going forward.

Everything I have learned and believe in from Organizational Development, Retention, Candidate Selection, Assessments, Behavioral Interviewing, RPO process to the War for Talent, Generational influence, Candidate & Client buying styles, Market dominance and selling systems are absolutely needed services as the business climate shifts and as the world continues to get flatter. Recruiting firms, Direct Hire, RPO, and Staffing Firms who look for market differentiation will seek for key products and services that aid to their unique selling position and position them as strategic market leaders in the human capital, talent acquisition, and workforce management field. The buzz around the changes, the needs and the staffing worlds future eased my fear of nothingness and catapulted my enthusiasm times ten.

So for you. What are your goals? What are your market shifting ideas? Where are you today? Where do you want to be in 5 -10 years? What is stopping you? What are your overt and or hidden fears that might be running your thoughts? If nothing was in the way, what difference would you be making with your clients? How big?

Take April, and use it as a time to course correct, we are 4 months in and everything around us is swirling. It is up to you to stay your own course, march to your drum beat and achieve what you set out to do, regardless of what is happening outside your door. We have all seen times like this before and we all for the most part make it out better people. So, the question is what will you cause and implement in the year 2008?

Best of Success
Margaret Graziano, – 1888-keenhire