Recruiter Survival Tips

Sep 22, 2008

Highly paid corporate recruiters working in the financial-services industry and recruiters who spend the day mining job boards will face an uphill battle landing a new position. As the financial services industry goes through another round of crises and hiring slows throughout the country, recruiter job security is waning. Some suggestions:

  • Show off creative sourcing techniques. According to a talent acquisition leader at a major New York bank, some of Lehman Brothers’ top talent was off the market before the ink was dry on the bankruptcy papers. Recruiters will need to demonstrate that they have a network of contacts in competing firms and can reel them in.
  • Provide metrics showing your value. Corporate recruiters from the big Wall Street firms will need to demonstrate their value or be willing to take a haircut to land a new job, especially if they relocate. New York salaries outpace the rest of the nation, according to Crain’s, and the current shakeout is certain to drive those down.
  • Explain how you can hold the line on costs. “Businesses are looking for cost-of-hire reductions,” says Kevin Huston, director of service delivery for TalentFusion. “Corporate recruiters will need to show that they have successfully driven down the cost of hire to be marketable.”
  • Go where the jobs are. Healthcare, education, and government have been stable throughout the economic slowdown, and the mid-size suppliers of goods and services to companies within each industry have also been hiring. They require aggressive recruiters who can deliver candidates without the benefit of a powerful recruitment brand. Life sciences and renewable energy were hot industries for executive search firms during the first quarter of 2008. The security and logistics industries are also projected to continue hiring. The outsourcing industry is stable right now because some clients haven’t been hiring, but RPO bid activity is robust and the industry may pick up some new contracts from reorganizing financial services firms. Huston says that sometimes RPO firms absorb the company’s corporate recruiters when they land a new engagement, but those decisions are contract-specific. He cautions that salaries are often lower than at corporate recruiting jobs. Staffing firms are always eager to land a hot recruiter, but if you want to work in search, you’ll need contacts because you’ll be expected to bring in job orders and candidates. “Search firms expect you to work a full desk, so recruiters will need to come in the door with clients in their pockets,” says John Pelconin, a contract IT recruiter assigned to State Street Bank. “Information technology is pretty hot, but it’s saturated, so you’ll need some good skills to compete.”

And then there is financial services. Not every bank is in trouble. Some regional banks and commercial banks are still doing well, and accounting firms have been hiring. The government’s mortgage bailout operation may also offer some opportunities for recruiters who want to stay in the industry. The Wall Street Journal lists the projected industry survivors.

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