Main Specialty Area

Last year, we stopped producing our special issue on specialties since all of that information is readily available through Internet resources. Instead, we queried a number of readers about their particular niche and asked for their opinions regarding that specialty. Readers liked that format so much that we have repeated the survey this year.

Real recruiters expressing real results about their particular practice area gives a more realistic picture than the macro opinions from the marketplace in general. We appreciate the candor of respondents and thank them for their contributions.

2007 was a great year. There has been no lack of job opportunities in most areas. I see 2008 as even better. Despite the sub-prime mess, I have not received any indication from any of my clients that they will be hiring less or laying off. In fact, this year has started off with a bang.

My biggest frustration is that clients aren’t pulling the plug. I have candidates who have gone through the first or second round interviews a month ago and still no response from the client. This happens for various reasons. Change in management, they want to interview other candidates, and just plain slow moving. This is something I haven’t seen in a while. Maybe it’s just “first of the year adjustments”. I don’t know, but it’s hard keeping candidates, and myself, interested in these positions and companies. Even my candidates have complained about it with jobs they are interviewing for that didn’t come through me. They wait and wait to hear back from employers.

Susie Yager, President
Career Consultants, LLC

Our office has two areas that we specialize in: Traditional banking, which covers mostly higher-end revenue-generating positions, and wealth management.

Both areas were very strong in 2007, experiencing record growth. We expect a similar year in 2008 but with some concern. The effects from the sub-prime lending area will probably have a trickle-down effect on our markets. The business will still be there for sure, but there won’t be as much low-hanging fruit like we saw in 2007. Our business plan for 2008 reflects this so we are prepared (just in case).

Eric Armstrong

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We specialize in Food and Beverage manufacturing. 2007 was a good year and right in line with the previous few years. The clients we have had for many years kept us busy, so I don’t have a great feel of the entire market. I expect the same companies will continue to give us all the business we can handle.

We did work a little with some new companies in the industry last year. We continue to see some companies request lower fees (20% is becoming a more common number, although we turn down everything below 25%). These same companies are very rigid with their process. They aren’t as warm to the candidates and they don’t value the recruiter. Each year we see companies working harder to avoid paying a fee – meaning they are trying to fill it on their own before contacting us.

One of my frustrations is receiving job orders from affiliate search firms at 20% (I have seen some lower than that) – and I already have the job at 30%. If that firm is making money at 20%, more power to them. However, it isn’t healthy to our industry. I have found that in the cases where I have the positions as well, we fill the jobs – and the other firms don’t. Just because a firm offers a lower fee doesn’t mean they provide the same service. This can sometimes be very difficult to explain to a company. As you know, when some firms offer a 20% fee, the industry starts asking others for the same fee.

Relocation is becoming a major issue. Candidates are worried about having to sell their homes in a sluggish market and the possibility of having two mortgage payments. Companies are being asked to pay sign-on bonuses if they don’t pay Realtor fees. Companies that aren’t willing to help more than normal are losing good candidates.

Name withheld at request

Paul Hawkinson is the editor of The Fordyce Letter, a publication for third-party recruiters that's part of ERE Media. He entered the personnel consulting industry in the late 1950's and began publishing for the industry in the 1970's. During his tenure as a practitioner, he personally billed over $5 million in both contingency and retainer assignments. He formed the Kimberly Organization and purchased The Fordyce Letter in 1980.