Optimism Growing, Startups Returning. Could Hiring Be Around the Corner?

Optimism returned to the recruiting community in November. That’s what my informal survey here in San Diego at ERE’s Expo tells me.

In conversations, people say things like, “We were told last year that we would start hiring again” or “I started seeing reqs from departments that I hadn’t heard from in a year.”

The vendors on the show floor are more specific: Business inquiries picked up noticeably by November.

After hearing three or four of these comments, I started my survey. An hour ago, Ethan Bloomfield, VP with JobTarget, said “the money started to show up” last summer. But it was November that he noticed “people had better moods.”

Chris Higbee with HireVue, the video interview service, said the recession was a big boost for his firm as companies cut recruitment travel. But by the end of the year, the business driver started becoming managing the expected hiring.

The exhibit hall and the conference attendance bear that out. A recruiter on the phone with a colleague who didn’t make the show was saying how crowded it was compared to last year. She’s right. Attendance is just over 700; at least 30 percent more than the 2009 Spring Expo. The showroom exhibit space is full; some exhibitors have set up in the main corridor.

There are at least three or four start ups prowling the halls. Talk about a change. The last conference I attended had zero start-ups and empty exhibitor spaces.

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YouTern isn’t even yet online, but Joe Gagliano, the company’s CMO and an old friend, was here talking about the upcoming launch of the site aimed at connecting college interns with start-up companies.

No other company is focusing on that slice of the intern market, so there’s some opportunity there, especially for students who want to experience the energy of a start-up and maybe be a part of the next Google or Facebook.

Another startup that’s to launch March 22nd gave me a quick demo and if I wasn’t sworn to secrecy I’d been telling you to get in line now. The company name is a four letter word (not that one. Or that one either.), but you might just want to call it “Wow.”

It’s a social network tool — the words are being chosen here with care, because this is not a social network itself. It will help job seekers use social recruiting in a meaningful way. And once the site begins to get populated, it will make a difference to recruiters seeking Gen Yers.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.