I’m not much of a reality TV guy – but I did catch part of the NBC series “I’m a Celebrity- Get me Out of Here” a few weeks ago and as a search consultant – it resonated with me in many ways. Celebrities were dropped off in the jungles of Costa Rica to deal with major obstacles like snakes, huge mosquitoes, tropical heat, thunderstorms and a whole host of other challenges they were not used to dealing with, to see who would survive and be crowned “King or Queen of the Jungle”.
The analogy here is that in the search business we are dealing with an environment that is also full of challenges. A crazy job market and with no certainty on the turn-a-round for starters. To my point, one day the RCI (Recruiter Confidence Index) is up. Thirty days later, it’s down. I truly believe the market is turning… and it’s a message I have articulated to my clients and candidates – and to the market as a whole in previous posts I’ve written . After all – having a positive outlook and remaining upbeat is both exciting and therapeutic for me. It’s the way I roll, and it’s how I’m wired. I always try to find the good in every situation. I would rather remain upbeat and positive rather than the alternative. The caveat is that I don’t know when things will turn for sure and find it hard to fathom that anyone can forecast exactly when we will see meaningful signs of improvement.
Many recruiters are riding out the storm, keeping their head down working – while others have been hammered by the industries they serve. It’s not their fault. I sense that the number of recruiters that are actively working on search assignments is shrinking each month. It’s all about survival for many as we ride out the storm anticipating a positive tilt in supply and demand. Bailing out too early could prove to be a bad strategy. Let’s face it, for some, in recent weeks the search business has improved somewhat. And…I think it will continue to improve in the weeks and months ahead. Hopefully things should be moving in the right direction by Q4 and as we roll into 2010. Our business is up over the two previous quarters and I’m bullish on a recovery. I’m just not sure when that will happen.
So why are some recruiters running to the helicopter pad now? For some, it’s simple economics. Others have made the decision to listen to the media (daily) for inspiration (NOT). Some just choose not to deal with adversity. Some call it FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Here’s the problem, once FUD sets in, the downward spiral starts. It becomes very difficult to turn things around and before you know it – it’s out of control.
Hey – it’s painful to not be busy or worse – take an economic hit below the belt. Many experts say when the market turns, many of us will not even know it until the recovery is in full swing. The heat in the jungles of Costa Rica is fraught with pitfalls (bad weather, snakes, bugs and other elements). So is the search business (cancelled searches, lower retainers, hiring freezes etc). No doubt, this economy has been challenging – even for the most seasoned recruiters. But I believe if one has been in this search storm for this long, it’s better to ride out the storm instead of leaving the jungle prematurely. The recruiters that remain will reap the rewards when demand replaces the current slump in talent acquisition. It will happen. In the meantime, recruiters should be providing significant value to their existing clients by offering services that may not yield a fee. Improving service levels and adding value is really a key differentiator – and clients will remember you over your competitors that only think in transactional terms. Trust me!
So…there is a chopper waiting to take you back to safety if you decide to leave. You might consider stoking the fire, slapping on some more suntan lotion, unfold the mosquito net, spray on a bit more OFF (Tropical Fresh preferred) and keep a watchful eye out for things moving below your feet. Do your very best to protect yourself from all of the elements that are lurking in the jungle. But stay. That’s right – you should hang in there just a bit longer. Soon, the clouds will open and the market will recover. I can see it now and I can’t wait!
Tim Tolan is a partner at Sanford Rose Associates and specializes in Executive Search in Healthcare IT. He’s a closer, and you really don’t want to call him unless you’re ready to bring out the bazooka to bag some big game. When I started Fistful, I checked four references on Tim – his wife, his kids, his pastor and a client. The references were great, even if it sounded like they were reading from a sheet of paper. I just chalked that up to them being “detail oriented” in their feedback….