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The Recruiter's Digest
 Recruiting News, Training & Commentary by Bill Radin

October, 2008

How to Fight the New Recession

Here we go again: Another soft economy.

I learned a lot from the last two, so let me give you some quick ideas about how to fight back.

First, take a deep breath. If you're resilient, persistent and willing to make a few adjustments, you'll do just fine. You may not make as much money in a slow economy, but that's okay—you're in survival mode now.

I'm hoping you set aside some of your boom-market earnings for a rainy day, because that rainy day is here. If you didn't, you'll know to do so next time, since all markets are cyclical.

The good news is, you're still in business. Now is the time to dig in and gain market share as your competitors struggle. When things pick up—as they always do—you'll be great shape, ramped up and ready to prosper.

To prepare yourself for the immediate future, here's a preview of coming attractions, and how to deal with some new job-market realities.


Poor-quality candidates won't cut it. In a candidate-driven market, people with average or marginal skills are generally acceptable to employers. No more. From now on, you'll need to be much more selective, and associate yourself with a higher level of talent.




The 80/20 rule flips upside down. In a strong employment market, companies hire in duplicates. In other words, they'll fill multiple positions that require the same set of skills. So 80 percent of your placements can come from 20 percent of your clients. But in a weak economy, companies trim the fat and eliminate overlap, which means that your next 10 placements may very well come from 8 different clients, or even 8 different skill sets.




Waste not, want not. Now's the time to improve your presentation skills, learn new ways to handle objections and concerns, and close like there's no tomorrow. With fewer opportunities to make placements, you won't have the luxury to do sloppy work or let placements slip through your fingers.




Follow the money. Beating a dead horse is fine if you like the exercise. But if there's no pulse in your niche market or no demand for the skills that would normally define your desk specialty, be receptive to new opportunities—even if they take you into new or unfamiliar territory.

During the 1991-92 recession, I made the switch from filling mid-level engineering positions to filling sales and marketing jobs. In 2002, I switched my desk again, from sales to general management and director-level roles. Why? Because that's where the market took me.

I'm not suggesting you jump ship in the hopes of finding a pot of gold. But when times are tough, it makes sense to keep an open mind and add value wherever value is needed.


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