It goes without saying that when an economic crisis hits, companies start cutting costs and one of the first things they do is stop hiring, however if history tells us something, it’s that once the storm calms, which it seems to always do, the urgency to hire once again becomes a top of mind issue for most companies and the war for talent rages on.
One example of this would be the period of time that followed 9/11, where the economic outlook seemed grim at best. With the United States starting a war in Afghanistan, the collapse of Enron, other corporate scandals rising to the surface, SARS, and the situation in Iraq, there was much to be worried about for Corporate America.
Being a recent grad that was just starting my career in technical recruiting, the experience was painful. Jobs were few and far between, competition was thick to say the least, and as a Technical Recruiter working for an outside agency, finding an excellent candidate with the technical chops and mindset to excel within a client’s environment was simply not enough to make a placement.
During these times, it was feast or famine and making a placement involved identifying and attracting the absolute best candidate in the market for the role the client was looking to fill – and even then, it was 50/50 with budgets being lost at the last moment and projects being eliminated. Not an ideal environment to prosper in, however there’s always a silver lining to any situation and in this case, it was having an opportunity to learn a very important lesson about agency recruiting, an industry that’s often considered a grind even in the best of times.
It was that having a growth mindset, being forward thinking, quickly adapting, and persisting in the face of setbacks, makes it a whole lot easier to prosper and rise above the rest when the times change for the better – which they always inevitably do.
This is definitely not a foreign concept, however I think Corporate America could learn a lot about this when it comes to hiring during difficult times. What seems to happen is that companies choose to avoid risk versus capitalizing on the opportunity to upgrade their staff. Instead of taking advantage of a buyer’s market by cleaning house, assessing the talent gap, and hiring the best and brightest, they choose to retain only their strongest people and let everyone else go for fear of the unknown. This includes both the up-and-comers as well as less tenured but highly capable employees whom, if given the chance to round out their skills, would likely end up being the strongest players on their teams.