Hang in There: Hiring Improvements Ahead

At the risk of sounding naïve, but having been in this business through three recessions, there is daylight at the end of the tunnel and for once, in my opinion, it isn’t a train.

As we all know, the recession was declared on the downward slope several months ago, but hiring never kicked in. The good news of the waning recession means little to us without hiring.

My firm was fortunate; we work in a niche that was affected less severely by the recession: placement of military personnel who are leaving active duty. Yet we felt the sting like everyone else.

We place candidates by geographic targeting, which requires speaking with business leaders and business owners located in specific cities and towns across the USA when marketing our candidates. Up until last month, almost all our placements since 2008 have been for created positions. Business leaders told us they did not have any openings when we contacted them, but they created the job for the veteran. These businesses had not planned on hiring anyone until our call.

From Fear to Optimism
In October 2008, we heard “fear” in the voices of most business leaders. In October of 2009, we heard “fatigue.” Now, we are hearing “cautious optimism.”

Companies are telling us they have actual plans to hire, but do not know when, because of uncertainty about the future. Barring another disaster, I believe that by October of this year, we will be coming out strong from the worst three years in staffing industry history. If human nature takes over, as it always does, employer “fear or hiring” will become “fear of missing out,” which will mean another war for talent, not a war for jobs.

The stock market and housing markets continue their slow-but-steady climbs, layoffs are no longer the main news of the day, and people are buying (American) cars again. As was the geography surrounding Mt Saint Helen’s in Washington state, which was completely flattened and laid waste by the volcano’s eruption, our economy is slowly turning green again. Confidence is climbing.

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I joined this industry in November of 1984, at the tail end of the highly recessionary Carter years. My first 60 days on the telephone were characterized by “cautious optimism” from employers, but very little hiring.

Suddenly, in January of 1985, almost overnight, and seemingly without explanation, companies began scrambling to hire people. Our industry experienced its greatest growth ever from 1985 to 1989.

For the same reason economies crash, fear, economies roar back. People who know me know that I’m not the “rah-rah” type. I am a realist. Also, as a former Marine, I believe in these two maxims: “What doesn’t kill us strengthens us,” and “The hottest fire makes the strongest steel.”

Congratulations! If you are reading this, and the recession did not push you out of this business, then you survived probably the toughest period you will ever face in this industry. You were strengthened by adversity, tested, and will be forever stronger to face with confidence whatever comes in the future.


2 Comments on “Hang in There: Hiring Improvements Ahead

  1. Neil- Nice post!!! I’ve read your posts throughout the years and you always bring good optimism. One thing I noticed in your post which got me curious, you mention created positions in your industry. No idea how or what you do but to get a company to create a position and pay a fee in this past economy, wow power to you and what you do, you should do seminars or something teaching what you do 🙂 In 10 years of doing this business with a decent placement ratio I don’t think I have ever seen a mid level position created with a fee attached to it even in a good economy.



  2. Thanks, Rick, and I am glad that you have read my posts over the years. What we do to make created position placements, even in a bad economy, is select the “right” transitioning military candidates and present them to the “right” companies located within a 30 mile radius of where they desire most to live after the military. The art is in the selection of the candidates and selection of companies to call to present them to. It needs to be taught, because many of the great people we place are mostly ignored by other recruiters, and many of the companies we place with are companies which never thought they would ever pay a fee…good or bad times…until they met the right military candidate. I do teach placement consultants/firms how to place military. Thanks again.

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