What Recruiting Firms are Saying
· Search firms are now strictly working “virtually” with employees in home offices through Zoom, Blue Jeans and GoToMeeting audio-video apps. One consultant I spoke with mentioned that he’d just experienced his first 100% virtual senior level placement, in other words, with no live person to person, face to face meetings. However, I suspect that many other critical hiring decisions will require live, in-person, face-to-face final meetings. This will be determined as corporate travel restrictions are lifted and executives again become comfortable with direct, personal interactions.
· Search firms are currently, for the most part quite busy and digesting backlog. Month-end February YTD was very strong.
· However, there is strong anticipation that new assignment flow will slow significantly over the next 6-8 weeks, maybe longer depending on geography and industry. April will be light and new assignment flow in the latter half of May should be a good indication of how significant a a slowdown we’ll experience.
· Search consultants working in those industries hit hardest (travel, aviation, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, energy, and small business product and service providers and so on) are already experiencing cancelled and suspended assignments and delayed hiring decisions.
· Clients in these and tangential sectors are going into temporary hiring freezes at the mid and lower levels for all but their most important senior level hiring needs. Mission critical senior level searches will go forward.
· General search industry consensus is that annual revenue could be down – 15-30% or more depending on the shape and duration of the recovery and profile of the search firm. Not dissimilar to the disruptions felt during the 2008 financial crisis or the internet/tech implosion in 2001.
· Presently, demand is holding up better in the technology, communications, digital media spaces, as well as in the consumer goods manufacturing and healthcare arenas – sectors that are in a better position to maintain cash flow.
· Operating/debt leverage levels present in corporate America, despite generally strong balance sheets, will produce renewed focus on cash flow, continued productivity gains, and potentially a stronger focus on promoting from within with talent that is already known and trusted while in crisis mode.
Implications for Your Job Search
· You want to be considered for any relevant “backlogged” searches as well as future assignments…launch your campaign, don’t wait. The mid-term future could very well see less open roles/opportunities and if unemployment hits 20% or higher there could be greater competition for potential opportunities. However, much of this potential unemployment will be at lower and mid levels.
· Learn to give great “video”. This is rapidly becoming the new reality. Mock interviewing/practice and objective critique is key. Camera positioning, background, minimization of disruptions are common sense practices often overlooked. Research interesting information about the interviewer before your virtual meeting. Empathize and determine how to establish a human “connection”. Importantly, jump onto the video five minutes before the session starts to preview the video, audio and become comfortable with helpful functions.
· During your job search target industries or segments that are less impacted yet still have relevance to your background. Importantly, refine your “value proposition” and “positioning” so that they are clear and succinct, compelling and differentiated.
· If you have crisis management type experience in your background or other similar occurrences of operating under duress or challenging scenarios reflect this in your resume/positioning
· Newly hired executives and the companies they join will need to rethink “on-boarding” in a virtual world.
· Its never been more important to make sure that your skill sets and knowledge are current and not becoming outdated. Use some of this time to identify your knowledge and skill gaps and shore them up with online courses and certifications.