Recruiters… ‘The sky is falling’

Wow! It’s hard to hide from all of the economic doom and gloom shoved down our collective throats over the past few weeks… Greece and Spain are going to tip Europe over the edge…The Chinese juggernaut is pulling up faster than TV ratings for ‘The Voice’… and poor – very poor – job data has come out of the US.

The sky – if not falling – is definitely darkening…

Share prices over the last week have taken a global battering, Doomsdayers have predicted GFC II, and even Grace Jones could only afford half an outfit and a hula hoop to wear to the Diamond Jubilee concert – Camilla silently congratulated herself on a near miss, as she was set to wear the same outfit before Charles pooh-poohed the idea…

Maybe…just maybe…the sky is falling…

Then we take a look at the local Recruitment industry. Back in mid-May Hudson made ‘a number’ of redundancies across its Australian offices. And yesterday FiveTen Group closed its Melbourne and Brisbane branches of their Accounting and Finance arm Marks Sattin, after closing their Hong Kong office in March…

Hmmm… maybe the sky really is falling…

Ok. Enough of the negative talk! I’m going to tell you all why (in my humble and optimistic opinion), just like Chicken Little, Henny Penny or Goosey Loosey  we are not, in fact, experiencing a full blown falling of the sky – but rather some heavy (but passing) acorn showers.  Sure, they may dent the car, smash some windows and cause a few concussions, but believe me – this is not actually the sky falling…

Reasons, why the sky is actually NOT falling…

  1. The Australian economy continues to outperform the rest of the developed world.  Our latest unemployment rate (Apr 2012) sits at 4.9% – as against UK & USA both at 8.2%, NZ at 6.7% and Spain at 24%! As recent as yesterday the Wall Street Journal heralded Australia’s economic credentials
  2. Australian Recruitment companies are actually expanding rapidly in terms of headcount.  Our Australian clients including: Boston Kennedy, SHK, Davidsons, Aspect, Bluefin Resources, McArthur and Constructive (just to name a few) are all investing heavily in growth.  Have you noticed that the brands that are cutting back on headcount are almost exclusively the global agencies under cost-cutting pressure?
  3. We’ve already been through it… remember back in 2008/09? Almost everyone in our entire industry was too young to have experienced a ‘downturn’ of that magnitude, and we didn’t really know what we were doing. We lost almost 40% of the entire industry to closures and redundancies.  But guess what?  The industry learnt from this.  We are running skinny, we have moved – on the whole – away from Account Management, Resourcer and non-billing Manager roles to end-to-end (360 degree) Consultants.  There is no fat to trim, not costs to cut and no non-revenue producing roles to make redundant.
  4. There is an insatiable appetite for Australian resources in Asia and beyond, (that’s right – the stuff we take out of the ground).  Whilst the ‘mining boom’ continues, our economy will benefit.  Sure, commodity prices may fluctuate, but let’s face it – there will always be buyers for our ‘stuff’…
  5. Our banks are stable.  Ok, they are not hiring and they often fail to pass on the full interest rate cuts (Ba&@*rds!!), but they are strong and profitable – unlike their European and US counterparts.

So, before hysteria takes hold, before you mourn the loss of another outsourced ‘call centre’ and before you write off the Recruitment Industry – take a deep breath… and focus on the things you can control, like how many clients and candidates you speak to each week, understanding the growth opportunities in your sector and making sure you have blocked out the 3 months after the Olympics for the return of Big Brother (remember it’s moved to the nine network this time around)…

And, above all else remember… a day without sunshine is like… ummm… night.

Craig Watson


9 thoughts on “Recruiters… ‘The sky is falling’

  1. Isaac Gerstman on Reply

    Wow. That’s a real eye-opener. I didn’t know that Marks Sattin Melbourne and Brisbane went under. Thanks for the info.

    1. Craig Watson rec-to-rec on Reply

      Hi Isaac – Official word is that they were both profitable and operating well – but global cost cutting pressures called for efficiencies across the board and the ‘powers that be’ decided that all of Aust could be run out of Sydney…

  2. toscamasterGordon Alderson on Reply

    Well written Craig.
    A few thoughts.
    When the times are a bit more difficult it’s time for us all to sharpen our axes.
    How about aiming for quality AND speedy service? What can we do to help our Hiring Managers to cut through (in say 15 minutes) to what they really want us to find in exemplary candidates. That way we will deliver what they really want without wasting their time interviewing people who don’t fit their needs.
    The Mission:- “Stop spraying and praying”

  3. Dani Tamati on Reply

    Fabulous comments as always Craig…. words of wisdom for us all in the industry to take into consideraton.

  4. Rob Mulholland on Reply

    Good stuff, but I wouldn’t be quite so optimistic about the mining boom. Iron & coal prices are softening, ore is piling up unsold in Chinese ports and the big boys are putting a lot of projects on hold for the moment. There are a lot of mines opening in Queensland this year (and even more in WA) and so the ‘insatiable’ demand of the last few years is close to being met. That doesn’t mean that the economy will crash as the treasuries will be benefitting from the taxes and royalties on all the soon to be producing mines, but it will ease (to some extent) the current skills crisis in the mining industry as construction finishes. Hopefully the governments will be putting some of the cash into infrastructure projects that can spread the wealth around a bit more.

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