Are you recession proof?
Everyone fears a downturn. Are you prepared if the market goes south?
With the stock market fluctuating and the world in turmoil, people fear a recession, even with record low unemployment.
In fact, 77% of Americans believe a recession is one of the threats to their current job, according to Monster’s 2019 State of the Candidate survey.
And their fears aren’t unfounded. About half of business economists believe the U.S. economy will see a recession by the end of 2020, and three-quarters predict it by the end of 2021, according to a survey from the National Association for Business Economics.
“People have been speaking about this pending downturn for at least 18 months now, maybe longer,” says Kenneth Johnson, president of East Coast Executives in New York City. Johnson has some perspective on the situation, having weathered both 9/11 and the 2008 recession as a recruiter.
And according to leading economist Alan Beaulieu, who correctly predicted the 2008 recession, there’s a reason to be prepared, if not concerned. He says we’re headed for another short recession, and in 2030, he thinks we might actually experience a financial depression.
“In 2020-2021, you’ll be busy, and in 2022, we’ll go through a painful but short recession. Throughout the rest of the 20’s you’ll be happy. But, we’re going to have a great depression in 2030,” he warns. “If you’re not prepared for it, it will wipe you out. If you’re a millennial, you can make a fortune from it. If you’re a Gen Xer, you can easily survive it.”
And if you’re in recruiting, there are definitely steps you can take to prepare for it. We spoke with professionals who’ve weathered other financial downturns and industry experts to get advice on how to shore up your businesses so you’ll survive economic uncertainty.
How recruiters survived the last recession
A downturn is hard for many businesses, but these talent professionals found ways to overcome a rocky jobs market. Here’s how they came out on the other side.
They transitioned to steadier clients
When 9/11 happened, most of Johnson’s recruiting clients were financial services firms, and all his orders were put on hold. In the aftermath, he shifted his focus to consumer goods clients instead. “We started supporting people who were operating in that space because we believed that no matter what was happening, people were still going to consume products at a pretty relative pace,” Johnson says. “That kept us afloat until the market changed.”
They targeted clients with aging workforces
Even in a down market, older workers are still retiring, and companies still had to replace them. “Regarding public transit and utilities, in some cases, 30% of their workforces were eligible for retirement,” Johnson says. “They maintained hiring mode as the norm.”
They focused on larger companies
“The smaller, venture capital-backed companies were having a difficulty obtaining funding, whereas the large-cap, publicly traded revenue-producing companies had capital,” says Stephen Provost, a managing partner with Sanford Rose Associates. “So we cozied up to them and rode out the storm.”
They were flexible
Because capital was difficult, some companies were hiring contractors instead of employees. “So we shifted, and although a large part of our business had not been in contracting, we started offering that as a service,” Provost says. “Because that’s what the market was looking for at the time. I think we’ll shift a lot faster next time.”
How recruiters should prepare for the next recession
No matter when it happens, it pays to be ahead of the game. Try these strategies to stay afloat.
Deliver the best customer service
If you’ve got longstanding, high-growth clients, take good care of them. Make customer service a priority, at every single point of your organization that touches your customers.
In a downturn, this “will create an opportunity for you with those customers,” says Joe Galvin, chief research officer for executive coaching company Vistage Worldwide. “And once you’ve ensured that you’ve got your customers in great shape, turn and look at the vulnerable customers of your competitors.”
Cement the company culture
Workers like to feel that they’re a part of something, and that cohesiveness can keep you together in a slowdown. “Your culture is your organization’s gravity,” Galvin says. “It’s what keeps the people you want to be a part of your organization attached to your organization.” Make sure you continue to reinforce it.
Get close to clients
Meet with clients regularly and get to know them on a personal level. Ask them how their family is or how their recent vacation went.
“Establishing that personal connection will strengthen that bond when there’s a downturn,” says Mohammad Siddiqui, founder of CareerRocketHub.com, a company that helps workers land their dream positions.
“When it comes to cutting some of those recruiters off, you want to be at the top of the list to be kept on.”
Build your brand
Use your time now to work on name recognition and brand familiarity. “Write articles on LinkedIn for areas of recruitment and trends, so candidates know the recruiter brand and contact them when they are ready or want to move,” Siddiqui says. “And comment on internal recruiter posts to build familiarity and rapport.”
Be a rockstar
“Companies are really going to do their best to retain their top performers,” says Jennifer Brick, a career success coach at Capdeca Solutions.
“It’s not always feasible, but if you’re a clear, outstanding, high-potential person at your company, they’re going to try to find a way to keep you.”
Plus, you’re likely going to be known by other companies as well, so headhunters will be able to find you.