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Recruiters – Just Hang On In There

By March 13, 2020No Comments

There’s a fantastic scene in Forrest Gump. In it, after promising an army buddy on his death bed that he’d set up a shrimping business, Forrest fritters away his savings on a boat. Due to over-fishing from the competition, day after day, all they catch is the occasional gumboot. Then one day a hurricane hits. Riding out the storm, in one of the best scenes of the movie, they return to port to see the shrimping fleet decimated. Cut to the next scene, and we see Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan bringing in monster hauls forever more. It’s great, and I don’t even like the movie.

LinkedIn, the mainstream media, Facebook, and just about every other platform has been full of negativity this week. And understandably so. COVID-19 looks to be worse that SARS, Swine flu, and Ebola combined, and Russia and the Middle-East have caused oil prices to crash. The net outcome is that our economy, and more importantly, our ability to have a nice holiday, is well and truly fucked . I then woke up this morning to hear that the London Stock Exchange has had its worst day since 1987. Europeans can’t travel to the US. The airlines are in trouble. Sporting events are cancelled, and I’ll be surprised if the Olympics happens when it should (and I’ve been training bloody hard for that!). Even the star of Forrest Gump himself has contracted Coronavirus. You couldn’t make it up

But we’ve all had enough of this kind of chat, so no more negativity from me. Not on these pages. I promise.

Yesterday, I attended an oddly inspiring event hosted by TradeMe jobs. Shamubeel Eaqub, who I’ve now seen present a couple of times, and has always been excellent (I understand he likes the occasional craft beer also), gave an overview of the current situation and what it could mean for us lowly recruiters. I didn’t take any notes as I was smoking a doobie at the back, but I’ll summarise what I took from the event:

We will have a recession:

Yep. Production in China has halted, the world’s major stock exchanges have all been suspended at least once. Oil prices have plummeted. There’ll probably be a war. If we don’t fall into a global recession, I will bare my arse in Farmers window.

Don’t panic:

Shamubeel stated that he has experienced 3 recessions in his working life, and he cares less each time. What seems like an apocalypse on day one soon peters out once we realise that people still need food, kids still buy trainers, and the world keeps ‘a turnin’. Even if we look at property prices, which is the thing that gives all Aucklanders a John Holmes-sized boner, a recession will certainly put a pause on growth, but if you’re not looking to sell for a couple of years, you’ll be sweet. Most businesses won’t fold. Some will of course, but it’ll be those trading on the peripheries. And businesses fold everyday. What is important is that we don’t make the situation worse, and we certainly do that when we panic sell our shares or stop buying nice lunches.

Get your business in ship-shape condition:

Mean and lean is the go right now. We’ll probably all have a tough 3 to 6 months, so get your business into a position where you can handle the cashflow problem. And if you can build a business that can weather the storm, then there could be opportunity…

Don’t waste a good crisis:

The best advice of the day. Conversely, this could be the chance for some of us to grow. Believe it or not, more people currently leave the NZ workforce than enter, so the talent shortage is very real, and will continue for years to come. As businesses knuckle down and stop hiring, for those with the balls the size of a cantaloupe, now is the chance to hire the talent you could never land in the glory days. And for those of you selling a product or service, then like Forrest and Lieutenant Dan, now could be your chance to grow market share. As those too fat, lazy, or scared to sail in rough seas fall by the wayside, now could be your chance.

Being a recruiter I am genuinely in high spirits given the approaching zombie apocalypse. The reason? After recruiting for the best part of 15 years, and having spent the last 9 years recruiting recruiters, there is a common trait that all good recruiters have. And it’s the ability to, through good times and bad, just hang on in there. Good recruiters are like cockroaches, and I mean this in a very good way. Good recruiters are survivors. They adapt. They do what they need to do to add value to clients and candidates no matter what that market is doing. Look at it this way: If you have recruited for five years or more, you are a success. You don’t have to be the biggest biller or fill the most roles. If you have survived 5 years without quitting or being kicked out the industry, you should be proud of yourself. In that 5 years, you will have had crap months, crap quarters, maybe even a crap year. You would have rejected candidates who then got the job after applying directly. You would have oversold and under-delivered. You would have accidentally emailed the wrong person or people. You would have screwed up plenty. But you’re still hanging on in there. This year will be a battle of attrition. Like a old heavyweight boxer, you just need to stay on your feet and keep punching. Let everyone else waste their time and energy running around the ring. You just need to still be there in the 12th round to land the knockout punch. Some recruiters will fall, but for those brave, resilient, and talented enough, there will be opportunity and you will survive.

So strap a disabled war veteran into your crow’s nest, plaster a maniacal grin across your face, and ride this one out.