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Ooh, he was such a handsome man“, said my mum yesterday about “The Gambler” singer Kenny Rogers. She also says the same about Wet Wet Wet’s Marti Pellow, and Glasgow Rangers stalwart Ally McCoist. This, however, is not a blog about what tickles the pickle of a 65 year old woman. Instead, it is about the crossroads Recruitment firms now face.

Since the peak of the pandemic, although complain as we do, us New Zealand-based Recruitment firms have been on easy street. Yes, there has been a severe lack of candidates, but I will always argue that a candidate short market always favours the Agency recruiter. We have seen a spike in revenues across the board, Consultant salaries have reached, quite frankly, ridiculous levels, and most recruiters haven’t even had to pick up the phone to bring on a client in over 12 months. If you’ve just completed your first year in Recruitment, understand this: It doesn’t get much better. For us as a “Rec to Rec” supplier it’s been an interesting time. Recruiters, well-paid and well-looked after, have been nigh-on impossible to move. However, when we can get them to look elsewhere, they’re snaffled up like a tramp on chips. Interview processes were short, and Agency clients were decisive. Give me an IT Candidate Manager and I will give you 4 offers.

This week, for the first time since Covid, I’ve noticed a change.

With a global recession looming, high interest rates, and a lemon costing more than illegally sourced depleted uranium, for the first time in a long time, I’ve noticed a couple of recruitment firms gently dab the brakes. For the first time in a long time, a role has been paused. For the first time in a long time, I’ve had to put a bit more thought into where I might put an IT recruiter.

I’m not panicking however. I have felt this sense of cautiousness in only a handful of our clients. And when speaking to these clients, they themselves have not (yet) felt a slowdown in the market. They are simply “waiting and seeing” how the next couple of months will unfold. And this is where we face a decision. Do we hold, or do we double-down?

Well, even for a “taste of your whiskey”,  how the f*ck do I know? If the global recession is deeper than expected, advantage goes to those firms who can keep wage bills low, offices small, and overheads at a minimum. They reduce the risk of going bust, and more realistically (as well run recruitment firms should never technically “go bust”) maintain that enviable record of not laying off Consultants when times are tough. This is of course, good for morale. They can then emerge, like a spring flower, and blossom in the sunshine of a post-recession economy. If, however, the recession in New Zealand is as shallow as many expect/hope for, then they have a problem.

Most of our clients are currently taking a different view. As opposed to looking to the US and Europe, they are looking to the 50+ vacancies on their white board. These firms are ignoring, or at least disregarding global forecasts and are pushing for growth. If they are correct, and the recession is small and short, these firms will put daylight between them and their more cautious competitors. Whilst other firms wallow in their dingy offices staffed with 4 crumpled-suited recruitment cynics, these firms will be snorting cocaine out of chorus girls bumholes in Bora Bora. If this lot are wrong however, it’s pot noodles and P all round.

Personally, I like to treat bad news the same way I treat skin rashes and David Seymour; just ignore it and it might go away. The market will certainly be tougher this year, but this is purely in relation to how f*cking good it’s been last year. Good recruiters will still bill good money, and if you see one you like, you should offer them a job before someone else does. But given it’s how I make my money, I would say that right?

Anyway, which way do you think we’re heading?