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I sometimes blog about key performance indicators in Recruitment. I blog about a lot of stuff I suppose, most of which is barely relevant to recruitment. More likely, my blogs serve as a vehicle for my cheap gags and semi-marxist agenda. Today however is a blog about Recruitment. It’s also a blog about KPIs. Not KPIs in recruitment however, more so Recruitment as the KPI. I will of course try and work in a knob gag somewhere along the way.

There are many ways to measure the performance of the economy. GDP, GNP, unemployment, crane count, traffic count, cost of a capsicum. In our own industry, SEEK and Trademe Jobs like to share nice infographics showing ad numbers versus applications. This is marginally helpful, however is mostly wielded as a weapon to get us to up our subscription and buy more job packs. What I find more useful as a barometer of the economy is a beer with fellow recruiters in Vultures Lane on a Friday lunchtime. There are three reasons I favour this. Firstly, I really like drinking beer at lunchtime. Secondly, recruitment (and recruitment spend) is one of the first things to be reined in the second a CFO gets a sniff of a slowdown. Thirdly, in my experience good recruiters have an innate feel for the way the market is heading. When 50% of your income depends on the whims of the market, we’re the Navajo tracker sniffing the air. We’re Sherlock Holmes. We’re Nostra-f*cking-damus.

I also feel that I’m in a privileged position. An IT recruiter has a feel on where the tech industry is heading. An Accounting & Finance recruiter can tell me about the demand for newly qualified accountants. However, certain industries fair better than others in certain economic conditions. Recruiting Recruiters via Rice & Co however, gives us a snapshot of almost all industries. And our sister business JOYN serves everyone, so perhaps our Spidey senses tingle slightly earlier than some when there’s a shift in the market. Currently, we are in a recession, at least technically. Many economists tell me that the worse it yet to come. However, flying in the face of those who actually know what they’re talking about, I disagree. After a slightly slow few months, this week, I felt a slight tingle in my loins.

Firstly, I should say that this recession is feeling more mild than most. Typically, our agency clients hunker down and aren’t interested in seeing a CV, let alone a candidate. This is not a good time for a Rec-to-rec. This time round however, our clients have still hired recruiters from us. We’ve had to work harder, and clients have been looking for a reason to say “no” as opposed to a reason to say “yes”, but placement have been made. The last two months have been an extreme example of this. I’ve never had so many people at final interview not get jobs. Some of the reasons have been ridiculous. However, with $15k-$20k at stake, I would say that right?? For the first time in a long time, I’ve had experienced, quality IT recruiters who firms are unwilling to take the risk on. As an aside, if you do want to take the risk, drop me a DM. Similarly with our JOYN business, revenue has been OK, but OK doesn’t keep Mr Sean in Champagne and caviar does it? Up until this week, I was resigned to this lasting to at least early 2024.

However, the last 5 days have made me feel cautiously optimistic. And perhaps we have already hit the bottom, and will slowly start making our way back? Firstly, I met with a recruitment agency who are in growth mode, and could take three candidates off me right now. I’m also working with a firm who are looking at making not one but two powerplays down in Wellington. I have another firm looking for a Manager to head up their Talent Management function. On the JOYN front, I received a random call from a CEO of a major healthcare business asking to meet me. As much as I pretend to be a big swinging dick, this is not an everyday occurrence. I had a big Tech firm in Christchurch call me stating they want to partner with us. Slowly, I feel the return of old clients sniffing around my backdoor. It’s too early to call, but this week has certainly put some lead in my pencil.

If I am correct, then this has been a pretty vanilla recession. No riots. No human sacrifices. No need to live in the sewer systems of Auckland. Without sounding like a curmudgeonly old bastard, recessions really aren’t what they used to be. I have a theory as to why (of course I do). Think back to when you were a kid in the 70s or 80s (or maybe 60s?!). The economy was tough, and your mum wanted a new kitchen. Your old man would tell her that she can have one …in five years. Nowadays, we have no resolve. We’re too impatient. We’re quite simply not stoic enough to tighten our belts for long enough to make a recession last. In 2023, we stop buying eggs bene for 2 weeks max before we 1 click purchase a Tesla on Instagram. And voila! A short recession.

Anyway, enough of my uniformed ramblings. Have a good Friday.