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It’s a Recession: Should You Stop Hiring?

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ItThroughout the recent global economic boom that started with the rise of the technology sector in the late 1990’s, organizations across every industry spent a great deal of time, energy, and money vying for top talent. Employers had to dangle all the carrots they could find including higher-than-usual starting salaries, accelerated raises and promotions, and stock in the organization.  Retention bonuses were commonplace. No perk was too extravagant as companies sought to land the right people, and to keep them happy once they were in the door.

Now, with the current contraction in the economy, companies across all sectors are downsizing in record numbers. With the ranks of the unemployed growing and daily news of more layoffs, many employees are wondering if they are next to go.  All of which begs the question: Should your company stop its recruiting efforts?

The answer is a resounding NO!

It is not all doom and gloom out there!  In fact, many industries within Canada are poised for growth through 2009 and beyond. The key thing to remember in a bear market is that, although the economy may be hurting, you still need the right talent to manage and grow your business.  In fact, there is arguably even more pressure on you to find the right mix of experience, pragmatism, and vision for the key positions in your company in tough times. Moreover, the reality of the labour market in Canada is that there is still a shortage of skilled workers and this trend is predicted to remain in place for the foreseeable future. The competition remains to fill the gamut of technical and leadership positions.

Successful hiring in a recession is not as simple as some hiring managers believe.  The thinking is that, as unemployment rates rise, there will be more candidates on the market and attracting the right people should be easy.  What is usually overlooked is that many companies use the cover of an economic downturn to layoff marginal employees—to clean house, in effect.  In a tough economy, most companies will (and should, if they’re not) make every effort to keep their top performers. The result is a glut of weak talent in the market that increases the challenge of picking the right candidate out of the crowd.

Looking at historical numbers, unemployment remains below 3 percent for those with college degrees, and below 2 percent for those with critical technical skills. While many talented people are lying low during the downturn, those people with the right mix of skills and talent always have plenty of career options and remain difficult to recruit and retain in any economy.

Remember, its all about getting your hires right the first time. Spending the time and effort now on hiring though solid recruitment practices will not only help you get through the tough times, but will result in dividends once the recession is over and your company is well-poised for growth with the right people in place to lead your company into the future.

Reprinted from Verticle Bridge Corporate Consulting.

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