How to beat the economic blues

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 by

With news that the UK is likely to feel the negative effects of the credit crunch for at least the next six months and with many hiring companies admitting that times are tough, here’s our take on how to beat the economic blues… “It’s the classic model,” says Suzannah Chapple, Chapple Director, “when the economy slows, people stop recruiting yet there’s still the same need to get the job done as there ever was.” “While this dichotomy creates uncertainty amongst job seekers- should they stay put or should they go? – the good news is there is always a core need for talented, quality people.” So, what to do? Well, according to Suzannah, this million dollar question very much depends on your industry sector, whether you are permanent or interim and, of course, whether you are a client or candidate. “Generally speaking, my advice is to exercise caution when resigning during a downturn if you are a permanent employee – and still want to be”, she says, particularly in the banking industry.” Companies are hiring less (demand for staff increased at the weakest rate for 55 months according the Recruitment & Employment Confederation*), so there are less potential jobs available in the marketplace and if an organisation gets wind that an employee is looking elsewhere then there are no prizes for guessing who’d be first on the list come redundancy time… Even permanent staff who do move on must be prepared to deliver results more quickly, say in a three month probationary period rather than six”, according to Suzannah because employers are more likely to be looking for new hires to cut costs, increase sales, and improve productivity that much more quickly. The same is true of cultural fit. “You must consider the potential negative consequences of moving more carefully than you might during more stable times,” she says. Conversely, if you have real belief in yourself, know your market worth and are determined to land a new permanent role, an economic downturn means there are fewer candidates in the melting pot creating an ideal opportunity for the truly talented. Suzannah remarks “there are still opportunities out there to exploit if you know where to look.” It seems that some are prepared to look further afield than others. Alison Taylor, Chapple’s PR and Communications recruitment specialist says she’s experienced a dramatic change in people’s mind set in the last week alone, with permanent staff staying where they are, clients experiencing empty posts as a consequence of candidates escalating nervousness and some middle management candidates using the uncertain economic UK climate to accept positions abroad, particularly Asia and Australia. For interim staff, however, gloomy economic forecasts are unlikely to cast a shadow on your job hunt, in fact, it seems, quite the reverse. Interim staff – this is your time to shine! Reports by REC* and KPMG showed that whilst growth in demand for permanent staff is falling, temporary staff appointments continued to grow. “Recession always presents opportunities for new markets and new ventures,” says Alison. “The last time we experienced recession, it opened up the market for freelancers (before working for Chapple, Alison was a founding director of the online freelance recruitment company Xchange team) and we’d expect the same again.” Suzannah agrees. “Because the economic downturn means there’s more reluctance for permanent employees to move, employers consequently have less choice and are more open to interim candidates with transferable skills. It’s a win-win situation; savvy temporary staff can exploit this situation to accrue new experiences, perhaps adding a new industry to their CV and developing their skill base whilst clients get their empty positions filled,” she says. Carpe diem.