Hiring in a recession – the asymmetric market

In reality, I’m not that old (quiet at the back, please). But I certainly feel it when I realise that this is my third recession – maybe my fourth. I talk to people every day who have never seen this kind of market; or who perhaps have vague memories of 2007. The question is always, how to hire in a recession?

To them, this feels like the world is ending. But in reality it’s part of a cycle.

In 2007, in 2001, in the early 90s and I dare say before that, recessions came around, and we’re there again.

And it’s not the case that no-one’s hiring; but hiring is reduced. The hard reality is that the jobs market gets horribly out of shape. You end up with an asymmetry – lots of candidates out of work and looking for a job, and companies trying to hire people with particular skills that they can’t find. (There are other asymmetries too – have a look here)

The skills on the market aren’t the skills the market needs.

So what can be done?

I’ve been putting content on LinkedIn all this week about how candidates can help themselves find a role. They need to demonstrate their specialism; they need to differentiate themselves from other candidates in the market by showing how they can solve a particular problem for a particular company. That will get them hired.

Companies have almost the opposite challenge. In recessions they tend to be looking to do very particular things – whether restructure or respond to market opportunity.

The temptation is to look at the jobs market, see loads of candidates, and think they can just find the perfect person (and probably at half the money).

Now I work with companies to help them find the candidate who has the exact combination of experience, domain expertise and technical capability. So I’m biased. But a lot of the time what companies really need to do is get a bit more realistic. The temptation to look for the perfect candidate can prevent them from hiring anyone at all – and in recessions, timing is everything. Hanging around waiting for perfection is often worse than not hiring.

So candidates need to specialise, companies need to be ready to hire more of a generalist. That’s how to hire in a recession. Like everything else at the moment it feels topsy turvy but there it is.

And obviously, all of you should be calling me. I can help put this all together!

Browse Jobs Submit CV Submit Vacancy Contact Justin

Other Posts...

A few crucial hires will be the key to success in 2021

13th December 2020

Read More
2021 – The Year of the Expert?

13th December 2020

Read More
The challenge of getting the Job Description right

4th December 2020

Read More
Recruiting – do you need a person or a process?

16th November 2020

Read More

What our Clients & Candidates Say

  • Candidate – placed as Project Manager

    Justin contacted me with reference to a vacancy at Atkins.He guided me through the process with excellent results. I can not thank Justin enough for his support, integrity and super service.during this time. Thanks again.

    - Candidate – placed as Project Manager

  • Candidate – Placed as IT Manager

    Justin is an extremely enthusiastic and dedicated professional. He has a unique knowledge and in-depth experience of the IT sector and candidate market. He provides a credible and commercial resourcing service to the business. Rather than throwing CV’s my way he absolutely gets our vision. Justin has a real knack for understanding the needs of the business and sourcing quality candidates to match those needs. His approach is refreshing and he is an absolute pleasure to work with.

    - Candidate – Placed as IT Manager

  • HR Director

    Alastair was introduced to us as we had a senior recruitment need. I was really impressed with the time Alastair spent getting to know our business and our culture so that he understood the uniqueness of what we do. This was a new role to us and it was important to get it right. Alastair was able to balance ours and the candidates needs and worked with us not for us which is where other recruiters, I think, go wrong. I felt in control of the process from beginning to end and nothing was too much trouble. I would recommend without hesitation.

    - HR Director

  • Contractor – placed as Project Manager

    The terms under which Justin worked very hard to ensure that my weekly timesheets were processed so quickly, far surpasses all of the other agencies that I have worked for in the last 25years – top marks!

    - Contractor – placed as Project Manager

  • CTO candidate

    Alastair demonstrates the perfect mix of a professional and personable approach to drive successful outcomes for both clients and applicants. He spends quality time in understanding the challenge and provides excellent support with a real attention to detail. As a result is he perfectly suited to help navigate complex recruitment scenarios whilst building trusted and long term relationships. An absolute pleasure to deal with!

    - CTO candidate

  • VP People

    Justin and I have worked very closely on a number of particularly challenging and complex campaigns. As a business woman I appreciate the work he puts into the twin perils of senior level recruitment - 1. sourcing quality candidates and 2. ensuring he keeps them interested in our opportunity through what is nearly always a 'long and winding road'! As a person I appreciate Justin's candour, sharp observations and his sense of humour. Through what are often fairly knotty propositions, we have fun and get the job done.

    - VP People

  • IT Director

    I've worked with Justin off and on for 7-8 years and in recent times he has become my "go to" recruiter, having placed 20+ staff, with the businesses I've lead . Finding a recruiter that values the strategic relationship, satisfaction and well-being of his client, over the commission of making a placement, is a rare thing. Combined with Justin's adaptability to the needs of those he is working with, his flexible approach and candidate quality - you have a winner. Justin takes the time to understand the dynamics and personalities within the businesses he is recruiting for and finds candidates that fit the qualifications needs and culture of your business. I'd recommend Justin and Vocative to any technology company looking to find great talent and work with a likeable, professional and effective recruiter

    - IT Director

  • Client (CIO)

    Having worked with Justin on a number of assignments both at my current organisation and a number of those that I have worked at over the past few years I am please to recommend him and his organisation as an excellent provider of quality candidates to fulfil your entire IT sourcing needs. Justin becomes an extension to your organisation when seeking new talent on both a contract and permanent basis as takes the time to understand your organisations workings before searching for and matching the skills you need. Justin balances the technical, cultural and interpersonal skills of each candidates so the fit your requirements very closely and prepares each candidate before they even walk through your door so they have the best possible chance when faced with attending an interview. Justin fast tracks the process of hiring new staff by only putting forward the right sort of candidates first time so you don’t need to go through hundreds of interviews before finding a shortlist of possible candidates that fit.

    - Client (CIO)

  • Interim CTO

    Alastair has been easy to work with, professional in what he does and very much on the ball when it comes to placements. I would recommend working with Alastair and look forward to doing so again myself in the not to distant future.

    - Interim CTO

  • Client (Head of Recruitment)

    I first engaged Justin when I was recruiting manager for Microsoft Australia. Because of the quality of his work, he became a preferred vendor and we used him repeatedly to source technical people for product support, technical evangelism and consulting. Justin is a straight shooter, builds and effectively leverages an impressive network and operates with integrity. I would have liked to have hired him to be an employee but he prefers to be an independent agent. I would work with Justin any time, either as a client or as a candidate.

    - Client (Head of Recruitment)