Home / HR Strategies / Are you recession-proof?

Are you recession-proof?

Are you recession-proof?

Are you prepared if the market crashes?

With the stock market fluctuating and the world in turmoil, people fear a recession. Even with record-low unemployment, many candidates believe a recession is one of the threats to their current job, according to Monster’s State of the Candidate survey. And their fears aren’t unfounded. 

“People have been speaking about this pending downturn for at least 18 months now, maybe longer,” says Kenneth Johnson, president of E.C. Executives. Johnson has some perspective on the situation, having weathered the 2008 recession as a recruiter.

According to economist Alan Beaulieu, who correctly predicted the 2008 recession, there are many reasons to get prepared. He says we’re headed for another recession soon and, in 2030, he thinks we might experience a full financial depression.

“In 2020-2021, you’ll be busy, and in 2022, we’ll go through a painful but short recession. Throughout the rest of the ’20s, you’ll be happy. But, we’re going to have a great depression in 2030. If you don’t prepare for it, it will wipe you out, If you’re a millennial, you can make a fortune from it, If you’re a Gen Xer, you can easily survive it.”

So if you’re in recruiting, there are steps you can take to prepare. We spoke with professionals and industry experts who’ve weathered other financial downturns to get advice on how to survive economic uncertainty.

Recruiters survived the last recession

Downturns are hard for many businesses, but these staffing professionals found ways to overcome a rocky jobs market. Here’s how they came out on the other side.

They transitioned to steadier clients

Many of Johnson’s recruiting clients were financial services firms when that market was impacted. All his orders went on hold. In response he shifted his focus to consumer goods clients instead. “We started supporting people who were operating in that space because we believed that no matter what was happening, people were still going to consume products at a pretty relative pace,” Johnson says. “That kept us afloat until the market changed.”

Targeting clients with ageing workforces

Even in a shrinking market, older workers retire, and companies need to replace them. “Regarding public transport and utilities, in some cases, 30% of their workforces were coming up for retirement,” Johnson says. They needed to maintain hiring levels to stay afloat.

Focusing on larger companies

The smaller companies were having difficulty with getting investment and cash-flow. In contrast, larger publicly traded revenue-producing companies had capital, says Stephen Provost, a managing partner with Sanford Rose Associates.

Being flexible

Because of uncertainty, some companies switched to hiring on a contract basis instead of full-time employees. “So we shifted, and although a large part of our business had not been in contracting, we started offering that as a service,” Provost says. “Because that’s what the market was looking for at the time. I think we’ll shift a lot faster next time.”

How recruiters should prepare for the next recession

No matter when it happens, try these strategies to be ahead of the game: 

Deliver world-class customer service

If you’ve got long term clients, take good care of them. Make customer service a priority, at every single point of your organisation that is customer-facing. In a downturn, this “will create an opportunity for you with those customers,” says Joe Galvin, chief research officer for executive coaching company Vistage Worldwide. “And once you’ve ensured that you’ve got your customers in great shape, turn and look at the vulnerable customers of your competitors.”

Cement the company culture

Workers like to feel that they’re a part of something, and that cohesiveness can keep you together in a slowdown. “Your culture is your organisation’s gravity,” Galvin says. “It’s what keeps the people you want to be a part of your organisation attached to your organisation.” Make sure you continue to reinforce it.

Get close to clients

Meet with clients regularly and get to know them on a personal level. Ask them how their family is or how their recent vacation went.“Establishing that personal connection will strengthen that bond when there’s a downturn,” says Mohammad Siddiqui, founder of CareerRocketHub.com, a company that helps workers land their dream positions. “When it comes to cutting some of those recruiters off, you want to be at the top of the list to be kept on.”

Build your brand

Use your time now to work on name recognition and brand familiarity. “Write articles on LinkedIn for areas of recruitment and trends, so candidates know the recruiter brand and contact them when they are ready or want to move,” Siddiqui says. “And comment on internal recruiter posts to build familiarity and rapport.”

Be a Rockstar

“Companies are going to do their best to retain their top performers,” says Jennifer Brick, a career success coach at Capdeca Solutions.“It’s not always feasible, but if you’re a clear, outstanding, high-potential person at your company, they’re going to try to find a way to keep you.” Plus, you’re likely going to be known by other companies as well, so headhunters will be able to find you.