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December 16, 2009 / Mervyn Dinnen

Optimistic recruiters don’t create jobs. Growing companies do.

Ask a jobseeker what they want from their recruiter and the chances are they will say, in one way or another, truth and honesty. Obviously they want us to find them a job, but – surprise, surprise – they know that there aren’t many around. In fact I sometimes think that jobseekers are a lot savvier about the market than many recruiters.

I’ve been following some discussions through LinkedIn and Twitter recently and I see little fact or detail but a lot of optimism and confidence. One thread, involving a mix of recruiters, trainers and online recruitment was summed up with this particularly depressing comment:

‘Jobseekers can return from a well-earned festive break to a veritable alpine snowfall of newly-budgeted vacancies’

Just think about that comment for a moment…hidden within the word ‘jobseekers’ are 2.5 million unemployed people, almost a million of them aged under 25, some still struggling to find their first job. Are we, recruiters, really telling them that a Christmas facing the desperation, desolation and uncertainty of continuing unemployment is a ‘well earned festive break’? And even if we don’t say it, do we really believe it?

Are we really saying that in January they will face ‘a veritable snowfall of vacancies’??

Is this what recruiters honestly believe?

With only 10% of companies planning to hire in the next 3 months (which means that 90% are NOT planning to hire)

With 50% of companies maintaining wage freezes/cuts (meaning they can’t really recruit until they can return their existing staff to full pay and benefits)

With 42% of companies who are not operating  a recruitment freeze already saying that will REDUCE recruitment in 2010.

With GDP in excess of -5%, and a public debt of almost £200bn??

Is this Honest? Is it Responsible?

Recruiters don’t create jobs. Growing companies do. And companies grow when there is demand for their goods or services.

We are a long way from growth. Recent reports from leading businesses in retail and leisure talk about demand not returning in any strength until 2012, hence a stagnant job market.

We can all talk up a good quarter. Spread some confidence to colleagues.

We’ve just closed our biggest quarter for 2 years, and we’re certainly working on a lot more roles on than we did 9 or 12 months ago. But then I also spend a large part of my days speaking to unemployed candidates.

It’s when unfounded, casual optimism is passed on to candidates that I get upset. The job market is a particularly tough, unforgiving battleground at the moment, and NO recruiter should forget what that means to candidates who need to work, to feed families, pay mortgages, restore dignity.

I spoke with one candidate yesterday who said ‘when I speak to you I know you’ll tell it to me straight. I know it’s bad out there, but some recruiters just keep telling me that things will be picking up very soon. They’ve been saying that all year and it hasn’t happened yet! Do they think I’m stupid? What planet are they on??!!’

What we say to candidates during their job search is as much a part of candidate care as how we treat them when they apply…if your business model has to rely upon an unfettered wave of optimism, then make it responsible optimism!

(Note: Figures quoted above are taken from the recent CBI/Harvey Nash employment trends survey 2009 see page 15)

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2 Comments

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  1. @HRMargo Margo Rose / Dec 18 2009 12:28 AM

    Great Post. in your post you said, and I quote:

    With 42% of companies who are not operating a recruitment freeze already saying that will REDUCE recruitment in 2010.”

    This is a scary statistic, and may indicate that indeed the recession is not going to be over in the coming year. If 90% of the companies in the UK are not hiring. Candidates and recruiters alike will need to carefully strategize their next steps. Your post is well written, eye opening, and showcases your extraordinary expertise Mervyn. Well done.

    @HRMargo Margo Rose http://hrmargo.com

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