We’re already a week into 2009, and everyone else has already
published their predictions for the year. In the spirit of
better late then never, here are a few of mine:
2009 will be a painful year for recruiters.
It’s obvious, but how could I leave this off the list? We’re in a
recession, and as employment numbers continue to fall it will get
worse for recruiters before it gets better. When will the
turnaround come? Hiring typically lags behind corporate profits,
so don’t expect recruiting activity to pick up again until after
companies’ profits start rising again.
There will be less of us. As was pointed out
to me today on the Recruiting Animal Show, I'm old salt in the recruiting
world at the not-so-tender age of 34. The last
time I saw our profession contract was in the recession of 2001,
when we simply had too many recruiters trying to fill too few open
positions and thousands of professionals moved on to greener
pastures. The strong and the lucky will once again survive, and
those who are not at the top of their games will move on. In the
last recession, many went into real estate. This time it will be
Recruiting stocks will rebound. As an
industry, the public companies whose businesses connect people
with employment opportunities will rebound before the year is
through, including Monster, Taleo, Dice Holdings, Kenexa, Manpower and
Spherioin, barring any issues specific the individual
companies. If the economy is so scary, why predict
a rebound? The stock market is a forward-looking discounting
mechanism, and in the next few months I expect the worst
expectations to be priced into the stocks of these companies, and
for investors to begin to look forward to better results in the
future. On the other hand, Workstream will finally be delisted.
Social Media will play an ever-increasing role in our
personal and professional lives. Yeah, this is a safe
one. There are still plenty of people whose lives have not been
touched by Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter and others, but there are
less every day. More and more, it’s where people, young
and old, are communicating and managing relationships, and smart
recruiters always fish where the fish are. Also, the pace
of innovation in Social Media will not slow down any time soon.
Why? Because even though venture capital money is drying up does not
take much capital to build these things.
Social media overload/backlash. With social
media innovation continuing at a blistering pace, we are
constantly being barraged with new, cool-sounding social tools and
networks. There are only so many hours in the day, and we are
forced to pick and choose the services that best meet our
lifestyles and objectives. In the fight to stand out from the
pack, implicit promises are being made about why every single
service is the best. Inevitably, people are going to be
disappointed with those that do not live up to expectations. The
best will continue to grow, while the ones that do not stand out
from the crowd will quietly go away.
Social networks will make finding a business model
their top priority. They’ve proven that they can attract
huge audiences, but here’s a pop quiz — which of the
following social networks made money in the last year — YouTube,
Facebook, or Twitter? Not a single one. And in this economy, not
even Google, YouTube’s parent company, can afford to have a
money-losing property. Finding a solid revenue source to sustain
their torrential growth will be the goal of every major social
…and the medium-sized players won’t make it.
The biggest networks have or will raise enough investment money to
give them time to find workable revenue models. The truly tiny
social networks will find their niches and targetted advertising
dollars will follow. It’s the medium-sized services — the Facebook
wannabes — that are going to fall by the wayside, being snapped up
on the cheap by acquirors or simply going out of business.
Vendor shakeout. It’s not only the social
networks that will see a shakeout. This year will be brutal on the
vendors that serve our profession. Less hiring = less recruitment
spending = less business. Layoffs, consolidation, and bankruptcies
will be norm until things stabilize later in the year. The
strongest, and those with the best relationships with their
customers, will survive.
Recruiters will try to shift towards the most
cost-effective tools. Not the cheapest, but the ones with
the most return on investment. Of course, recruiting departments
do a notoriously poor job at measuring their own results, so I
expect to see a lot more focus on metrics and measurement. Expect
plenty of debate over how to properly evaluate recruiter
performance and industry metrics in the next few months.
Reading back over my list, I am struck by how almost every single
prediction hinges on the state of the economy, and I guess that
sounds right to me. I can think of nothing that will be an bigger
influence on our professional lives in the coming year.
I know this all sounds gloomy, but it’s always darkest before the
dawn. We’re already a year into this recession, and nothing lasts
forever. When the smoke clears, we’ll be back in the growth part of
the economic cycle — and they are always boom times in
What do you think the new year will bring? Let’s hear it in the