If you've never experienced a recession, here are 10 things you should
1. Jobs that made you rich in good times can make you poor in a
recession. This is especially true with mid-level positions, in which
duplications in skill sets or job titles exist within a single company.
2. You may need to switch from a "delivery" business model to a
"value-added" model. If your business depends on delivering mass
quantities of average-quality candidates or you do little to add value,
you'll find it harder to compete.
3. Some job markets and desk specialties will be spared. Case in point:
After 9/11, when job cuts were rampant across the board, certain job
markets, such as defense contracting, construction and legal services,
actually thrived. If you can identify the markets left standing, they
can be your lifeline.
4. The greater the supply of "active" candidates, the more valuable
"passive" candidates become. Since layoffs flood the job boards with
unemployed or marginal candidates, you'll need to brush up on your cold
calling skills and find creative ways to source top-flight candidates
who are currently employed.
5. Employers are more cost conscious. As a result, you can expect more
pressure to reduce your fees, and for hiring cycles to slow to a crawl.
And as more recruiters fight over fewer jobs, you'll need to tighten up
your "ownership" rights to candidates, otherwise you'll fight more
frequent battles over who gets paid.
6. Candidate marketing will become more common. Most employers will
throw out the rule book if you bring to their attention a candidate who
can make an immediate, positive impact. If the candidate has enough
sizzle, employers will find a way to make the hire, even if they have to
create a special position.
7. Your time management becomes more critical. With fewer positions to
work on, you'll need to be highly selective about which assignments will
give you the greatest return on your investment of time.
8. Weaknesses in your selling skills are more exposed. Recessions leave
little margin for error. The better you are at qualifying, closing,
handling objections and making presentations, the more efficient you'll
be with respect to converting activities into income.
9. A recession is the best time to be in the recruiting business. I know
this sounds counterintuitive. But look at it this way: When times get
tough, the weaker recruiters will wash out with the tide. If you can
weather the storm and find ways to gain market share and build your
reputation, you'll be positioned to grow as the market recovers.
10. Cash flow is everything. Learn to control your spending or make cuts
in your budget. Otherwise, you might end up working with your back to
No doubt about it: A recession is a buzz kill. But it can also be a
great teacher, because it humbles you and makes you more aware of your
weaknesses. If you can stick it out and learn from your mistakes, you'll
make tons of hay when the sun shines again, and you'll be more immune to