I learned a lot from the last two, so let me give you some quick ideas
about how to fight back.
First, take a deep breath. If you're resilient, persistent and willing
to make a few adjustments, you'll do just fine. You may not make as much
money in a slow economy, but that's okay-you're in survival mode now.
I'm hoping you set aside some of your boom-market earnings for a rainy
day, because that rainy day is here. If you didn't, you'll know to do so
next time, since all markets are cyclical.
The good news is, you're still in business. Now is the time to dig in
and gain market share as your competitors struggle. When things pick
up-as they always do-you'll be great shape, ramped up and ready to
To prepare yourself for the immediate future, here's a preview of coming
attractions, and how to deal with some new job-market realities.
1.Poor-quality candidates won't cut it. In a
candidate-driven market, people with average or marginal skills are
generally acceptable to employers. No more. From now on, you'll need to
be much more selective, and associate yourself with a higher level of
2.The 80/20 rule flips upside down. In a strong
employment market, companies hire in duplicates. In other words, they'll
fill multiple positions that require the same set of skills. So 80
percent of your placements can come from 20 percent of your clients. But
in a weak economy, companies trim the fat and eliminate overlap, which
means that your next 10 placements may very well come from 8 different
clients, or even 8 different skill sets.
3.Waste not, want not. Now's the time to improve your
presentation skills, learn new ways to handle objections and concerns,
and close like there's no tomorrow. With fewer opportunities to make
placements, you won't have the luxury to do sloppy work or let
placements slip through your fingers.
4.Follow the money. Beating a dead horse is fine if you
like the exercise. But if there's no pulse in your niche market or no
demand for the skills that would normally define your desk specialty, be
receptive to new opportunities-even if they take you into new or
During the 1991-92 recession, I made the switch from filling mid-level
engineering positions to filling sales and marketing jobs. In 2002, I
switched my desk again, from sales to general management and
director-level roles. Why? Because that's where the market took me.
I'm not suggesting you jump ship in the hopes of finding a pot of gold.
But when times are tough, it makes sense to keep an open mind and add
value wherever value is needed.