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Stay The Course

(a version of the following was originally published in the recent Fordyce Letter) March Forward. Stay the Course.

Recession… Election.. Slumping Job Index.. Increasing Unemployment Rate.. Diving Dow..

It is tough to stay the course when media messaging is telling us everything around our economy is calling for a slow down; and in reality the only real choice any of us have is… to stay the course. While the course might shift and change a bit, the course we know – the work hard, stay focused, make contacts course, remains the same. When the going gets tough, the real men and women of the staffing industry get tougher. As in the past, a recession serves as a course correction, and as in the past the strong will get stronger, better, and faster; and the weak will go find something else to do.

The Strong Company, Recruiter, and Staffing Agent’s job is to analyze their business. Find out what is working and what is not. It is their job to analyze their clients businesses and fully understand what is happening with their end users, as it is the end user that provides all of us with work in the first place. It is the astute staffing and corporate recruiter’s responsibility to look out to the future with a curious and open eye and accept the changes that are occurring in business. It is the discerning and strategic staffing industry thinkers’ job to deal with the reality of the changing FLAT world; from globalization, outsourcing and offshoring to RPO, Selection, HR Consulting and everything in between. When conditions for change are right, the astute staffing industry business person has a tremendous opportunity to make their stake and claim their market share; if they are indeed are as open, astute, innovative and grounded in the reality as we know you are.

I just had the opportunity to speak and participate in the Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum. Over 700 Staffing Leaders from all over the world participated in this 3 day strategic advancement event. Even with the challenging business outlook, a few key themes emerged among the leaders. Between the sessions, the coffee talk, the round tables, the speed networking, and the cocktail conversations, I met some remarkable people. Several new RPO & Off Shore startups had new owners, people like you who saw the future and went out and took some of it for themselves. Over and over again, the statistical data was clear – Temp Staffing/Contract is not predicted to grow, but Perm, RPO, and HR Consulting are growing. All of the major staffing players stock shrunk in the past year; yet the ones that continue to look strong are the ones offering Professional level Direct Hire (Perm) like Executive Search, Accounting and Finance, Health Care and the ones offering services like RPO, Off Shoring entire departments, and Out Sourcing entire departments. Some industries are not growing, and instead are clearly shrinking. If Thomas Friedman (author of the World is Flat) is right, they might eventually be shrinking to the point that companies actually completely outsource entire divisions or skillsets to other countries or local outsourcing companies. These companies would manage the whole thing from start to finish. In Office Support we see it with Xerox to name one; they used to sell copiers now they manage whole the copy, mail clerical, and reception areas within a company and they are considered part of facilities budget.

While there are certainly staffing doors shutting for some in our industry; there are certainly many more doors opening in several new and innovative capacities; if we open our eyes and accept that change is inevitable. It is very inspiring to see companies that are taking advantage of the worlds economic condition, stepping in and making things happen to serve their clients’ needs. These strategic thinkers are taking the future into their own hands and claiming their stake in the ground. While they are opening up new offerings, they are making a statement to the business world that they are strategic advocates and advisors in the human capital and workforce management field.

I have just sold my office support staffing and placement company to a Light industrial company who was seeking to raise their margins and service offerings; I saw, heard and felt first hand how one door closes for one person and opens for another. It was time for me to move on; for my buyer this was the answer to building his company’s economic profile as well as reputation. He is so energized by the changes in the industry that he is adding office support, direct hire, off shoring and eventually professional placement.

Everything I have learned and believe in from Organizational Development, Retention, Candidate Selection, Assessments, Behavioral Interviewing, RPO process to the War for Talent, Generational influence, Candidate & Client buying styles, Market dominance and selling systems are absolutely needed services as the business climate shifts and as the world continues to get flatter. Recruiting firms, Direct Hire, RPO, and Staffing Firms who look for market differentiation will seek for key products and services that aid to their unique selling position and position them as strategic market leaders in the human capital, talent acquisition, and workforce management field. The buzz around the changes, the needs and the staffing worlds future eased my fear of nothingness and catapulted my enthusiasm times ten.

So for you. What are your goals? What are your market shifting ideas? Where are you today? Where do you want to be in 5 -10 years? What is stopping you? What are your overt and or hidden fears that might be running your thoughts? If nothing was in the way, what difference would you be making with your clients? How big?

Take this month, and use it as a time to course correct. We are 3 months into 2008 and everything around us is swirling. It is up to you to stay on course, achieving what you set out to, regardless of what is happening outside your door. We have all seen times like this before and we all for the most part make it out better people. So, the question is what will you cause and implement in the year 2008?


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