Advice to job seekers and hiring companies in an uncertain economy

By The Intersect Group

Currency concerns, unemployment, earthquakes?!

A combination of factors have come together in the past several months to create an economy that is….well, a little unstable to say the least.  This instability can make it difficult for both job seekers and employers alike to know what’s next, what’s around the bend and how to manage.

Based on our unique perspective of sourcing candidates for many of the most successful companies in the world, we have observed a few characteristics that companies are seeking and the most qualified candidates seem to follow. Here are a few tips that can make the job search and the hiring process a little less unnerving.

Job seekers: It’s a scary world out there and you don’t want to take a wrong step. So what to do? The following four bits of advice will provide a little direction for your job search:

1.   Build a relationship with a respected staffing and executive recruiting firm to tap into the hidden job market.  Many jobs aren’t advertised but are exclusively sourced through a recruiting agency or referral.

2.  Research all companies thoroughly prior to accepting an offer.  What is their financial position and stability?  Historically, how have they responded during poor economic times and periods of economic growth?  Do they layoff employees?  Downsize?  Or sell business units?  Is their product or service revolutionary or recession resistant?  It is important not to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

3.  Take all interviews.  An interview is never a waste of time and is always an opportunity to showcase your talent and expand your professional network.  Seize the opportunity and sell yourself.  Perhaps the specific role is not ideal, but you could create your own opportunity through the process.

4.  Make yourself indispensable.  Build your technical skills to differentiate yourself from the rest of the market.  Learn hard to find skills to make yourself more desirable.

Employers: In an uncertain economy it’s difficult to take next steps with confidence, there are a million questions surrounding every decision.  “What if we have to downsize?” “What if the economy doesn’t turn around?” “Our staff is overloaded now, but should we hire?”  Below is some advice on how to get ahead in your industry:

1.   Always hire the very best talent available in the market.  The hiring focus should be on maximizing the productivity of every position available in the company.  Too often companies are very cost conscious in the hiring process and they lose the best possible candidates.  Gains in productivity almost always outweigh cost savings in compensation.  Hire the best, you will get what you pay for and ultimately you will do more work, produce more product, and increase quality with fewer full-time headcount, thereby saving the company money in total.

2.  Build a relationship with a well-respected staffing and executive search firm and consider hiring contract employees to provide greater flexibility in your workforce.  Contract staff can provide the necessary manpower to meet the immediate needs of a company while avoiding the costs of downsizing if business declines.

3.  Consider incentive-based compensation plans that reward employees if revenues and profitability rises, but also control compensation costs as revenues decline.

Nobody can know for sure what our economy’s future holds, but this advice can provide some direction for both job seekers and hiring companies as we wade through the waters of uncertainty together.