Strategic Recruiting in a "Down Economy"...why recruit and hire NOW?
By R Gaines Baty

Why would an organization invest in new talent during these troubled times?  Can you really afford to recruit right now?

On one hand, we’re being overwhelmed by news of recession and difficult times ahead.  Businesses of all sizes and in most industries are reacting in a very logical and consistent fashion… “hunkering down” by slashing costs, laying off employees, and scrutinizing and deferring every investment decision possible.

In contrast, McKinsey’s “Quarterly Online Journal” recently referred to evidence that the quality of hired workers can actually rise during a recession.  Schlumberger, for example, “continues aggressive pursuit and development of top talent in both good times and bad.  This has resulted in deep bench strength, and a reputation for the most talented employees in the oilfield services business.” (October 10, 2005 BusinessWeek Online)

With this in mind, why not consider opportunistically strengthening your organization to complement the elimination of less-productive overhead?  Selectively build some muscle at the same time you trim excess fat!

Of course, many quality displaced people will be available over the next few months…and frequently for very reasonable compensation packages.  Not so obvious is the fact that many still-employed top performers can be enticed away with an aggressive, proactive approach and for “the right opportunity”.  Your ROI can be substantial in recruiting these ‘stars’!

Clearly, ‘counter-cycle’ recruiting in a ‘down economy’ represents the opportunity to…

  • harvest and upgrade talent, replacing weaker performers…yielding immediate performance boosts across the organization

  • proactively recruit from and weaken the competition

  • ensure accelerated top-line revenues, bottom-line improvements, and increased market share… now and during inevitable future ‘up’ cycles.

These benefits can be achieved by recruiting for impact-level roles with clear ROI justification, such as:

  • Sales management and team - while competitors are retrenching

  • Turnaround of important business units or departments

  • Leadership of major productivity initiatives

  • Selective management/leadership team upgrades

With this compelling logic, the question becomes…“can you afford not to recruit now?”  

Now is the time to invest in Strategic Recruiting, to acquire championship-level talent while the market is in your favor.  We’re happy to discuss how this might be accomplished within your current conservative investment guidelines.


R. Gaines Baty is President of R. Gaines Baty Associates, Inc. (est. 1977), a leading retained executive search firm.  Mr. Baty, who started his career with IBM, is an author and practitioner in executive team-building, executive evaluation, executive search and career management.  Go to for more information.

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