Recruiting in a recession. How can help? - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Recruiting in a recession. How can help?

The economic downturn has changed the face of the workforce. Not only are there more candidates seeking work, but the recession has changed who’s looking for jobs. Whether you’ve been forced to cut staff or are in the position to hire new employees, knowing what the current job market looks like will help prepare you for the road ahead. Many tools exist to help recruit new talent. PLANET has it’s very own job board,, that helps connect green industry employers and candidates.  Despite the changing economy, knowing what you’re faced with will help you make the best decisions.

Below is an article written by Peter Weddle, author of Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System.

The Entrepreneurism of Recruiting

Today’s job market is driven by “irrational expectations.” If the 2001 recession produced a job less recovery, this so-called Great Recession will leave behind a “less jobs” recovery. In other words, the contraction caused by this economic downturn is both profound and permanent. It isn’t a reduction in force; it is a reduction in structure. And looking for a job the old fashioned is, as a consequence, neither rational nor useful.

It’s also clear that such a turn of events will make it especially difficult for mediocre performers. Historically, the relatively rapid and continuous growth of the U.S. economy created a revolution of rising expectations for people who were satisfied to be average workers. Those salad days are, alas, gone forever. Today and for at least the remaining 91 years of this century, U.S. employers will no longer tolerate a workforce that is predominantly populated by the “C” crowd.

Now, before you rise up in righteous indignation, that statement does not represent an elitist view of the workplace. Quite the contrary. You see, I believe every human being has an “A” level performer within him or herself. Tragically, however, most never invest the time and effort to determine what kind of work would enable them to express and experience their inner champion and/or to acquire the level of knowledge and experience necessary to reach that level of performance. Said another way, the emerging strategy of trading out “C” performers for “A” performers—what I call the “upside of down” in this economy—isn’t elitist at all. It is the most democratic approach to talent acquisition we’ve ever seen.

How will it affect those of us in the field of recruiting?

First, it will place a premium on high performance within our own ranks. In other words, employers won’t look for “A” level performers among all of the other career fields in which they employ talent and accept “C” level work from their recruiters. To think otherwise would be yet another example of “irrational expectations.” From now on, organizations will accept only one kind of recruiter—one who is sufficiently passionate and skilled to perform consistently at an elite level.

As dramatic as that dynamic is, however, it pales in consequence to yet another change driven by the restructuring of the U.S. economy. The definition of how you achieve elite status in the recruiting field has undergone an even more extraordinary shift. We can no longer achieve “A” level performance simply by executing best practices. Today, we have to use such practices and be an entrepreneur. To put it another way, best practices without entrepreneurship is the new “C” level of performance.

Howard Stevenson, the father of entrepreneurship studies at Harvard Business School defined an entrepreneur as someone who pursues “opportunity beyond the resources you currently control.” That’s the perfect definition of the new landscape we recruiters face in corporate America.

The opportunity (and the challenge) we have today is to transform our profession from one in which we simply fill requisitions for hiring managers to one in which we acquire the top talent an enterprise needs to accomplish its mission. That’s not semantics. Those two activities represent very different occupations requiring very different kinds of talent.

No less important, this new definition of our work also demands a very different set of resources from those we currently control as recruiters. You cannot execute the strategic role of top talent acquisition on the kind of shoe-string budgets and slim-to-none priority of most current staffing functions. The fact that we do as well as we do with the vapor capital investments we’ve historically endured is not testimony to smart strategy, but rather to the determined professionalism we have always brought to our work. It takes “A” level recruiting and a sustained financial commitment, however, to acquire “A” level talent on a consistent basis, and scrimping—whether you call it “doing more with less” or some other vapid term for cheap—is a sure-fire strategy for failure.

And that’s why we need to transform ourselves from practitioners of recruiting activities into entrepreneurial recruiters. We must use all of our innovative capacity, persuasive capability, dedicated energy and skill to re-imagine recruiting as a business within a business. Not in the old fashioned accounting sense, but in a new way that is aligned with the much more intense “quality imperative” of today’s and tomorrow’s business environment.

Indeed, another expert in entrepreneurism, William Baumol, has defined an entrepreneur as the “bold and imaginative deviator from established business patterns and practices.” That’s the perfect description of the new recruiting profession—bold and imaginative deviators from a recruiting paradigm that is simply no longer relevant to the world of work.

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