How to Become a Recession Proof Recruiter

If, like me, you’ve been keeping an eye on sales in the American RV market recently, you’ll have reservations about the world’s economy.

Doing this job produces some strange sentences…

Nonetheless, the success of big ticket items is normally a good regulator of optimism in the state of the world’s macro financial status.

Simply put… people stop buying expensive sh*t when there’s less money goin’ round.

And RVs or… motorhomes as we call them in the UK are a great example. So you’ll find economists paying close attention to the success of their sales.

What’s the market like at the moment Wish?

Glad you asked, it’s patchy at best.

In fact wholesale shipments of RVs were down by 20.3% as of August. And the total number of U.S. auto sales fell 1.8% from the previous year’s numbers in July.

Time to head for the hills then?

Not yet.

There’s been five periods of downturn in the RV market since 1981, “but only three of those periods were followed by recessions” says Kevin Broom, spokesman for the RV Industry Association.

But there are other signs a downturn’s potentially on the way.

Brexit may well be the most obvious. But I’ve been trying not to write about that subject, lest my articles become a battlefield for dyed in the wool doom-mongers of the UK LinkedIn politics scene.

There’s signs in US politics too of course… potential trade tariffs with countries like China, Mexico and Canada may all impact the economy’s buoyancy.

The thing is, there’s always a downturn on the way.

They happen very commonly as economic markets jostle and jockey for position. And one person’s downturn is another’s opportunity.

So rather than mass produce tin foil hats, waving a white flag from the top of Hunted HQ, I thought it might be worthwhile looking at how you can make a recession work for you.

Firstly, you want to be in the right industry

This is quite a fortunate first point for recruiters. Because you can almost hand pick your chosen industry without leaving your current job. In fact, you might not even have to leave your current specialism.

Let’s say you’re an IT recruiter, who by the way service a pretty stable niche… if you’re putting IT specialists into Retail companies, you might be at risk.

If you’re putting them into medical systems you might not be affected. In fact the Research side of the Medical Industry’s been considered a safe bet in the past, and even ‘recession proof’.

I started my recruitment career in a recession. I also worked in an industry where the most common response to cold calls was laughter. The second most common was anger, due to the redundancies they’d just made.

Here’s some analysis from the Huffington Post of the most at risk sectors in time of recession…

Huffington Post Labour Market Change

As you can see, almost no one’s safe. 

But some industries are at significantly lower risk than others. And it should be mentioned the downturn of 2007 was quite a doozy.

If you really want to safeguard your billings and pivot into a market with positivity, you could look at industries which typically flourish in times of recession.

Those are…

– IT and Tech

– Food and Beverage

– Accounting and Finance

– Healthcare providers and Senior Service Industries

– Auto Repair and Maintenance

– Rental and Property Management

Fast growth, high end, niche businesses where talent shortage exist across sector, should be high on your target.

Now, fairly obviously you’re not going to want to change jobs completely. Because doing something you’re not experienced in, is a risk. And taking risks in a recession just doesn’t make sense.

But I’d argue there’s enough room in each of the markets above for you to transition quite neatly from your current niche.

How to be A Recession Proof Recruiter

Go global

There’s a localisation to economic downturns. And whilst the phrase ‘global recession’ oft tends to run the headlines, as it did in 2007, you’ll find pockets of countries all over the world which remain unhurt.

Many argue Australia’s yet to face a recession at the scale more mature global markets have seen. Or have at least got off lightly in comparison.

But as the Post-Mining investment boom hangover hits with a harsh, cloudy headache, that competitive advantage may be over.

Australia’s economy’s now more heavily linked to Infrastructure and Property in place of Mining. And some warn a recession could be around the corner.

If you’re a recruiter in Australia, you could ride this out.

But something we bang on about constantly is the ability of recruiters to take their show on the road.

I mean, doesn’t hauling it to the Cayman Islands to live a few years in a tax haven whilst it all blows over, sound exciting?

And even if you don’t want to move, or can’t, you can choose to work with clients in other markets. Plenty of recruitment agencies boast global commerce.

The basic truth is, you don’t have to be global.

You just have to hedge your bets on more robust economies, in your client base.

Look at your finances

I’ve talked previously about how a change in financial situation can affect your day to day mentality.

For me, it was taking stock of the small things I spent money on, which could be negated entirely with a bit of thought. Like your morning coffee for example.

If you’ve taken the advice above, there’s every chance your income won’t be directly affected too strongly by a period of economic narrowing. But having a plan up your sleeve should the commission dry up is never a bad idea.

Try saving enough so you have a few months salary in your bank account, just in case it all goes Pete Tong.

Then reconfigure the number you can live off, should the DJ come to dinner. Figuratively speaking obviously.

It’ll be the best insurance policy you take out. And hopefully, like most policies, you’ll never need it.

How to be A Recession Proof Recruiter

Amplify your personal brand

Look, I’m sorry for bleating on about this. I know ‘personal brand’ is fast becoming the new ‘fantastic opportunity’. It’s rattled off by every ad aficionado as the new meaning to life online.

But recruiters whose personal brand is amplified towards the top of their sector, regardless of who they work for, will outlive periods of recession.

They may even thrive.

Because competition in your career isn’t against those you work with. Or even those on LinkedIn. It’s against the entire field of competitors and people you’ve never heard of. There are no leagues. It’s everyone for themselves.

Some will get lucky. Some will work hard. Some will be slick online. Some will be useful to their network. Some will be associated with a great company brand. Some will be educated. Some will vlog. Some will write great ads. Some will go above and beyond. Some will be mega productive.

Pick which one of those you want to be and make it happen.

The best option for your clients is all of them. So that’s the best option for you.

A huge amount of the recruiters I know don’t have a presence on LinkedIn. It’s not worth their time and they’re making enough money without posting or commenting.

But all that’d happen if they did is a further amplification of the ‘brand’ which is already working wonders for them on the phone and in person.

And look, bad things happen.

If the company you work for now runs aground… if they turn out to be the weak link in your partnership, are you going to let that kill your career?

Or is it worth amplifying your personal brand so you’re a safe bet for your next employer? Or such a safe bet, you see self-employment as the sensible move?

How to be A Recession Proof Recruiter

Get productive

It’s pretty difficult to be more productive in your career, when your mindset’s completely fixed on end results. But there’s often a paradox in recruitment that if you look busy, you’re probably working hard.

A lot of recruiters might have a ‘friendly’ tap on the shoulder should they get caught reading an article.

Even if that article’s spoon-feeding ideas for better and faster performance. If you haven’t got 3 minutes to read an article, which is going to save you hours/days/weeks over the course of the year, you’re not working smart.

You’re working blind.

Doing the same things and hoping it continues to work.

In the meantime, your competitors are getting better. Automating everything they possibly can. So their delivery improves, in quicker time, and their clients get happier.

And on clients, I should just add a slight bit of common sense, should you need to hear it. If you have a handful of highly engaged clients who provide 70% of your revenue. You’re at risk if they are. The aim should always be to have as many fruitful relationships as you can.

In a good market, old school recruitment works. 

In a bad market, you need to be at the top of every potential client’s mind, should they decide to hire. There’s no shortcut for that either. But being productive and having a cultivated and amplified personal brand will be a damn good start.

If you’re not getting more productive at your job over time, you’re standing still.

And guess what happens in a recession?

The productive win. The unproductive struggle.