As 2009 draws to a close, many of us are keeping our eyes on the road and hoping to find a stronger and more productive 2010, yet we can't seem to help looking in the rear view mirror. As sales professionals, we want to be able to fully understand any downfall we had this past year and learn from our mistakes. Some of the loses we endured are unpreventable where others can teach us how to be leaner and meaner in the future. We also look back and analyze the past in order to better understand the future and any possible indicating trends we need to keep an eye on. That being said, we at Treeline have taken a look back and analyzed the hiring trends of 2009 and have identified one overwhelming behavior of all companies: risk aversion in hiring decisions.
In December of 2008, dozens of economists and employment organizations started making predictions on hiring trends in 2009. At that point we had already experienced a taste of what was to come with the economic recession, however, reports indicated that we would see bigger paychecks, flexible work arrangements and bigger budgets for employee branding. All sound promising and exciting, however none of them true. Instead, we have seen companies tighten the belt on budgetary expenditures and avoid unnecessary loses. That being said, companies who were able to hire did so gingerly and continue the same behavior.
Throughout 2009, we have seen many companies sit on open roles for weeks and months waiting to find the right candidate. They do not wait due to lack of candidates on the marketplace, they wait because they cannot afford to take the risk of hiring an "outside of the box" professional. It seems that companies have experience a fundamental shift in their hiring practices and have taken to the employment market with more of a consumer minded approach. Openings are analyzed, assessed and outlined before going to market and the requirements are iron clad and often times extremely narrow. Employers tend to look to fill their open roles with candidates who have identical skills sets and who have been successful in the same role at another company. They look for candidates who have proven track records of success within the same industry and, in some instances, can bring over a book of business. Let's face it, nowadays the majority of products and services are commoditized and purchasers are looking for the best buys. What makes the employment market any different? Companies are investing in human capital, therefore they are going to go to the market with a "buyer beware" attitude. Thus, in order to mitigate the risk of a bad hire, they are looking for candidates who have proven success and great reviews. Many companies that traditionally have been "quick to pull the trigger" are also starting to implement background checks and other investigative reports in order to ensure a successful hire.
In conclusion, few companies in 2009 have settled for the "bodies in chairs" approach. They are selectively building up their dream teams and will allow that seat to sit empty for an indefinite amount of time. In 2010, we will see companies with more sales openings and a greater urgency to hire, but their selective search tactics will be a continuing trend. Therefore, in order to be a competitive player in this job market you need to be able to demonstrate your successes and the value that you would bring to your potential employer. It's no longer about asking the company what they can do for you, it's about showing the company what you can do for them.