From a Recruiter’s Viewpoint Vol. 15

In this Issue:
Challenges in the New Millennium

Did you realize that the 77 million baby boomers that have been driving the U.S. economy for so long, have now reached the age of 55 and older? The next generation has only 40 million people to fill in the gap. This will be affecting hiring practices in some interesting ways.

We are already seeing signs of a shift from a client driven market to a candidate driven market. A glut of qualified candidates is no longer the norm. Many times last year, we saw jobs offered, but declined because the offer or the opportunity wasn’t very compelling and candidates have become more risk averse due to the volatility in the market. With fewer candidates to choose from, companies will have to rethink their historical strategies and 1) focus on retention and training of current employees and 2) consider hiring more senior “baby boomers” for 2 to 3 years in positions where no additional training is required, e.g., account managers, sales managers, controllers, customer service managers, logistics managers, plant managers, etc. Baby boomers want to work, have lots of experience and won’t need to be trained to be effective.

With so much manufacturing going to Asia, the demand for executives in the U.S. will continue to decline. Ex-pat opportunities, however, have increased. Mid-size corporations will have to get bigger either through merger or acquisition in order to compete globally and shift their capacity. Your global customers will ultimately prefer a global supplier. The U.S. market will have more front end marketing, sales, customer service and technical support with sourcing throughout the world. We see this clearly in the textile, apparel and furniture industries. But now, book printing, packaging machinery, small appliances, etc. are all being outsourced, driven by lower labor costs and lower total landed cost to the U.S.

This is not unlike the migration of jobs from the northeast to the southeast 30 years ago, and to Mexico 15 years ago. With improved communications and logistics, unless you have a proprietary product, or speed to market is important, it is nigh impossible to be a low cost producer and manufacture here in the U.S.

So, where do executives go when the industry that trained them is no longer hiring? We have observed some interesting migration of jobs.

Franchising is a very attractive alternative which includes executive recruiters, insurance agents, financial services, real estate, business consulting and all sorts of retail including packaging, car rental agencies, restaurants, etc. We have seen many of you either acquire or obtain equity in a small converter. However, startups are uncommon these days. If you can tap into the venture capital network, it can be very attractive, but it is difficult to penetrate. We have seen many of you become university professors, school headmasters and even a church GM. Sales reps have been able to move into medical devices/supplies, as well as, pharmaceutical sales where strong selling skills and experience have become more important in recent years. Independent consulting is always popular but difficult to sustain due to the need for continued marketing. Becoming an independent sales rep is not uncommon.

Many of these alternatives tend to be in the services sector. Switching manufacturing industries is possible as hiring managers broaden their spec and stop requiring industry specific experience. It is more important than ever to build a network of contacts that includes business associates, suppliers, customers, friends and neighbors. The truth is that there are many, many different ways to earn a living and take care of your family. If you are faced with this challenge, you will have many choices available to you.


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