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Who would have thought it. It seems like just the other day the Dow was at 14,000, housing was booming with no end in sight and, while the war in Iraq dragged on, Americans were largely optimistic about the future and spending like there was no tomorrow. But tomorrow came. Financial markets fell off a cliff, housing hit a wall- and promptly slid down it, millions of retirees, and those about to retire, saw their pension and savings plans decimated and millions have lost their jobs at a point in their lives when they could least afford it. Economists, politicians and media prognosticators will debate ad nauseam the reasons and blame for Americaʼs deepest economic downturn since 1929, but there is good news. Smart employers are experiencing the greatest job market, with the most able talent, at ridiculously low costs than has been seen since the early 1980ʼs.
Employment statics suggest that American business remains wary of ramping up the jobs picture as productivity measures go through the roof. Why add people when income is just holding its own and profits are returning in the wake of falling overhead? Anyone following the economic news understands that the US economy has become deeply dependent upon consumer spending, and consumers may have undergone a true epiphany over their spending habits and lifestyle that will temper future growth (but the upside is that this may have ushered in a new era of personal responsibility). However, for the smart business, this could be the opportune time to build for the future and thereʼs always a future.
For more than a year, any job opening has attracted overwhelming response. One manager bemoaned the fact that he was certain that among the more than 500 resumes he received for one position there were likely numerous superstars; he just didnʼt have the time to wade through that ocean. However, there are good reasons to take that plunge. Many of the 50 - 70 year olds who have lost positions or decided to re-enter the workforce bring six-figure talent that can be bought at a fraction of the cost. One CEO Iʼm aware of is ready to turn her back on the $150K package from her last position to a job paying $35K, and be happy for the change. While some potential employers might be concerned that someone of that caliber would not stay, heading out the door for the next senior job that comes along, circumstance is on the employerʼs side. Many of these strong, tenured candidates no longer require benefits (product of the two career marriage) so an initial offer of consulting with no long term commitment is an ideal way to “test drive” a relationship for both parties. The projected length and weak strength of the recovery benefits employers as well. It appears that job growth will be slow, permitting the hiring manager to rest easier that he or she wonʼt have any intense competition for their resources for some time.
Itʼs true that consumers are enjoying some of the best bargains in memory through this ugliness- bought a car, television or a home lately? Employers have the same advantage- great talent is on sale- Buy Now!