Not Hiring? That's Okay, I'm Not Looking

Les Gore
October 20, 2008 — 2,411 views  
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Dude, where's my bailout?

A few weeks ago, Harvard Business School mounted its own emergency rescue mission on Wall Street.

In the school's first intervention on behalf of newly minted graduates, 7 Harvard career coaches flew to New York to huddle with 18 members of the Class of 2008 who had taken jobs at troubled firms like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

At last word, most were still working, but didn't know what the next days or weeks would bring.

The ranks of passive job seekers are growing as workers decide now is not the time to look for a new job.

There are 9.5 million people out of work and prospects for rising unemployment are expected to continue into 2009. So what's up with the growing number of job seekers who have decided now is not the time to look for a new job?

If you believe the findings reported in and USA TODAY's "Q4 2008 Job Forecast" , many jobseekers are considering taking classes to improve their job prospects, while 41 percent told pollsters they intend to stay in their present job until they retire. Another 38 percent said they expected to hold onto their current job for at least another year.

Wise decisions? Maybe--considering that only 23 percent of the companies surveyed intend to add full-time workers in the next three months. The report was based on a survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals and over 6,100 workers in private sector companies nationwide.

The number of companies saying they would be hiring in the last quarter of this year is 8 percent lower than the 25 percent who reported adding staff between July 1 and September 30. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive between August 21 and September 9, also found that 14 percent of companies had layoffs during the third quarter. That was 40 percent more than the number predicted in the "Q3 2008 Job Forecast," a sign, perhaps of the worsening economy.

In fact, in a footnote to the forecast CareerBuilder warns: "The 'Q4 2008 Job Forecast' survey was conducted before the full financial crisis became known and so may not fully reflect the effects of that crisis." A crisis that has now gone global.

"Employers are maintaining a conservative approach to recruitment as they maneuver through a weaker economy that has produced its share of casualties," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of "Certain sectors such as IT and Healthcare are still showing solid job growth while others struggle with reorganization, cost containment and other measures to stay afloat."

The widespread corporate caution toward hiring presents opportunities for recruiters who, in most industries, will have less competition. The 3rd quarter forecast found that while most companies were not taking advantage of the talent inventory to make changes in their workforce, 26.4 percent were using the opportunity to replace low performers with new talent.

Of course, sourcing candidates will be more challenging given that almost 80 percent of workers do not expect to make a job change in the next year. That may be why 24 percent of the HR professionals and hiring managers reported open positions they have been unable to fill.

About the Author

Les Gore is founder and managing partner of Executive Search International, a Boston-based, nationally recognized search firm and a 25-year veteran of the "recruiting wars."

Les Gore