Recruitment storm clouds: A time for chaos or opportunity?

I read a Telegraph article by chairman of Reed, James Reed, warning that their biggest fall in vacancies since 2010 could be a sign that we’re heading for recession.

I’ve seen a downturn in the market as senior people seem to be staying in their current roles. Add to this a reluctance to hire and the storm clouds quickly gather pace.

In a time of Brexit scaremongering, a level of uncertainty has permeated the marketplace. Advertising is reactive and reflective and in one sense mirrors the bear and bull of the financial marketplace. 

Opportunities or chaos? Depends how you look at it

Mental preparation could help determine whether recruitment is headed towards chaos, or whether now is the time to create opportunity. 

The advice I give to people looking and hiring is don’t try to predict the unpredictable and it’s business as usual. But do we adopt the Blitz mentality? Well no not really, that borders on naive or plain daft. One should always have the ace up the sleeve or alternate plans. 

And yes you can plan even when I say you cannot predict. There are always generalities even where we don’t know the specifics.

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”  – Sherlock Holmes 

Let us look to the impossible whilst paying homage to the Sleuth. 

Is the UK and all those who sail in her going to be cast adrift? No, that won’t happen. So from a macro point of view UK Limited won’t be going down the toilet, nor will you lose your job. 

Will the advertising world sail off the edge of a flat world? NO. Advertising is more than linear and straddles borders with messaging that is human orientated not State led. 

Do I need to look for a alternate job or colleague? Well, my answer to that is the same as usual for senior people. You should move when you have the right reasons, and the same applies for hiring someone. 

And being British is like the weather, there is never a good or bad time. I sometimes say to people that they use a SWOT analysis blended with a bit of common sense. And I don’t want to resort to management speak or acronyms. You can pay people for that. It comes down to common sense as mentioned.

My advice if you’re looking for roles:

1. Have your LinkedIn up to date, as well as your CV. The beauty of LinkedIn is you can cross refer to speeches you may have given as well as your interests. It makes you think about you, and that’s important. You’ll gain a realisation of who you are, where you have been, are, and are going. You may want to alter what is to come, or change some of your thinking and behaviour. Don’t change who you are. LinkedIn and a CV won’t get you a job, please be aware of that, just use them as a “me” exercise as well as an “introduction” for people. Don’t get hung up on them, too many people do.

2. Experiment  with a SWOT analysis of yourself and be holistic – don’t just look at it from a work perspective, ask some other questions, for example: What do I like? What do I not like? What am I good at? What am I bad at? And so forth. Try and also put some timelines in there, e.g. short term one year, medium two to three years, and five years plus for longer term. Be selfish and think about what you want even if that excludes family. 

3. Give back and don’t be a taker, and you’ll grow as a person, be happy, and rewards naturally follow. I know this sounds like it’s from a management book, but I strongly feel that in doing what actually makes you happy you’ll achieve what you want. That happiness rubs off and can also be offered to people, is a thing, a rare thing. Sadly only a few get this.

My advice if you run a business:

You run a business and you need to replace someone, or plain hire someone. So you write a job description, advertise, find the person. Blah, blah, blah. But did YOU feel fulfilled, not just the candidate? We all look to the specifics of a role, but do we honestly look to the person, the person who we should really empathise with? 

Maybe try and write down or picture before anything happens what it would be like if you applied for the job. This helps form an idea of what you would be as a person in that role, or for that matter ought to be. What should be their moral compass? Can you have a drink with them when it’s all going wrong? If you’ve done your research correctly they can do a job, question is who are they? We are all individuals – corporeal; companies are incorporeal.


What is frustrating isthe contraction of people moving and people hiring based on fear. We all make decisions based on risk and maybes. So why change that now? My advice ultimately is to keep growing your business and your career.

In times of uncertainty there is one certainty, the opportunity to fill gaps, niches and exploit the marketplace. I refer directly to BREXIT, but also expand this to encompass living life per se. There is never a bad time to do something, only ever good times as you have the ability to exercise volition.

A good example was a recent 32 mile ultra fell race with 6,000 feet of climb across the moors. We all started the race in blistering horizontal rain and gusting wind. Horrible. At this point I considered giving up, but stuck at it. I was panicking, worried, thinking the worse. And here is the rub. We all do this and it’s normal and correct. Point is you don’t give up. You plod on like a fell race, as your thinking improves, as does the weather, and you get into a pace. You get used to it. And that can be your career, life, whatever. Just keep at it. Being miserable at times is normal and builds character.

Why not say f**k it and do something different?

Has your business thought about attracting that much needed staff member, or of creating a business division? As a person, have you thought of offering your services to fill that gap, create something as against slavishly apply for the identikit job description?

* This article first appeared in my Easter newsletter and I thought the time was right to share it again.