Reinventing Recruiting … After The Recession

By Kristan Kennedy

 The Year We Wish … Didn’t Happen

 I don’t know about the rest of you hiring gurus out there, but 2009 is a year I’m glad is gone.

Think back to the end of 2008 as a recruiter. I was confident!  I walked into the office one September morning expecting to schedule ten interviews for solid startups in California. Focused on the details of scheduling a dozen strong candidates, I was ill-prepared for the day’s headlines. The Dow plunged 650 points. Lehman collapsed. Market confidence plunged in tandem with the Venture money that backed my companies and my world – It happened quickly, shockingly.

Seven of my companies froze hiring in the next 24 hours. Silicon Valley Venture Capital money flow dried up like a Sahara drought. Candidates calling “looking” for jobs increased tenfold in the ensuing weeks, scared of impending layoffs.  Even my hiring managers were sending me resumes!  For staffing specialists like myself, it was the “great depression” of technology recruiting – and my business disappeared in a week.  

But that’s yesterday’s news. Fortunately, today’s tech market is not only better and different but stronger.  Tech jobs are back. The big hiring picture is different than a year or eighteen months ago. My observation is this: Strong companies, solid talent and good recruiters have survived.  We’ve dusted ourselves off and are jump-starting talent acquisition. It’s all coming back, but it looks different than 2008/2009, which could have been, the perfect storm.  


Cold Calling without a purpose- doesn’t work today. Value and credibility will open doors.

Rookie recruiters will burn out in today’s market. Cold Calls should be streamlined and purpose-oriented: pitching talent focused on the needs of the company. Exceptional recruiters have exclusive candidates to sell to potential customers. The best talents are still working – at strong companies. They are not found on job boards. They are on confidential searches. Use your networking and connections in this market to introduce your connections to targeted strong companies.  


We’ve heard it a million times or said it: “Relationships matter.”

Still true, but technology matters too. Relationships today are built via social networking, viral marketing, email marketing and websites designed to “link us all in” according to Bob Karr, CEO/Founder of LINKSV. Karr’s sight is aimed at benevolent networking, via word of mouth. He says cold calling without a purpose is a futile exercise. If you don’t look at company leadership, their career paths and players, you are doomed. Use LinkedIn, LinkSV, Facebook, local/regional job boards. Leads generated from our technology turn into job recs. Job recs turn into relationships with managers. Think backwards. To suffice: Monster is the new when it comes to hiring. Get used to online dating in this market. LinkedIn is the new Facebook. LinkSV is the new “Meetup.” Get over yourself. Use it all.


The basic mantra stays true.

  1. Find quality companies. (They’ll be easier to spot if they’ve survived the last year and maintained headcount, or grown.)
  2. Don’t be overanxious. THIS IS THE TIME to get expert talent by direct recruiting. The recession was a gift. It shook down the weak startups and weak talent too. Good candidates are still working. Not to say they aren’t ‘looking’ but they aren’t desperate.

Take that (and the recovery) as the lesson in recruiting in today’s economy. Be selective. Have high standards. Seek exceptional talent for exceptional companies. If that’s in place, talented clients will find happy homes with your high-end companies. Be smart and open to change. If you’ve attached yourself to old style recruiting, look outside of yourself and use the technology you sell and search for daily.

For more information on working with a recruiter in today’s recovering market, call Kristan Kennedy at Redfish Technology.

Kristan Kennedy is an Executive Recruiter in Technology (Silicon Valley and SO-CAL) for Redfish Technology. Kennedy is a veteran high tech recruiter and former Managing Editor for an award-winning weekly newspaper before entering the field of recruiting.

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