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The crisis and HR

The crisis and HR

Piyush B Ganatra, managing director, MBR Recruitment-Division of MBR Group llc, explains why the financial crisis has changed the HR industry, and the people it recruits.

March 5, 2009 7:32 by

Year after year visible changes in the HR quantum and its requirements indicate the pace and direction of various industries. Being a part of the region’s media and marketing industry for their recruitment needs for the past 14 years, we have seen that the pace in the Gulf has generally been fast and the direction up.

But since the fourth quarter of 2008, things have looked fairly different.

It is obvious that firms have become conservative on many if not all fronts in the face of the prevailing economic downturn, and the media and marketing industry felt the true pinch in the month of November 2008 which became fairly evident through the disparity between the demand and supply of openings vs. applicants for the industry. In order to measure market depth and get a closer understanding of current market trends, assessment of industry data becomes essential. The study – besides assisting us in trend forecasting – helps highlight key factors.

This year on comparing current data with last year’s records, I am sure everyone observed substantial differences within the various segments of recruitment, some that can actually work to the advantage of recruitment companies.

Since December is usually a slow month for all activities, the noticeable change in our industry came about in January 2009. The requirements from UAE agencies dropped, but were substantiated by Bahrain, Qatar and KSA. The drops have been sharp from advertising, media, events and branding agencies but at the same time the interactive and online business are scouting for talent.

On the other hand, new applicants (freshers) have dropped to 10 percent within the mix from last year’s 30 percent. And industry professionals have increased by 55 percent from last year. The experience and seniority levels are on the same plain as previous years with a heavier influx on personnel who have between three to seven years of experience.

Furthermore, the overall recruitments per month have significantly dropped since last year, but it is too premature to dictate an obvious trend. The uncertainty of times is reflecting on all businesses and hence their recruitment practices and policies.

During economic slowdowns, one looks towards optimizing their resources, and by default the function of recruitment begins to receive some serious consideration. A recruitment agency’s responsibility is to ensure appropriate candidate selection through intricate profile filtration processes, but one is often faced with urgent requirements from clients that often result in quick, and sometimes not so correct hiring decisions.

That all is changing now as agencies have become more diligent about their processes and have started to allow their HR consultants the timeframes needed to deliver quality results, and to ensure that HR consultants are acting accordingly. We for one have made some value additions to our services, to the point where we are sharing video introductions of short-listed candidates even before the first interview.

In spite of the financial crisis, however, it is important for candidates to remain focused on their requirements and expectations. They must not lose their nerve, and should avoid mass circulation of their credentials, which always results in lowering the chances of selection.

At the same time it is imperative for all players to understand that an agency is only as good as the people who are a part of it. And in times like these, harnessing quality human resources is more important than ever. Companies that are in the market with a long-term vision realize that their performance during the global economic crisis will indeed be a factor that determines their market position when the tables turn for the better, and hence clearing out your HR cache is not a wise option.

The events of the past few months have instigated a drive for correction in all processes, including HR. This makes it the most optimum time for companies to fine-tune their productivity and enhance the quality and level of their manpower.

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