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Hire ground

When I last wrote this column in January, things were starting to look a bit bleak. While the recession had not yet been confirmed, we all knew that the economy was slowing and we were seeing the effects this was having on the financial services market. Redundancies had started to happen as well as recruitment freezes and aborted job hirings.

You could only speculate as to how long it would last or how severe it would be.

On balance, it has not been as bad in the last few months as it could have been and we have been able to fill a respec-table level of vacancies, given the current economic climate.

The majority of our clients have always been the smaller to medium-sized operations and it could have been our saving grace. These smaller firms have generally been very well run and are well poised to capitalise on the mistakes that the big corporations make.

What the last six months have confirmed to me is that the financial services market is resilient and fortunes can change quickly – I know several examples of companies that have made staff redun-dant in the last six months and are now hiring again.

I am also pleased to confirm the viability and value of the recruitment industry as all those companies that have rehired have used recruitment consultants to do it. OK, they may be paying lower fees and they can take their time and be selective but they also would not be short of candidates if they put an ad in the paper.

The recession has forced businesses to take a hard look at their operations and, where they have needed to cut costs, staff have been a casualty.

Unless there is a near or complete business failure, most companies that we deal with that have made redund-ancies have a very strong underlying business. It is just that some changes have needed to be made.

It really was no surprise that a fall in business revenues was going to leave firms with too many expensive staff and not enough work to go round. Falling business revenues have led employers to re-evaluate and seek value for money.

As I have said before, job hunters with good experience and qualifications will find work, even though it may take longer that before.

And for businesses with sound models that continue to do well in this market, life goes on. They still need to replace staff that leave and those that are still growing still need to hire.

One potential area of concern that I can see is companies now not recruiting through fear of having to make redundancies again.

A good flexible solution is to hire on a temporary basis to undertake a specific project or assist with increased workload. Fixed term employ-ment costs are avoided and it is a good way to test the water in uncertain times.

Simon Benstead is a director of James Associates

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