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In a Jobless Recovery, Where Do Recruiters Find Work?


In a twist of ironic fate, they have to match themselves with employers.

When the company that's always hiring begins firing, it's time to worry. When you're the one in charge of hiring and find you're also the one being fired, it's time to panic.

That's how it went down for many recruiters at the start of 2009, when Google (GOOG) announced plans to reduce the overall size of its recruiting organization by approximately 100 positions.

And the Internet behemoth wasn't the only one: Microsoft (MSFT) laid off an estimated 250 internal recruiters last winter -- a move that came after the previous fall season in which the company began trimming its contract workforce, including all contract recruiters. (Sadly, for recruiters that work as contractors, there's rarely any layoff announcement -- just a contract that ends and won't be renewed. This also means that those who find themselves out of work can't collect unemployment.)

It's not just the internal recruiters of a company or contract workers that can end up struggling to hold on to their careers. Hundreds of recruiting and staffing agencies -- those businesses that aim to match hiring employers with willing and able employees -- have had to let people go or close their doors in 2009. Two of the largest executive search firms, Korn/Ferry (KFY) and Heidrick & Struggles (HSII), were among those that downsized significantly this year.

In an ironic twist of fate, all of this has left droves of qualified recruiters to match only themselves with new employers.

So who's looking at the resumes of recruiters?

As the New York Times reported earlier in 2009, for the last 11 years, one group of recruiters in Silicon Valley, California, has held a luncheon on the first Friday of all but two months of the year -- their most recent meeting is scheduled for today, December 4. Unemployed recruiters go in the hopes of hearing about job openings for themselves, but often find nothing more than out-of-work colleagues or "helpful" hints on how to adapt their skills to other industries.

In fact, a search of the term "recruiters" in Job Trends on produces a graph showing the percentage of industry jobs the site finds after searching thousands of job sites. It may not be a chart with precision accuracy, but it's evident that recruiter offerings are meager.

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