Once again, it's the voice of HR consultants rising to the fore during these turbulent times. Watson Wyatt got a nice little shout out in this week's Economist, in a column referencing the firm's finding that three-quarters of American companies have instituted hiring freezes in the current economic slump. And the firms that are still hiring are doing so in different ways—reflecting reduced recruitment budgets and the fact that they don't need to rush to give out offers.
Diminished recruiting resources means several things: 1) companies don't have the flashy perks to offer new recruits (but isn’t the promise of a new job flashy enough these days?); 2) companies are offering new hires the option to postpone their start date, sometimes in exchange for money. This allows firms to guarantee that they have talent waiting for them at the other end of the tunnel, while cutting back on their costs now; 3) don't count on a flood of recruiting events on campus. Instead, to give their students a leg up, universities are hooking students up with alumni networks to find full-time, and sometimes temporary placement positions; 4) a rise in the use of social networking sites.
With less than 50 percent of students in many MBA programs graduating with solid plans for the year ahead, this new recruiting landscape is a hard reality to face. Case in point: check out this worried soon-to-be MBA graduate who's been offered a position at Accenture (with a February start date), but seems to be getting the run-around from HR. Apparently, the firm's start dates for graduating MBAs is all over the map—anywhere from October through March. Says one informed insider, "They said they are putting new hires in a 'holding pattern at the offer stage' and will start them if the demand comes back. There's no set date by which they will make a decision. But nothing is certain and it all depends on the market; they may start more layoffs if things get worse."
Hang in there, folks!
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