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by SixFigureStart | February 11, 2009

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We don?t envy anybody in the recruiting business right now, but we think Jeff Lundwall and JD Rehm have a good plan for the recession.

When they started media search firm Mercury Group a few short years ago, they established three lines of business: executive recruiting, sales training (they?re two former ad sales execs) and career counseling. ?Career counseling for the most part was value-add for the industry, a way to put out goodwill,? says Lundwall. While the executive search business took off and Mercury established a foothold with major publishing firms, those ?value add? lines took a backseat.

Now, that ?value add? has become an opportunity to maintain client relationships, develop new revenue sources and wait out the downturn.

Career counseling includes advising executives on their next moves, analyzing their resumes and making industry introductions; sales training is offered to companies specifically to help them learn how to better leverage opportunities in digital media.

The need for such services is at an all-time high, while executive search has fallen off.

?The number of people calling looking for guidance has increased seven-fold,? says Lundwall.

Their business offers the same value-add career counseling (Mercury shared their resume guidelines with us here), but Mercury has also developed a paid level of service focused on strategy: sitting down with candidates and mapping their skills and experiences to the industry, helping them understand opportunities and where they may need to get training, and making industry introductions.

Meanwhile, their company relationships are undergoing a (temporary) transformation to a service provider of digital media expertise.

?It?s really a way for us to utilize our skills and resources so we can emerge strong on the other side of the recession,? says Lundwall. ?If training is an entree to an organization we want to work with, that?s good for us.?

The shift in emphasis hardly means a shift in focus, however. Even if executive recruiting has become far less than nearly all of Mercury?s business as it once was, that line of business will remain its essential reason for being.

?It?s important for entrepreneurs in any sector to be flexible with market conditions,? says Lundwall. ?We believe executive recruiting will come back strong.? Until it does, Mercury Group will find other ways to keep their client relationships close.

--Posted by Laura Rich, RecessionWire.com

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