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Economic Cycles Through the Recruitment Consultant’s Eye

20 May 2024 |

By Nick Coleridge-Watts

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Economies are by their very nature, cyclical. There’s nothing particularly staggering about that statement, it’s not something only a recruitment consultant like me would say; it’s made regularly by professional economic commentators, as well as many an anxious-looking government spokesperson. And yet it’s interesting that each time an economy gets sluggish or shrinks there’s always a tendency to react as though there’ll never be a rebound.

In recent weeks the economy has been declared to be out of recession, alongside gradually improving inflation rates. That’s great news, no question. Except it’s not really “news” in the pure sense, because it was always going to happen eventually. I know, that “eventually” is doing a lot of heavy lifting! Don’t get me wrong, I’m no economist and do not claim any special insight into the complex fluctuations of international markets. I did not predict that now would be the time things started to improve, nor am I confident they won’t get worse again before the year is out. I am one of millions who simply rides the storm, and makes educated guesses on the best way to steer the ship.

What I do know, however, as sure as I know the sun will come up in the morning, is that nobody in their right mind would ever genuinely expect permanent economic growth. It just isn’t a thing. Or rather, it’s never been a thing so far. Brilliant thing to aim for, but to date it has been elusory. Cyclical economic activity is, to be blunt, what we all sign up for at birth, whether we like it or not.

VWA was founded in 1989. This year is our 35th birthday. Economic low points we’ve endured include the savings & loan crisis and accompanying recession, the pound falling out the ERM, the global financial crisis and accompanying recession, Brexit uncertainty, COVID-19, the post-COVID recession, post-COVID inflation and so on… Obviously I would never claim that staying in business throughout those dips was easy, or that those who didn’t were doing something wrong. But we are still here, and we ain’t going nowhere, regardless of what the economy throws at us in the future…

The reason is that throughout these dips, companies still always need staff. Good staff. Both to hire and retain. Therefore they’ll always need good recruitment partners to find them, and advise, if asked, on how to keep them. That’s what we do. We don’t claim to get it right all the time; no honest recruiter could. But we do the work, we listen to the clients and candidates, and we try our best to match. And when we think a match will be difficult to achieve, we try to give constructive advice as to why. The best way to survive economic uncertainty is be good at what you do.

London is saturated with recruiters. They all say the same things as we do – “bespoke service”, “really get to know our clients”, “provide a unique insight” etc. Some definitely do that, no question. Others say it because it’s just what you say. I can’t predict when the next economic contraction will be, nor can I say which recruitment consultancies will still be standing afterwards. All I know is two things: there will always be economic contractions, and there’ll always be a VWA to work with you before, during and after them.

If you’d like to hear more about our services or anything covered in this article, or would like to make an enquiry, please reach out to recruit@vwa.com.

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