BV hiring (and firing) world gone ‘topsy turvy’

BVWireIssue #82-4
July 29, 2009

After years of feverish and at times frustrated searching for qualified BV employees, “the supply-demand pendulum has swung toward the employer with an intensity I never thought I’d see,” says John Borrowman, principal of Borrowman Baker, LLC (Franklin, TN), who describes the current climate of the BV recruitment world as dizzying. “Layoffs at the worker-bee level have combined a firm’s need for cost-cutting with its desire for continued performance assessment. At higher levels in the professional hierarchy, layoffs have been the only way to bring expenses in line with revenues.”

Hiring (and there is some) is now concentrated at either end of the experience spectrum: the lower level analyst whose compensation isn’t much of a factor, and the revenue-generator who will pay for him/herself anyway. “Practices that are hiring at the middle level (manager) are aiming to meet a clearly defined need as opposed to the ‘opportunistic’ approach that was the norm not so long ago,” Borrowman says. Even mid-level positions can be problematic, however. A common tactic is to increase the pool of candidates to regional or even national scope, but even a laid-off BV professional can’t always convince a working spouse to relocate and seek re-employment in an uncertain market. “In the meantime, recruiters who’ve been attracted by the industry’s recent boom years are buzzing around like flies,” he adds. “It’s not unusual to find as many as half-dozen online job ads for the same position.”

Things will get better, he predicts, echoing a sentiment of the inevitable that most in the BV business (and larger world) may feel right now. “It’s just a question of how soon. I don’t expect hiring to pick up materially until Q2–maybe Q3–of 2010. Practice leaders will be loath to part with the additional profit they’ve created by chopping payroll costs. On the other hand (as one senior practitioner suggested to me), when they find themselves pouring over spreadsheets at 2 a.m. for the fourth night in a row, they might decide it’s time to hire some help.”

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