With unemployment levels nearing record highs, the Dow sagging just above 8,600, and more bad news on the way, it’s no surprise that recruiters are becoming increasingly perplexed by their jobs. 

The heady days of effortlessly moving kings and pawns around the chessboard are over (for now). Even pedestrian practices like cold calling and scouring LinkedIn for leads are no longer essential in the new, new economy. Headhunters who once made a priority out of hitting the phones to forge new relationships with mainstream and emerging talent are now being inundated with calls from executives at every level. At the same time, they’re being told to close open positions and postpone new hires.

So what’s a recruiter or headhunter to do? Manage talent. That’s right, actually manage the careers of the people you’ve placed (and prospered from) as you’re sitting idle and waiting for the economy to turn.

The problem is that many of these folks aren’t very good at managing talent. They’re hunters NOT managers. They seek opportunity and grab it for you but know nothing of how to point you north or actively manage your career.

This economy calls for re-calibration of skill-sets on the part of recruiters. Career guidance and assistance must include information on how to:

  • Manage your personal brand
  • Ignite your network 
  • Prepare for interviews 
  • Network using social media
  • Utilize the Web and job boards
  • Display your accomplishments
  • Think 3 jobs ahead

Individuals looking for jobs should understand how to harness these elements on their own but also seek out ‘partners’ who take a long-range perspective on their careers.

Panic and Freak Out