I’m starting to think that the 20’s are doomed in any millennia.  Are you even in the midst of a global pandemic if you haven’t started an email with “unprecedented times”? For those hoping for some good news in this blog, you’re just going to have to wait a little longer. May 11th to be exact, and the ‘goodness’ of that news is still yet to be determined. That’s when we will look to move down to L2 presumably with a week buffer, as has become customary. Which, if we’re being honest is when the work can begin. It’s positive to move down a level and if you’re in forestry, construction or recruit in those sectors it means you can get out the gate first, that’s the theory anyway. Invoices will be paid at some point but there is an obvious reluctance to grease the wheels.

Only this week I heard about three recruitment agencies putting aside competition in order to band together in the face of a client who is refusing to pay contractors while doing their best to evade temp to perm fees. It’s not fair to say who the client is and what agencies were affected but this is a common theme in today’s market with similar stories yet to emerge. It is encouraging when the industry bands together like that, lord knows there has been heartache. Consultants that have been with agencies for years have found themselves editing their LinkedIn profile to “open to opportunities” just because they recruit Perm. The first wave of consultants that found their way to me was the candidate managers or non-billing consultants, then came people within their 90 days, then further up the tree, those on inflated salaries felt the sting of redundancy. A whole lost generation of consultants has been created due to this disruption. As a rule, consultants start becoming profitable around 9 months in, it’s those consultants I feel for, the real unlucky ones.

However, no one has been left unscathed. I count myself extremely lucky in that I’ve been able to work all 5 days of the week in April, even if there isn’t 5 days’ worth of work in the week! Jon & Sean taking Jacinda’s lead imposing a 20% loss on their own wages. Consultants have been asked to use their holidays to make it through this next month which considering the alternative is worth it, I think. I’ve been tasked with market maps, production, and design of our new Access event to offset the lack of demand. Anyone who thinks that they are recruiting more or has a flurry of candidates at final stage is deluding themselves or worse deceiving a market place that has already been knocked for six. A couple of smaller agencies have ceased operating and I fear that others will follow in their wake.

So, what do we do? Stay positive, patient and importantly stay honest. Although I feel our industry gets a rough ride in terms of honesty, I doubt anyone would’ve been daft enough to take advantage of the wage subsidies, though it seems some businesses have. It’s a great time to let the industry’s collective chest recover from years of beatings. From the consultant point of view, those who are lucky enough to brave the storm I hope are left with a sense of appreciation upon return, that we actually get to do what we love. From a business owners’ point of view set realistic expectations and keep comms clear and simple. The Global Recruiter has advised two things that I think everyone would’ve already done but it’s worth reminding. On the subject of invoices, I do hope that the work recruiters have put into sourcing, prepping and delivering a placement is rewarded, if a role is made redundant that is out of the consultants’ hands and is first and foremost a business decision. You’ve done the work, get your money.

Our industry is trickle-down if commercial businesses aren’t hiring, agencies aren’t looking or (importantly to me) hiring their own staff. NZ has become something of a media darling which bodes well for our duel island nation to get back on track within a reasonable timeframe. I’m staying optimistic that next week may even see a rise in activity but I am also realistic. My next blog is on the 7th which is a few days before the big announcement, I’m hoping to report back with more tangible optimism. Remember, business owners to consultants, if we can be more honest to our staff with expectations and timeframes and consultants if we can acknowledge that we are in a down period and it isn’t ‘business as usual’ perhaps we’ll return to the coalface with more of an honest reputation.

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