Friday, June 13, 2008

Strike while the iron is cold

Some A/E firms can make chicken salad out of, well, you know the expression.

We spoke with a client the other day who told us that they are aggressively hiring right now, in spite of the uneven economy.

Sounds counterintuitive, right? After all, most A/E firms are struggling to keep their head above water, with the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index only rebounding in April from its all-time low in March, while the national unemployment rate posted its largest monthly jump since 1986 in May, meaning companies are letting people go, not adding resources.

Here’s an example. Upon joining PSMJ earlier this week, I renewed acquaintances with many colleagues I met while working at Zweig White Information Services the past five years. I heard from the CEO of a 200-plus-person engineering firm in California who told me, “We’re hanging in there, Ed. Stock was up a little in 2007, net revenues and profits are ahead in 2008 so far, but we have scaled back some staff, so less costs. We’re just waiting out the storm and converting staff involved in private work to more public agency projects.”

So while this firm puts people on the street, his competitors could be snapping them up.

Think about it.

If your competitors are letting people go, all of a sudden, the talent pool that seemed nonexistent just 18 months ago is flush with candidates.

We’ll talk later about how you can capitalize on a down economy.

Ed Hannan

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