food Stationery

2003 FOOD RECRUITING OUTLOOK: ONE PERSON'S OPINION  by Wade Palmer

     I've been a Headhunter in the Food & Beverage manufacturing industries for nearly 28 years. During that time I have seen some good times, some bad times and a lot of so-so times. Even given all of that I am still a lousy prognosticator (maybe I should become an Economist). At this time last year I felt the economy as a whole, and particularly in the food & beverage industry, would have rebounded strongly by the beginning of 2003 but, as we all know, that's not happened...yet. On average I would rate 2002 a five on a ten-point scale. I've seen worse but I have also seen better. Many Recruiters did just fine --- particularly those with a solid base of experience and clients. Others fared poorly while many left our industry for greener (I hope) pastures.
     We all know the landscape of industry, including food & beverage, changed following 9-11 and never seemed to fully recover last year. Unemployment crept up, though still at historically low levels. Consumer confidence faltered. Our confidence in the integrity of industry leadership (and accounting practices) all but vanished. The war on terrorism and the war of words with Iraq left us nervous and confused. And the stock market gave even the most confident and resilient investor ulcers.
     So what does this mean for the Food industry in 2003 (and beyond)? If you've read this far you're either really bored or are a glutton for punishment so, what the heck, here goes...
     Our economy is essentially healthy and probably will recover nicely with little intervention on the part of our government (barring any unanticipated developments). As always, the food & beverage industry is more resilient than most industries and the highs and lows are not as significant. More and more food & beverage employers seem poised to pick up hiring in 2003, but do remain cautious. It seems they look ahead a few months now rather than a few years and I don't see this changing anytime soon. Thus, they will be quick to expand or contract based on volatile current economic and world events. However, even companies that are hiring seem to be more conservative. For example, a company may fill only five openings in 2003 rather than ten. Hiring seems moderately healthy in most disciplines and across most levels, but IT continues to lag. Activity also seems to be generally the same for all major regions of the country. There does seem to be a greater number of small to medium size manufacturers growing and expanding (thus hiring) and that is a promising trend for the industry. This trend should continue in 2003.
     The wild cards, of course, are whether we go to war with Iraq and terrorism. A quick decisive victory in Iraq will likely have little impact, but a prolonged war could be devastating (i.e. the loss of life and resulting eroding of public support, the cost, consumer confidence, oil prices, etc.). And let us all hope and pray we avoid any significant terrorist attacks.
     More and more Employers are recognizing the potential of the Internet (job boards, company web sites, etc.) and I assure you this will continue in 2003. But, this need not be to the exclusion of Recruiters. Sure, many Employers would prefer to fill vacancies without paying fees and that’s one of the attractions of Internet recruiting. Yet there remains many jobs for which Employers will require the services of Recruiters and that’s not likely to change for many years. Never before have so many top flight Job Seekers and Employers been so accessible so quickly to so many Recruiters. I see this continuing to expand in 2003. As powerful as the Internet has become to the individual Recruiter it will never entirely replace the more traditional recruiting activity of picking up the phone and calling a client or recruiting a good candidate. Old and new must, and should, live in harmony.
     Not exactly gutsy predictions but now, more than at any time in recent memory, there is so much of the unknown one must take into consideration. I'll have to wait, like everyone else to see what happens. I suggest you print this article then put it at the bottom of the birdcage or use it to train your new puppy. Trust me, that is where it belongs. I wish the best to everyone in 2003. Let's hope we all look back on it as a year of health, prosperity and success.
    Wade Palmer, owner of Wade Palmer and Associates, has been a Recruiter for 28 years specializing in the food and beverage manufacturing industries, and is co-owner of Careersinfood.com.

 

Have a great day, and have fun cooking!

Culinary-yours

Chef Geir

    

 
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