Independent: Headhunters hit by the recession

independent-dublinBy Anne-Marie Walsh Industry correspondent, Monday June 15 2009

OVER a third of recruiters have lost their own jobs, due to the record hike in unemployment.

The industry dedicated to matching vacancies with workers has itself been decimated over the last 12 months with a total of 4,500 jobs lost in what was once a 12,000-strong sector.

Many employment agencies have drastically reduced their staffing levels as the numbers signing on soared by 97pc.

The group representing employment agencies, the National Recruitment Federation (NRF), saw just a handful of clients go to the wall but has recorded a massive drop in the number of employees.

NRF president Frank Collins, said he knew of one agency where staffing levels plummeted from 12 to just one person, and another where they fell from 28 to eight.

He said “green shoots’ were visible in some sectors of the economy, although employers were waiting to see if this would lead to a recovery.

Managing director of recruitment website employireland.ie, Ivan Stojanovic, said his business survived purely because it was not heavily dependent on placement adverts.

“Recruiters have been the hardest hit of any sector,” he said. “As time goes by, it’s getting worse and worse. I believe the figure of those who have lost their jobs in recruitment could be around two out of three.

“If there are no signs of the unemployment rate dropping, we are facing the current Spanish rate of 18pc.”

However, Mr Collins was more optimistic about the prospects for recruiters following a pickup in ads in the past few months.

“January and February were the worst months, but since then it has picked up,” he said. “Recruiters had to cut their cloth to suit their revenue.

“Without placements, there is no revenue.”

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry correspondent