I feel the need to temper the optimism of my mid-year report on executive employment, with a post more fraught with the anxiety that any professional in the talent acquisition industry might be feeling in a global economy that appears to be teetering on the brink of, if not collapse, then a prolonged period of stagnation. As all prognosticators do, let me get the defense of my earlier predictions out of the way.
First, I hedged on Greece and Greece came through in a big way in terms of throwing Europe into economic consternation. Second, the debt ceiling debacle accomplished something that I really did not think possible in my lifetime; it shook global confidence in the full faith and credit of the United States of America. I’d like to thank our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle for that little present. Which leads me to this question: If two U.S. political parties can’t agree on fiscal policy, how can 17 sovereign states begrudgingly connected by a common currency do it?
So, given the uncertainty produced by the events of the last quarter, what keeps this talent acquisition professional up at night?
- Executive hiring will slow to a crawl. While we are finishing up a very strong third quarter, our industry is a lagging indicator and it’s completely plausible to think that hiring among the senior management ranks might fall off a cliff à la Q4 2008.
- The Phillies will somehow find a way to blow it in the NLDS.
- Companies will continue to sit on the hoard of cash they have built up over the past three years. Balance sheets look very healthy but corporations have long memories. Do you think Jeff Immelt will ever again be caught short of cash to fund daily operations at GE? To a certain extent, these war chests have been amassed as insurance against the potential of credit markets grinding to a halt.
- My daughter will bring home a serious boyfriend after her first semester at college. It took me a year to get rid of the last loser. To any boy interested in dating either of my daughters, I will never be your friend (just so you know).
- The economy we have today will be the economy we have this time next year. This is a paraphrase from one of the cable pundits (although I can’t remember which one). With a partisan Congress and a Presidential election coming up, it’s going to be hard to get any meaningful change within the next 12 months.
- My wife will finally put two and two together and find that client “emergencies” invariably occur when my mother-in-law is in town for a visit.
- Job growth will continue to languish as consumer confidence ebbs and employers will become more and more paralyzed as a result. Without a significant reduction in unemployment, 1% growth in GDP per quarter is just where we’re going to be for the foreseeable future.
Luckily for me, I hear that you don’t require as much sleep as you get older. Also, a little anxiety is always a good motivator, in my opinion. Let’s hope our global leaders find a similar motivation to step up and confront some of the systemic challenges we are facing; we need a long-term plan rather than the stop-gap measures we are currently seeing from our leaders at home and abroad. In the meantime, I’m down to five hours of sleep on a good night. So, what’s keeping you up?