The best recruiting advice I ever received was back in 2004 when I first formed my executive recruiting business. It came from the Founder of a highly successful retained search firm, “Mark, unemployment is 4%. Everyone is working. No one cares about you or returns your phone call. People will dismiss you. People will treat you poorly. But one day, my friend, the pendulum with swing, and your cell phone will light up like a Christmas tree.”

That day was August 2008 when Depression 2.0 hit. And again this year as hiring fell an astounding 75% over the last three months. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near the bottom. Historic government debt, consumer debt and inflation have created the perfect storm. Fed will raise interest rates several more times this year. Here are five important tips for job seekers during a Recession.

Understand the Market Conditions: Companies are not hiring, they are laying off. If you are in the job market understand this: Things have changed dramatically in 2023. This is now a buyer’s market (hiring companies). If you got laid off and expect to receive three job offers in a week…you are going to be very disappointed. Expect the Recession to last another 12 to 18 months. In a down market you have to be flexible on compensation and relocation, which are the next two subjects.

Compensation: This is the number one issue I see with candidates: Unreasonable compensation demands. THE GOLD RUSH IS OVER and we are nowhere near the bottom. This is going to get very, very ugly. I get it: Anyone that tells you money doesn’t matter…doesn’t have any. That stated, be reasonable about compensation. If you are unemployed, be flexible. Executive Recruiters shy away from unemployed people asking for huge salary bumps.

Relocation: Most of the remote and hybrid opportunities are gone. It was awesome while it lasted, right? If you insist on working remotely you may be on the beach (unemployed) for a long time. To find the best long-term career opportunity, there is a pretty good chance you will have to relocate. If you can’t relocate, work with an Executive Recruiter LOCAL to your city – they will have the local jobs.

Cost of Living: COL matters! Had a candidate making $175,000 in Los Angeles apply for a $175,000 role in Las Vegas. That $175,000 LA compensation is $125,000 LV dollars. California has a 13.2% state income tax; Nevada is zero. You will not be getting your Los Angeles salary to live in Las Vegas. Cost of living matters.

Spamming Your Resume: Be careful about casting a wide net. Submitting your resume to five Executive Recruiters does not get you five times the career opportunities. In my case, I won’t work with executives that are spamming their resume to a thundering herd of recruiters and applying to online jobs. Approximately 85% of career opportunities come from your peers and 10% from Executive Recruiters, so applying online is akin to playing the lottery.