Put in $1 and They'll Put in $3

The head of recruiting for a Fortune 500 retailer tells me in a phone call Wednesday that his company is “struggling big time” right now, along with some other retailers. He’s hoping for a good Christmas — when the company makes 80% of its money — and is optimistic that his company will just hunker down right now and be fine for the long haul.


HotWeb is hiring this fall, for regional reps in various parts of the country.


At a Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement fair Thursday at a Marriott near the
Los Angeles airport:


Richard Vellanoweth, who’s recruiting for the claims department at Allstate, says he has seen “no domino effect” from the mortgage meltdown into the overall economy.


Toyota Motor Sales recruiters tell me they’re “scaling back a little bit” on their recruiting in this economy.


Jennifer Key, a Wachovia recruiter, says the mortgage meltdown has produced lots of fresh new resumes (from competitors laying people off) flowing into her company. She says her recruiting has not been negatively affected.


Carlos Sandoval, Wachovia VP/recruiting diversity strategist in Charlotte, North Carolina, says the company is looking for bilingual recruiters nationwide.


Jackie Blazek, an HSBC recruiter, is meeting a lot of people here, but isn’t quite finding enough people who’ll move to San Diego to take the HSBC jobs (in the auto-finance division) she most wants to fill. Housing prices in southern California are one stumbling block. She’s not too concerned about a possible economic slowdown. “I’ve heard that talk since I’ve been in the industry,” she says. She’s more concerned about filling jobs than hiring freezes. “We’re busy,” she says. Blazek talks up the company’s benefits, which include a 401(k) match of $3 for every $1 an employee contributes, with some limitations.


Janis Ruiz, who runs the entertainment division at Aon, says the financial-sector problems are “not impacting us.” She adds, smiling: “If they’re still paying the celebrities all the money they’re paying them, they’ll still need us to insure them.”


Jane Richardson is looking for State Farm agents, who are independent businesspeople and can earn $300,000 a year. She wants people who are skilled at networking and prospecting — outgoing people. “With insurance, there is no recession,” she says.


Sally Sandoval of Amtrak is having a tough time filling engineering and other jobs in San Jose, Oakland, and San Luis Obispo. There’s “no problem with the economy,” she says.


Joshua Valdez, of BP, is looking for engineers, accountants, procurement, sales, international negotiators, and others. He’s not real worked up about any possible problems in the U.S. economy. “Locally, I don’t see it. The jobs are needed.” Valdez says that environmental regulations have created the need for new employees, and also that new trade regulations have increased the need for financial experts.


Shirley Kelley-Spurgeon of Borders says “retail in general is struggling.” Kelley-Spurgeon, however, sees the challenges as being more about competition from the Internet as well as from discounters like Costco than about a recession beginning. Rather than worry about a possible recession, she believes retailers need to “restrategize” and decide why a customer would prefer their goods over those from a discounter.


“How’s the fair?” I ask Merlinda Lunney of Sara Lee. “Fair,” she says. “I found one person, or else it’d be bad.” Lunney’s looking for people to sell Sara Lee products to foodservice and other companies. As for the company’s business in general, Lunney says, “We’re doing really well.”


Liliana Flores of Washington Mutual says that “everyone’s going through a tough time right now” in businesses touched by the mortgage meltdown. “Hiring has slowed down,” she says. Meanwhile, however, she’s looking for salespeople and others, and she says that Countrywide’s layoffs have provided WaMu some new job candidates. “We’re taking on a lot of their shakeout.” Flores doesn’t sound all that concerned about the mortgage meltdown, saying that it was to be expected after so many years of upward trajectory. “Nothing stays big forever,” she says.


Scott Jaykell of Solar Turbines (owned by Caterpillar) received maybe three resumes he really liked by around 3 p.m., out of about 20 or so. He wasn’t too enthused about that, but said that if he fills one job, he’ll be happy. “We’re going strong. We’re still hiring.” Among the company’s favorite universities: Purdue, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Arizona State, and Rose-Hulman. Solar Turbines seems ahead of the curve when it comes to workforce planning and succession planning; Jaykell says it has a good feel for who’s ready to retire and what the company needs to do to help their replacements prepare to take their places.


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