Welcome to the first of what should be monthly updates, focused on what I’m seeing in my business, which may be of relevance to you and yours.

The last thing I want to do is bombard your inbox with useless spam, but I’d like to think I gain insights into what’s happening “on the ground”, by virtue of:

  • fielding any number of calls per day from people considering career changes;
  • meeting most days with sales leaders within both corporates and SMEs, to talk about issues facing their businesses;
  • conducting up to a dozen in-depth, face-to-face interviews with salespeople each week; and
  • attending industry-specific events such as MESCA Briefings, Bowen Basin Mining Club and Brisbane Mining Club functions every month.

By way of background, I’ve been recruiting since September 2003, with a specific focus on sales, sales leadership and business development roles across the resources, construction and engineering sectors for the vast majority of that time.

Enjoy, and please feel welcome to give me your feedback (I’m a recruiter, I can take you being direct!).

2013 so far:

Shorter Christmas-New Year breaks. From what I saw, people tended not to take extended breaks into January this time around. It might have something to do with wanting to be seen to be keeping the shoulder to the wheel in tough times, but Monday, 7 January seemed to be “back to work day”.

The exodus from corporate. Candidates continue to be attracted to the idea of leaving corporates for SMEs. Their reasons? Budgets increasing while people numbers and resources head the other way, convoluted bonus systems that always seem to end up with the same result – little to no payout despite strong individual performance, and a flattening of organisational structures turning the corporate ladder into a corporate stepladder, are all specific reasons I’ve heard so far this year.

Safety-first thinking. Plenty of well-performed people, not happy with their current lot in life, are keeping their powder dry in terms of jumping ship. Their rationale? Largely, the fear of a move turning out to be the wrong one, leaving them exposed in a tough economic climate. What that might mean, in terms of staff turnover if/when the economy improves, only time will tell.

Who wants to be a manager? Sales managers, particularly in larger businesses, are finding that increasing reporting demands and administrative burdens are restricting their capacity to do what they really want to do – spend time in the field coaching their sales teams and talking to customers. In addition, they’re seeing companies remove layers of middle management as they “right-size”. It’s perhaps not surprising that I’m increasingly talking with people attracted to the idea of pursuing senior sales or BDM roles, rather than continuing to lead sales teams.

A bit of confidence! No matter what the numbers might be saying, and time will tell whether this is grounded in anything other than hope, there’s a definite note of optimism out there. The mood in Mackay, for instance, had definitely lifted between my November and January visits there.

As always, please feel welcome to call anytime, should you be looking to source high-quality sales talent or wanting to discuss where your career is heading