Corporate Eye

Recovery: Get Ready for the Wild Ride


In many countries, cities, and industries, the “economic recovery”—with its inevitable hiring spree—may still seem like a distant notion.  But the fact that some things are hard to imagine is one of the reasons we are sometimes surprised.

So I was fascinated by a group of stories on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition recently.  Let’s start:

In Las Vegas. It’s a busy time at the soon-to-open CityCenter complex, where thousands of hospitality workers are being outfitted for their new positions.  Their jobs are among 12,000 created so far by CityCenter.  The lucky 12,000 were culled from 170,000 applicants—and that kind of hiring offensive must require a small army of people to locate, process, equip and orient the new employees.  To say nothing of an industrial-strength website.  Like everything developed by MGM, CityCenter Careers is a seduction in itself, so drop by—and don’t skip the intro.

From a recovery perspective, however . . . hold on for the whiplash.  Completion of CityCenter means 9,000 construction jobs are ending—and with new building projects still far between in most cities, it won’t be easy to absorb that capacity.  On the other hand:

To Poland! Eastern Europe has had a lot of experience already with economic rebuilding, which was not a simple matter after decades of Communist rule.  Poland is one of the happy stories there, however.  We learn that “Strong internal consumer spending has helped insulate the country from the worst effects of the global financial crisis. Poland remains the only country in Europe with positive growth in the second quarter this year.”

And then there’s huge, complicated . . .

China, where:  “The global recession threw some 20 million migrant laborers out of work.” Many of these workers had migrated from the populous and primarily rural interior of China to the coastal cities, where jobs have been more plentiful.  But now many of those unable to remain employed on the coast are going back to their inland homes.

Here’s the twist.  Some returning migrants are using their experience to open new businesses.  And some coastal companies are following incentives into the interior.  “All this has helped make labor a sellers market,” according to the report. Xiang Wenbo, who recently established an association of labor recruiters in Wanzhou, says “We’re now suffering shortages of workers here.  Even though we’re a big labor-exporting region, economic growth is speeding up and local firms need more new hires. Our fees for introducing employees to companies have gone up steeply.”


The moral is that sudden growth in hiring can come about for a variety of reasons—and they are not necessarily predictable. Or even logical.  Above we have three flavors of surprise:

  • Did it make sense to go ahead with a megaventure like CityCenter during such gloomy times?  No telling yet.  But who knows what plans are afoot in the boardrooms of big companies at this moment.  And it’s not likely that executives will consult with HR before deciding to launch some improbably (yet labor-intensive) initiative.
  • Poland’s prosperity is in many respects the result of decisions made during the 1990s, now bearing fruit.  There are plenty of companies around the world where good ideas and patient planning are spring-loaded in the background–so a relatively slight trigger could produce explosive growth.
  • When labor demand exceeds supply all of a sudden, the cost of hiring goes up—whether in China, Manchester, or Chicago.  Planning ahead can help reduce this effect.

Big takeaway:  Be ready.

(Thanks to ishrona for the colorful carousel.)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.