Seasoned HR directors become prime head hunting targets

HR directors who plied their trade through the recession of the early 1990s have become prime targets for headhunters as the economic climate worsens.

National headhunting firms have reported a growing need for experienced board-level professionals who were working between 1990 and 1992.

Phil Sharp, managing director of Executive Headhunters, told Personnel Today: “We’re seeing more requirements to headhunt HR directors who worked in the last recession, especially for people who have experience in change management.

“Over the past 10 years, boardroom directors have only had experience with the good times, so now with an uncertain economic outlook a lot of employers are looking to bolster their boards with financial and HR directors who are used to making redundancies and large-scale change management,” he added.

Paul Chapman, managing director of Talentfinders, said HR professionals with experience from the last recession were in demand because of their skills. “It’s easier to reduce expenses than increase income in a recession, and one way is by cutting staff,” he said.

Headhunters throughout the UK have seen an increase in requests since the credit crunch began in 2007. Chapman said his firm’s workload had doubled in the past 12 months, while Managing and Search Consulting said it had received as much work in the past three months as in the previous year.

Mike Emmott, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development policy adviser, said the increased demand could show that the implications of the economic downturn were spreading beyond finance and construction.

“I think it might be a leading indicator of problems in other sectors if employers are approaching headhunters looking for people with these skills,” he said.

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