Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Robert Half makes lemonade with the (slightly) older set

I Know You're Going to be Pleased With These Numbers by foundphotoslj used under a Creative Commons License

I would think that a recession would benefit temporary agencies, since companies might jettison permanent employees and use temps to fill the gaps. But my thinking is wrong - according to BusinessWeek, sales at Robert Half plunged by one-third in the first quarter, probably because the recession is so bad that companies can't even afford to hire temps. (In addition, there would be huge public relations problems and possible legal problems if a company switched from a permanent to a temporary work force.)

But the BusinessWeek article further notes that Robert Half is positioning itself for the recovery, using a newly-available asset - temp workers with extensive experience who are now available because of the recession. Once business picks up, Robert Half hopes to clean up.

An influx of highly skilled temps could benefit RHI in several ways. Such workers are more profitable than younger employees because companies are willing to pay more to get them. (RHI pays its employees an hourly rate and charges clients a premium, with gross margins averaging 35% to 37%.) The broader range of experience among new temps also helps RHI to move beyond its core business of accounting and finance jobs, to expand its reach in areas such as technology, law, and marketing. Utilities, banks and mortgage companies also want to hire temps with experience in regulation and restructuring. And, Messmer adds, "a highly skilled temp has the added benefit of being able to train the company's permanent staff."

More here.
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