As a native New Orleanian, the events of the past several weeks have hit home not only on a personal basis (my mother still lives there and is now safe in Tennessee), but also on a professional basis in a very real way.
Hurricane Katrina adds adversity to the Gulf Coast plastics industry's hiring challenges. If companies are fortunate enough to have plants that withstood the punishment of Katrina, many of their employees may be seeking refuge far away. How do these companies cope?
I have the unusual benefit of seeing positive or negative shifts in hiring trends based on the macroeconomic picture. For the last six months, I've seen a slight tilt of the scale on the positive side as far as an improved economy in the plastics industry. But, this means firms are going to face challenges finding candidates.
Unfortunately, challenges like this are not new to the plastics industry. In the past few years we've experienced hurricanes, 9-11, resin price increases, a shift to a more globalized business strategy, etc., etc. The industry has worked hard to overcome these obstacles.
Six months to a year ago, we were very busy with candidates looking for jobs, and we were busy trying to find companies that needed someone with those qualifications. Companies were able to pick and choose their candidates from a wide pool of qualified plastics professionals.
Well, what a difference six months makes. I'm here to say that the wide, deep pool of readily available and desirable candidates has diminished! We're entering a ``candidate-short'' era in the plastics industry.
This development is backed up by both our recent hiring-trends survey of hiring managers in the industry and a salary survey of plastics industry professionals.
This is a negative circumstance to a very positive sign of an improved economy that reaches far beyond the plastics industry. At a recent headhunters convention, I heard the same sentiment echoed from other industries.
The next question is: How do we deal with it? My best advice is to go beyond traditional recruitment methods to find other ways to attract worthy candidates.
And, to those Katrina-affected companies that are trying to figure out their short-term future, remember that the plastics industry is made up of companies and individuals that are behind you and wish you a speedy recovery.
Gros is president of Gros Plastics Recruiters in Brentwood, Tenn.