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April 3, 2009

Some Employers See Recession as Hiring Opportunity

Despite today's dismal employment report, the Wall Street Journal today tells how a few employers are using the current recession as a way to bolster their workforces or get an edge on competitors. Some the companies mentioned in the article are hiring staff with science and engineering backgrounds. They are making sure that those hired during this slump will still be around when the job market improves.

As a result of the current weak market, applicants are flooding the few employers that are still hiring.The pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S, based in Denmark, has seen its revenues jump from sales of a new diabetes drug, which in turn has enabled the company to staff its research facility in Seattle, Washington, which opened in October. Novo Nordisk employs some 27,000 people worldwide including 3,000 in the U.S. The company received 4,000 applications for 80 openings in Seattle. Quoted in the article, a company human-resources manager says that the applicants include former research directors laid off from other companies. Many were highly qualified and willing to work in lower-level jobs.

Some companies fortunate enough to keep hiring are using the opportunity to become better positioned to deal with larger competitors.  Silicon Valley-based software maker Model N told the Journal it plans to add 30-40 employees to its 275 person staff in 2009. The company is focusing its hiring particularly on former workers at larger competitors such as Oracle and SAP AG--companies that have either frozen hiring or are shedding professionals.

Mistakes in hiring are no less costly in a recession than at other times--and making good choices can be hard with so many applicants to choose from. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin expects 1.5 million applications for  20,000 positions anticipated this year. Ken Disken, the company's V.P. for human resources, told the Journal, "We want to make sure they want to come to Lockheed Martin to pursue a career, not a job."

Still, in a companion article Disken noted that Lockheed Martin is still trying to be flexible--to remain able to accommodate what he calls "pop-ups," last-minute applications from recently laid-off workers or graduating seniors who have had their original job offers rescinded.

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