Although most special events professionals find it's business as usual—recession-era business as usual, that is—some are taking the unusual step of hiring staffers.
An online poll from Special Events shows that 41 percent of respondents aren't adding any new staff at present to handle their event load. However, another 40 percent are bringing freelancers on when needed for events, and 17 percent are actually hiring new employees.
HELP WANTED--RIGHT NOW
Minneapolis-based Apres Party and Tent Rental is hiring for a critical post: a fulltime warehouse/production manager. "This position is very important to us because it helps us in all areas including supervising employees as well as ensuring product is safe, clean and ready to be rented," notes Apres chief operating officer Michael Feldbaum.
He has been moved by the rush of responses his ad received: "In the first 24 hours of having the job opening online, we received 56 resumes from individuals looking to fill the position," he says. "Many of these people are qualified, and a large amount of people were not but were desperate to find work. It was extremely difficult to see the number of the people who had been laid off from companies that they had been with for 15-plus years because of the poor economy."
Ian McElfish, head of Phoenix-based Enliven Production Group, just added four new employees to his company for the best of reasons: an uptick in business. "We historically have run a little lean and relied on subcontracted team members to fill in the holes," he notes. "Recently we signed some multi-year contracts with new clients and decided to bring more of our end services in-house to ensure our high standards are being delivered every time all the time."
A GIG OR A COMMITMENT?
Even with high unemployment, finding the right people wasn't a snap, McElfish says. "Those that are at the quality level that we are looking for are staying where they are and are afraid to make a move," he explains. And he found that some applicants were dedicated freelancers who weren't ready to become dedicated company members.
"By the time you actually start to see a benefit to the team from a new hire, it's not uncommon to have tens of thousands of dollars or more invested," McEflish says. "I would say for those who are looking for a permanent gig, be prepared to hang around for a while and make the person who is hiring understand that. It's tough to hire someone if you get the feeling they'll only be around until their phone starts ringing again."
GOING ON THE OFFENSE
Craig Erlich, CEO of Detroit-based experiential agency Pulse 220, is unafraid to hire in these tough times. His competitors "are still huddled up in their caves," he says. "We are going on the offense."
Pulse 220 is looking for professionals to join its business development team; the right candidates will have a mix of passion, commitment, desire to succeed, and a solid track record. And there's no time like the present. Erlich says, "We believe that now is the best time to invest in our business and to invest in people who can help us grow."
Next week, the perspective from temporary staffing agencies.
Photo by iStockphoto.com © Rob Sylvan.