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Rise in Recruiters Hints at Hiring Surge

Who'll hire the hirers?

This variation on Plato is a question job seekers may want to keep in mind as they look for signs of a resurgence in the U.S. employment market; after all, the recession that wiped out so many other jobs also decimated the ranks of in-house recruiters at companies across the county.

Now the tide may be turning, according to a story in HR trade publication Workforce Management, "RPO Business Surges as Employers Look to Restart Hiring." While few companies so far have an appetite to bring new recruiters in house, the piece reports, recruitment process outsourcing companies are reporting a boost in engagements as corporate America prepares to make new hires.

Just in the past month, Findlay, Ohio-based The Right Thing has signed on three Fortune 500 companies that have gotten rid of much of their recruiting staff, said CEO Terry Terhark.

"Over the last 45 days we have seen a surge in activity," he said. "Generally when you see a downturn like this, the recruiting department is the first to be impacted, and so many of these recruiting organizations have been decimated."

Similarly, Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Spherion has seen a 40 percent increase in new customer prospects on average just over the past four months, said Rebecca Callahan, senior vice president of Spherion's RPO division.

Gary Bragar, lead HR outsourcing analyst at NelsonHall, a global business process outsourcing consultant, predicted to Workforce Management's Jessica Marquez that RPO will grow 12 percent in 2010. "This is the time to test out RPO because most companies don't have the pressure to fill hundreds of positions right away," Bragar said. "Companies can start out with a smaller number of hires and assess how things are going before going full speed ahead."