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Behind the Eight Ball

Competition is always fierce for recruiting top talent in bull and bear markets. However, the current economic environment is creating added problems for companies under stress. The most extreme cases are those companies that have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The January 5th issue of the Wall Street Journal included a feature article focused on “Recruiting Talent to Ailing Firms” and pointed out that “sick businesses need fresh talent” but, new hires are commanding extraordinary compensation premiums and rich severance agreements. Ironically, this situation also exists for companies that are not in bankruptcy. For example, and closer to home, the precipitous decline of REIT stock prices into single digits, management shake-ups and daily news about the chances of their survival, all lead to significant recruiting challenges. On the private side, owners are forced to be more transparent with their financial information as candidates demand more disclosure. In tough economic times, executives are more risk adverse with their careers, and if they do consider making a move into a dicey situation, there will be a compensation premium and guarantees. On the flip side, healthy companies have a significant leg up in attracting top talent who will underwrite the company’s ability to capitalize on the recovery.

Tony LoPinto is CEO of Equinox Partners, an executive search firm specializing in the real estate industry, and parent company of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
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