Hi Danny,

I’m a 20-year veteran of the business and have had a fair amount of success ($5+ million in placements). However, I specialize in IT and, as of late, find myself rethinking whether I’m still capable in this field. I’ve zipped two months in a row and am having a very hard time staying positive and pounding the rock. I find myself disgusted by 2 p.m. and indulging my own personal “Weapons of Mass Distraction.” I’ve worked my way out of slumps before and weathered the recessions of ‘82 and ‘91/92 but am finding this recession even more frustrating. Other than increasing my confidence through success (placements) which obviously works, is there another elixir of confidence out there? What should I be reading, listening to, drinking, smoking? Hey, trust me; I’m keeping all options open on this.

Danny’s response,

If this were 12-18 months ago, my advice would be the same that I gave the two IT recruiters in my office, and the two IT recruiters I had working virtually for me on the West Coast. That is to say: “Stick a fork in it. You’re done in IT. Move on. Let’s try Biotech.” In the case of the people in my office – one does pharmacists, the other does Biotech informatics.

They were still capable, and so are you, but the market was gone, and knowing when to concede and start over is VERY tough for successful people, because it smells to them like quitting, and that is SO counterintuitive, so against everything they have built their careers on, that they fight it.

And that fight is often impressive, indefatigable, and unfortunately, a waste of precious time.

But it’s not 12-18 months ago! The Dow is pushing 9500 as I write this. Indexes are up and business spending is finally starting to loosen up. Tax cuts, federal stimulus, and the inexorable effect of obsolete technology are finally starting to take hold. 2004 will be an absolute KILLER year in our industry, and for me there is nothing sadder than someone who fought it out during the nadir of the recession, only to give up just as the switch is being thrown on the long dormant ride at the amusement park. I don’t think you need to leave your contacts and your expertise and your comfort zone of IT. You just need to believe.

For most of us our belief system is conditional. We believe in God until something awful happens and something or someone is taken from us and we don’t think it’s fair. We believe in our diets until we are at a barbecue or an airport and it is inconvenient, and then we believe its okay to eat what we want. We believe the business is a phenomenal way to spend our working lives, until it becomes hard or we zip two months, and then we don’t know if we are in the right business. A belief system has no meaning if it is conditional on ease, convenience, or unchanging positive feedback.

Your belief system must overcome the vagaries of the economy and your moments of self doubt. Faith is believing in things you can’t see.

You can’t see that you are positioned perfectly today. But you are. You already are where you want to be.

Now, (he said, quietly putting his fire and brimstone back in the closet) in the meantime, you need a new approach – a technique to serve as your elixir.

I want you to call 15 CTO/CIOs a day, and rather than pitch a candidate, I want you to tell them you have, after 20 years of exhaustive study, found the “secrets of retaining your top IT people.” You would be happy to do the 90 minute seminar for them for free, in exchange for future consideration in satisfying their staffing needs. I have confidence that you could put this seminar together in no time. Once you get the gig, call another 25 IT people to do the research for the gig. (Don’t forget to ask for business after getting their input.)

Do this with 25-40% of your marketing time for two months….it will work.

I leave you with a lyric, since I know you write them…from the amazing Aimee Mann:

Like most amazing things
It’s easy to miss
And easy to mistake

For when things are really great
It just means everything’s in its place.