It is always difficult to comment on the economy within the laboratory informatics industry because there are so many segments. While one segment is busy, others might be seeing a downtown. With that said, keep in-mind that my comments might not apply to all segments.
Now that I’ve given that disclaimer, let me say that this particular January seems extremely busy. January tends to be the busiest month for contacts, both by phone and e-mail, where companies are trying to start new projects and looking for potential resources, even if they are looking for a future quarter in the year. This year, there seems to be more activity than the previous few years. I seem to get phone calls or e-mails every day asking if I can supply various services or if I know someone who provides the required services.
Compared to the past, fewer of these contacts are made by actual customers, more by recruiters. Additionally, I should add that there are often multiple contacts for the same resource made by multiple recruiters, which is normal, since customers try to hedge their bets by employing a variety of firms to fill a spot not realizing those firms are all calling basically the same small group of people they find in places like LinkedIn or similar tools. Even though I don’t have any interest in being contacted by recruiters, I try to be polite and pass along any names I might know of people who need the work. I build my business on getting customer projects not on helping some stranger build their consulting business. So, my only reason for responding to these recruiters is really to help those people who need to find project work.
Most of the phone calls are for project managers (which I don’t provide, myself), Sample Manager LIMS developers and LabWare LIMS developers. At this point, I do not have any more names to pass along for any of these. Recruiters only call with full-time on-site positions and all the people I know in these areas, including myself, are really booked-up.
Customers who read this and wonder how they can find people, right now, at the busiest time, can consider several things. First of all, while it really isn’t a customer’s business how much goes to a consultant in a subcontracting situation, if you’re in a situation where the consulting company doesn’t have a resource and is subcontracting it out, and maybe even into several layers of subcontracting, it could be that the final rate is too low to attract the level of person you are asking for. Also, I have run into situations where customers clearly state that they don’t need the person on-site but the recruiter insists that the person travel to the site. You might wonder why the recruiter does this, but it’s because it’s easier to sell on-site time, especially for people who don’t know our industry very well and aren’t used to selling people who aren’t local. They just aren’t comfortable with having people they can’t see and touch. Think of it as a game of telephone — by the time the resource requirement goes through many hands, it is harder for the customer needing the requirement filled and the people who might actually be filling it to really know what the other might be flexible about because they’re too far removed from each other to ask.
By the way, that’s one of the many reasons I seldom take on subcontracts — it’s easier to talk to the customer or them to speak with me and faster to work-out the details of how we’ll work together, what they need, what I can provide, and all the other details when we speak directly. Communications are fast and quick, that way, and less prone to misinterpretation. So, if you’re reading this and you’re a customer looking for someone, just call me directly — don’t have someone else do it for you.