Job mart fills talent pool

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Restructurings and layoffs are rattling consumer-goods companies and displacing executives up and down the org chart. Prodigal dot-com executives are finding it difficult to return to old economy marketing posts. On-campus recruiting is drying up; a salary slump seems likely. In short, it's an excellent time to be in consumer-goods marketing.

For some talented marketing executives stuck in the glut and struggling to find or maintain work, it's indeed a difficult, painful time. But for employers, the talent pool has rarely been deeper or richer. Not only are a plethora of package-goods pros available, many combine package-goods expertise with invaluable entrepreneurial dot-com experience.

The dot-com bomb is also a boon for marketers looking for promising young talent. Business schools are reporting more interest in consumer-goods marketing-welcome news after years when that industry consistently lost out to the cachet and compensation of Internet companies.

The correction is overdue. Emboldened by a surging stock market, consumer-goods companies overstaffed with abandon, and the boring old blue chips found themselves forced to bid for talent against Internet startups. Thankfully, that dizzying spiral has come to a halt, a move that will separate the best players from the less skilled who signed on for swollen salaries during the height of the frenzy. It may be an unsettling landing for young managers hired for top dollar since the mid '90s, who, as Amy Hoover of Atlanta's Talent Zoo put it, have spent "their whole working career with everyone riding high."

Cincinnati executive recruiter Ann Badanes summed it up nicely: "I think everybody's sense of their value might be a little inflated relative to the market right now." The readjustment of that attitude can only benefit marketing companies, which now have their pick of the best and brightest marketing minds. Managers should be rewarded handsomely where it's merited. But sanity, once more, should prevail. M

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