Warning Signs: When people talk about how bad the job market is, they often point to the health-care industry as an exception: That's doing OK, at least .
Now comes Elliot Gordon, a managing vice president for Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruiter in Newport Beach. Gordon says industries in decline often hire lots of top executives--hoping to reverse their fortunes--just before they go down the chute.
"When an industry gets in trouble," he recently told a group of executives studying for MBAs at UC Irvine, "we often see frenetic hiring activity at the top in a last-ditch effort to find a messiah who, it is hoped, can walk on quicksand."
It happened in the energy industry in the early 1980s; in real estate in the late '80s; and it's now happening in financial services.