Recruiting in a Recession: How Your Company Can Thrive in the New Labor Landscape

Kristin Hunter
| Kristin Hunter
Talent Acquisition
recruiting in a recession

After identifying that cost per hire goes up during a recession, the next step is to take necessary measures to ensure you won’t fall into the same trap as many others, by wasting time and money with inefficient hiring practices. While there will be no shortage of candidates, it’s the recruiting team’s job to make sure the quality of hire is staying high, and that roles are not staying vacant for too long. Every day that passes with a vacant role adds to the total recruiting cost.

Start by Vetting Internal Candidates

Companies of all sizes have an internal pool of talent to tap into. While larger businesses have many more candidates to choose from, applicants coming from within your organization are already going to be up to speed on specific processes, and have the skills that are already required for new roles. This ease at which internal candidates can be transitioned to a new role makes them incredibly valuable when it comes to hiring during a recession. 

To help this process, it’s important your company promotes a strong onboarding experience with developmental programs that aim to keep existing employees engaged and always learning. When the time comes to promote or fill high skilled roles, managers can rest assured knowing employees have been given the knowledge to succeed right from the start.

Define the Ideal Candidate for a Role and Stick to that Definition

With the goal of keeping roles vacant for the least amount of time possible, it’s crucial that the recruiting team and managers who make final hiring decisions are on the same page. Quality of hire is important, but many hiring managers will pass on perfectly qualified candidates with the hopes that a purple squirrel candidate will be applying any day now.

The best way to combat this is by setting high but realistic expectations at the start so that when a candidate does make it through, managers have no issue pulling the trigger. Be sure to define what requirements are expected, what the ideal candidate profile is, and even what it means to be a high performer. Sights should be set high, but these requirements do need to be realistic so as not to turn away qualified applicants. 

Beware the Overqualified Candidate

Be wary of taking the short term win of recruiting an overqualified applicant. While it may seem like an easy decision that will work out wonderfully at first, overqualified employees tend to get bored in a shorter amount of time and start to look for their next job. This will lead recruiting teams right back to square one, and arguably at a bigger disadvantage than they were when they started hiring. 

The longer into a recession you get, the harder it will become to find qualified candidates. The smart hiring decision is to find a qualified candidate who still has motivation and room to grow. If you hire correctly, you will have a new crop of qualified employees who will stay with the company throughout the recession, and develop into huge assets.

Streamline the Recruiting Process

It’s an unfortunate truth that during a recession, recruiting teams will have fewer team members to work with than they’re typically used to. While job applications don’t necessarily rise during a recession (due to an increase in unemployment benefits), this reduction in staff can still cause massive slowdowns when filling hundreds or thousands of new roles. To combat this, a company’s recruiting process needs to be working at maximum efficiency, sourcing and qualifying candidates as quickly as possible to reduce vacancy.

The easiest way for a recruiting team to deal with staffing issues is to look to using automation wherever feasible. It’s important to find an affordable HR Tech solution that can automate simple tasks, freeing up recruiters’ time to help streamline marketing efforts, making candidate sourcing easier. Candidate experience should also be a priority, and some platforms can give candidates a meaningful experience by recommending additional roles, resume assistance, and networking tools.

Make Prospective Employees Feel Welcome

Tying into the earlier point on candidate experience, employees want to feel reassured heading into a new job during such uncertain times. They want to know that their new employer cares about them, even though they haven’t had much time to prove themselves. 

Recruiting teams must begin this during the hiring process, engaging with the candidates, and making them feel welcome. It’s essential to answer their questions promptly and make sure the company’s culture, mission, and vision are clear. Helping to reduce candidate fall-off will in the long run create harder-working, happier employees. It will also keep efficiency high and reduce the risk of quality candidates running off to a competitor. 

Broaden and Re-Evaluate your Search

If you find yourself losing the talent war and not finding suitable candidates, it’s time to adjust your hiring plan. Search for talent pools that may have been overlooked, either within your own organization or outside. Consider looking into specific job boards that were disregarded earlier in the process – it may make sense to start advertising to increase brand awareness. Social media continues to grow as well and can be extremely valuable when it comes to attracting new applicants. Make sure you have a strong presence across social channels to attract candidates of the younger generations.

Beyond changing the sourcing strategy, hiring managers can revisit previous candidates they previously passed on. Some of them may have shown potential for development but didn’t have the exact qualifications to make it through on the first pass. Recruiters can also look at adjacent industries. Are there applicants in a different industry with comparable talents and skillsets? Even if an applicant isn’t fully experienced in a specific role, if they are experienced in a similar one, it means they most likely have the drive and motivation to succeed in a new role.

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