How the best workplaces adapt, recruit & hire during recessions & economic downturns

A recession is inbound.

Financial Times. Washington Post. Forbes. NPR. And Wall Street.

Near-unanimous agreement the United States is entering an economic downturn. Not quite the scale of the Great Recession, but time will tell.

The best time to adapt your recruiting strategy and hiring process for the changing market is yesterday. The second best time? Today.

So, what are the best workplaces in America doing to prepare?

How the best workplaces adapt, recruit and hire during recession and economic downturn

What a possible economic recession means for your recruiting strategy

Let’s take a look back at the Great Recession of 2008 for some clues. Advance Partners collected the following data on the economy at the time:

  • 5% drop in national GDP
  • 9 million jobs evaporated
  • Countless hiring freezes
  • 15 million unemployed, discouraged job seekers 

To be clear, most economists and experts don’t think today’s economic downturn will be as catastrophic. It may merely be a correction to “normalcy” after two years of torrid growth.

While Field of Talent is no economist, we do have experience navigating challenging economic situations and changing job markets. And we’ve learned how the top workplaces have adapted and emerged winners. 

We’re here to prepare your recruiting strategy and hiring process for what’s to come. Pay specific attention to the following trends during an economic slowdown.

Jobs take more time to fill

If you are growing and have open positions on your team, expect they’ll take a bit more time to fill. During an economic downturn, there are more active job seekers vying for fewer job openings. Therefore, recruitment teams have to sift through more applications. While the average position takes 36-42 days to fill, the length of recruitment processes only increases during a recession.

With fewer open positions available in the market, prepare your hiring managers and recruitment teams to be aggressive to get the talent you want and need to continue growing your organization.

Also, coach your hiring managers to compare each candidate’s previous experience and accomplishments to the position’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Previous performance is the best indicator of future success. 

Advise hiring managers not to wait on a candidate who matches your requirements. You risk alienating or losing the best available talent to a competitor. Likewise, don’t hold out for the “perfect candidate.” They don’t exist – even if you experience a brief talent surplus for your open roles.  

Passive candidates are less likely to respond

Additionally, passive candidates aren’t as likely to leave their current positions with a guaranteed salary or wage. With looming uncertainty, American workers feel safer in their job than testing the open market.

Recruitment teams typically reliant on passive search must adapt to find more active job seekers.

Top ways to position your company competitively during an economic downturn

So, what can you do to emerge from the potential recession as a talent acquisition winner?

Recession-proof recruitment tactics

Prepare your recruitment strategy

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Thinking about tightening your recruiting budget? Look at your line items and more specifically, your must-haves and nice-to-haves to find potential cuts. Costs like recruiting marketing, job board memberships and technology are often the first to go. 

Recruiting during an economic recession, you must be nimble and lean. Set expectations with your hiring managers and talent acquisition teams. Your hiring process may look a bit different than the past two years.

Hire candidates more quickly

As mentioned, your hiring process should improve in speed if you want top draft picks. During an economic downturn, the fastest companies often scoop the labor market’s best talent. Cutting even a few days from your process makes a huge difference in attracting and hiring the best available candidates.

Looking to reduce inefficiencies or unnecessary steps in your hiring process? Look no further.

Prioritize candidate experience & quality

How do you make sure you get the best talent possible during a recession? After all, the best talent disappears quickly. Speed and candidate experience are two important factors. Communicate clearly, concisely and consistently to guarantee they understand your position, culture and hiring process. 

Although job candidates have had leverage in the labor market the last two years, talent acquisition will differ during an economic slowdown. Your recruitment team is in the driver’s seat and can prioritize high quality candidates. However – this is critical – don’t get complacent. The market can shift quickly and you can get caught flat-footed, not prepared for the upswing when candidates have the upper hand. And for certain positions and industries like cyber-security professionals or software developers, talent will forever be scarce. There just aren’t enough entrants to these industries to keep up with demand and that likely will not change. 

Bottom line: A good candidate experience is important no matter how tight or lose the labor market is. If your company doesn’t have a way to engage active applicants, build future pipelines of potential candidates and curate those candidates so you can access them at the right time, you’ll miss out.

Focus on active job seekers

Because most passive talent is comfortable in their current positions and not willing to risk the open job market, your recruitment strategy should focus on active job seekers. If organizations unfortunately have to let go workers, you need to act quickly to get the best talent available. Pay attention to who is laying off in your industry, set a Google Alert, watch for WARN notices, etc. 

Passive candidate sourcing for critical skills, future leadership, and game-changing talent should never stop. Source for when it will matter most.

An added caveat – for the first time, remote work is a major factor in hiring. 22% of all jobs will be remote by end of 2022. Thus, your benefits package and work culture are crucial in attracting the market’s best talent. Are you willing to accommodate workers who want this new option for flexibility?

Leverage referrals

Another way to adapt your hiring process and get creative – leveraging referrals. No one expects you to go at this alone. From your top customers and your employees to partner organizations and membership networks, your company has plenty of strings to pull and resources to leverage. In fact, if your partners help your organization find its next great hire, they benefit from your stronger team.

Social media is an easy first route to pursue new talent. Simply ask your friends and colleagues to share your posts and extending your reach. Both individually and as an organization, be proactive about expanding your network, especially during an economic downturn.

An added benefit of a referral is speed-to-hire. Because you have mutual interests with the candidate, your relationship is stronger than with the average job seeker. And you can hire top talent more quickly. Win win!

The best, more resilient workplaces adapt during recessions. Follow these steps below to prepare your hiring process for a possible recession:

  • Prepare
  • Prioritize speed
  • Improve candidate experience
  • Focus on active candidates
  • Leverage referrals

Field of Talent is your recruitment partner through thick and thin. We can help position your organization to emerge from the potential economic downturn a winner. Need help crafting a leaner, faster hiring process? Get your risk-free consultation here.

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How the best workplaces adapt, recruit & hire during recessions & economic downturns