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Five Tips For Successful Recruiting During A Downturn

No matter the circumstances, history has shown that we enter an economic recession roughly every 10 to 12 years, often with no advance warning.

That said, people still need jobs, and businesses still need workers. Hiring talented and committed employees will be even more important in the coming months, and many companies will continue to focus on recruiting top talent as the pandemic’s financial fallout becomes clearer. However, recruiters need to adapt their strategies in order to remain relevant during an economic recession.

Here are a few key considerations for recruiting in uncertain times:

1. Listen closely to what your candidates want.

Most recruiters stress the value of listening to potential hires, but there’s no more important time to leverage those listening skills than during a recession. Candidates will be changing jobs for a whole host of reasons: They may want greater stability in job function or compensation. They may have been laid off from another job, or they may have realized they needed to make a change to achieve their goals. No matter what, recruiters must engage in active listening to better understand why a candidate is moving to a new role. Quality candidates generally have multiple offers and will work with the firm that best aligns with their personal reasons for changing jobs.

2. Focus on quality wins.

While all companies profess to hire quality candidates, demand for the best talent increases during a recession. Economic downturns cause companies to focus on high-quality candidates who can fill multiple needs, rather than dividing those roles across multiple hires. As a result, competition drives up the price of high-impact workers. In financial services, for example, an advisor with a higher-fee-based business will have larger offers than a candidate with a preponderance of brokerage business, as the fee-based business will be more beneficial to the firm over time.

Despite the increased competition, focus on quality over quantity. You may have to create a larger compensation package for the right fit, but that’s less expensive than hiring multiple employees who may not meet your needs as closely.

3. Don’t drag your feet.

We often believe that recessions create talent markets favorable to employers, but once you know who you want to hire, don’t drag your feet with the offer or start date. Quickly make an offer in writing, and express your urgency to hire. As with the above point, this is not the time to cajole quality talent into accepting less. If you wait too long, you may end up losing your top prospect to another firm that acted quickly.

4. Make prospective employees feel welcome.

Now more than ever, candidates care about companies’ first impressions; they want to know that their new employers will take care of them in uncertain times. In every conversation, digital follow-up or social media engagement, work to make your target candidate feel special. Respond promptly to any questions they ask, and engage with them online to ask if there’s anything they need to make an informed decision. Furthermore, clearly communicate the value you offer to employees, and ensure that candidates understand your mission and vision.

5. Work with professionals.

If you’re working with an outside recruiting firm, always engage with someone who has experience in leading through a recession. You don’t want to be the guinea pig for someone who’s never worked in these economic conditions. Veteran recruiters understand that success during economic turbulence requires a different skill set; they know what needs to be built, how to communicate and how to follow up. A novice recruiter may not have the same level of skill.

While recruiting in a recession is challenging, your actions now can pay off as long-term success for you and your firm. By focusing on the candidate experience and prioritizing quality over quantity, your recruiting strategy can weather the pandemic and its associated economic effects.

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