How Recruiters Can Make the Most of a Hiring Slowdown

  • February 6, 2023

The early months of 2022 were a boon for hiring managers. It was the hottest job markets in decades, with month after month of record numbers of job openings and resignations. Now, as we launch into 2023, companies are tightening their belts in a way not seen since the 2008 financial crisis, with one high profile layoff after another.

I’m not worried though. If there’s one thing the more than 20 years in this industry has taught me, it’s that hiring always bounces back. And when it does, it often does so with a vengeance, leaving many companies flat-footed and unprepared.

The solution is for talent acquisition teams to use this downtime strategically. Now, when you’re not recruiting, is the time to level-up your skills and optimize your processes. If you do this well, when hiring inevitably picks back up again, you’ll be in a position to win. Here are seven of the best ways to get ready.

Build and nurture your talent pipeline.


Recruiting top talent is a long game. While it may seem counterintuitive for recruiters to reach out to prospective candidates before a role is open, this is precisely the time for recruiters to build real, genuine relationships without the pressure either side experiences when trying to fill a role or job hunt.

Of course, the conversation will be a little different when you don’t have an open position. Being upfront and honest is the key here. Don’t hide the fact that these conversations are exploratory and be fully transparent about what hiring looks like at your org right now. Then request permission to stay in touch. If the candidate agrees, place them in a long-term nurture campaign that sends regular, personalized touchpoints with information about your organization, company culture, team, and product.

Clean up your tech stack.


One of the best ways to impact your company’s bottom during a hiring freeze is a full audit and evaluation of the tools in your recruiting tech stack: your applicant tracking system, customer relationship management tool, sourcing platforms, email finders, interview schedulers, video interviewing platforms, and referrals platforms. Evaluate and grade each tool on efficiency and adoption, and identify what is worth keeping, abandoning, or substituting.

Double down on diversity.


Improving your diversity hiring efforts is a sensitive and time-consuming process that can be difficult to oversee when you are facing aggressive hiring goals. That’s why a slowdown is the best time to focus on creating better, more objective hiring processes.

Start by looking closely at interviews your team has completed. Are there certain questions that accidentally weed out qualified candidates from non-traditional backgrounds? If that’s the case, can you change them or replace them with something that might be a better indicator for success?

You should also take this time to look deeply at the data across your entire hiring funnel. Are there certain stages where candidates from underrepresented groups are disproportionately dropping out of the funnel? Are there hiring managers who are consistently disqualifying these candidates? Now is the time to identify these problems and address them through things like unconscious bias training, revamping job descriptions to be more inclusive, or inviting an external organization to meet with your team.

Upskill your team.


If your team has a lighter-than-usual workload, consider helping them elevate their skills. Give your team the time and permission to do skills evaluations, and then design a plan to fill gaps through learning and development. This is the perfect time for recruiters to take online courses or pursue certifications through SHRM or LinkedIn Learning. Tech recruiters might look at options like Geekruiter Academy or DevSkiller to refresh their knowledge of tech skills and give them best practices for the roles they’re filling.

Bond with your hiring managers.


The biggest driver of talent acquisition performance is a strong relationship between your recruiters and hiring managers. Organizations that improve hiring manager satisfaction are three times more likely to reduce time-to-hire and two times more likely to improve the quality of hire.

You can nurture those relationships when hiring is slow. Take time to dig into the details of how your managers envision the team’s future and to get feedback about the recruiting team’s past performance in terms of turnaround times and quality of hire. This is also a good time to find out what roles will be prioritized when hiring ramps up again so that you have the resources available when those openings happen.

Check in with recent hires.


As tempting as it may be for recruiters to move on once new hires have on-boarded, this is a crucial time to stay in touch, given that 86% of new hires decide whether they’ll stay at a company within the first six months. Use the downtime to have recruiters reach out to the new hires they’ve made in the last six to 12 months to find out how their day-to-day is going, what projects they’re working on, and what has surprised them about their role and the company. Not only will the answers recruiters receive to these questions improve their interactions with future candidates, but it will bolster retention amongst new hires who know that someone cares about their happiness and career trajectory.

Strengthen your talent brand.


Take stock of what resources you have and what you need to create a compelling narrative for your company, whether that’s blog posts, videos, podcasts or something else. You should also look at conversions on your careers page. How can you optimize it for a better experience? Do you need additional imagery? An FAQ? Employee testimonials? You should also consider rolling out an ambassador program if you don’t already have one. Messaging shared by employees garners 561% more impressions than those shared by the company, which is why it’s well worth investing in workflows and tooling that notifies employees of new content, training sessions that offer best practices for sharing on social media, and guidelines to ensure brand voice and tone remain consistent.

. . .


While slowdowns can be difficult, they can also be a moment to demonstrate the full value and relevance of your recruiting team. Taking advantage of this time, and taking the actions recommended above can make the difference between being on the starting block when hiring picks up again, or being in the waiting room. You can and should be identifying as many opportunities as possible to keep your team engaged and adding value to the business, and to ensure that your team can rebound the moment the market does.


To view the original article from Harvard Business Review, click here.