Essential Recruitment Principles in an Uncertain Economy

May 4th 2020


Today’s economic news is hard to digest. Life as we know it has changed overnight, and the way we need to work to get ourselves out of this crisis is new for all of us. While some industries are thriving in this down economy, others face a great deal of uncertainty, and it may not always be clear what to do next—leaving most recruitment processes frozen and many candidates in a state of limbo.

From a recruitment perspective, it helps to understand that a major crisis will always push companies to evolve in a way that will drive more productivity and create a new outlook for the division of labor. Therefore, this current slowdown gives recruiters the time to re-prioritize and strategize their essential recruitment needs in terms of how to build and maintain candidate relationships, reassess jobs, and determine the best tone of voice to use in candidate outreach programs.


Recruiting in a Distressed Economy

Currently, we live in a distressed economy in which many companies are unable to generate revenue or operate in their full capacity due to the different government and the stay at home-regulations. The downward effect of this crisis not only impacts the companies’ financial stability but also leaves many businesses unwilling to make decisions or even willing to invest.

Recruiting in a distressed economy has to adjust to this new reality. These current times can feel scary, and not many people will want to change jobs unless they really need to. In a distressed economy, the rules of the game have changed, and the standard recruitment efforts will not work as they did before. As a seasoned recruiter, you need to look at the fundamental recruitment principles that matter now and use those as a basis to help your company to move forward.


Fundamental Recruitment Principles in a Crisis

Let’s be honest: truly effective recruitment is about more than simply placing an ad online and handling the administrative tasks for the candidate pipeline. Recruitment is about understanding human interaction, foreseeing economic and job market advantages, and translating these things into the business context to help the company grow. On a tactical level, it’s about understanding recruitment technology and how to apply it to be more efficient.

In order to stay relevant as a recruitment professional in a distressed economy, you need to take the underlying principles into account to start a constructive narrative with the c-suite and demonstrate your value by mapping out the core principles throughout the recruitment life cycle. It’s essential to take the conversation further than current events and help the company understand how to be resilient in an uncertain time. This includes creating a long-term vision in which, more likely than not, jobs and people are going to be redirected, but in the end, their unique skills and expertise are still needed to drive your company forward.

Understanding and utilizing the following four core principles will give you the ability to (re)structure your recruitment strategy and adapt your recruitment processes to continue to add value to your company even in an uncertain economy.


Principle 1: Businesses need the right people

People and their skills and expertise add value to your company. One can’t survive without the other, and recruitment is here to assist the company in interacting with different people to grow and ensure the future of the organization.

To help your company see the added value of continued recruitment, you need to analyze different recruitment activities, such as time-to-hire cycles. For example, cultivating a pipeline for a typical skilled job takes around 30-45 days, and most interview processes take around 28-42 days. Once a candidate is hired, you will have additional time for notices, which can take up to 30-60 days. Put together; this means a normal hiring process can take 3 to 5 months. For a specialist role or high-level job in this economy, you need to double the time-to-hire.

Waiting for this crisis to be over will give your company a hiring delay of almost 8 months for normal jobs and around 10-14 months for specialist roles. The hard question becomes: Is your company able to do without these crucial skills and expertise for the next year?


Principle 2: Job details need to be reassessed

Strategic recruiters will need to rethink the distribution of labor in the company to allow the organization to do more with less. The recruitment team needs to take a seat at the table and help the decision-makers rethink jobs and how to create new or hybrid positions. Knowing how to use transferable skills and candidate skill sets in the creation of new or hybrid positions will be crucial.


Principle 3: Your company story is still relevant

Now is the time to advise your company on how to move forward without hurting your employer brand, and how to continue using your current talent pipelines more effectively. Be honest and thoughtful, and help the company see that your employer brand wasn’t built in one day and can’t go silent overnight. An EVP is a long-term investment, and what candidates see today can potentially hurt or help your company months from now. When possible, use this time to let candidates know what your organization is doing to help.


Principle 4: Every job opening is an opportunity for a conversation

Last but certainly not least, now more than ever, candidate conversations need nuance and strategy behind them. Candidate messaging might seem like a simple concept, but in an uncertain economy, there’s more to consider. Individuals may need extra motivation and assurance that they’re making the right move by joining your organization.

It also becomes important to think about why you are talking to specific candidates, what it is you want them to do with your job proposal, and what information you can discover through the interaction. Each vacancy provides an opportunity to have conversations and to uncover valuable insights and candidate data—all of which can be used to help create and refine a multi-touch messaging strategy and make sure you hit the right notes when it comes to candidate interactions now and in the future.


How to Start an Adaptive Recruitment Strategy in a Crisis

The point of all of this is, in a crisis, not everything is known. It is a new reality where new rules apply. Much of our next steps will depend on how the economy as a whole operates and how soon businesses are able to work at their full capacity. Because we know that people drive businesses, it is essential to see recruitment from a strategic perspective and to go beyond inefficient processes. Building an advantage for your company requires understanding market dynamics and human interactions in changing times. Keeping focused on the fundamental principles above will help you be more relevant and give you the ability to help decision-makers in making wise and thoughtful choices to move forward.

Written by: Sushila Ramkisoensing

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