New Year, New Challenges: 5 Recruiting Strategies that Work in a Recession

It’s a new year—and you have new goals to achieve, including talent acquisition. At the same time, you’re dealing with some unique challenges, starting with an uncertain economy. While it’s unclear if we’re truly in a recession, it sure feels like one. No wonder so many companies are cutting costs right now!

Yet, despite it all, unemployment just reached its lowest point in more than 50 years. If you’re hiring—and who isn’t?—you’re doing so in a complex, competitive, unpredictable environment.

So, how can employers balance it all? How do you limit spending, while still recruiting top talent? Well, here’s five inexpensive-but-effective recruiting strategies for this kinda-sorta recession we find ourselves in—one with a crazy-hot labor market.


1. Engage in Passive Recruiting     

Passive candidates are those who aren’t actively looking for a job; instead, you’re looking for them. Passive recruiting costs you nothing—no ad buys, no deluge of applications to wade through. Just a little of your people’s time.

For example, HR experts at the Harvard Business Review recommend asking members of your leadership team to each create a shortlist of contacts who’d make great staff additions, then reach out to test the waters.

And if you haven’t already, now’s a great time to ramp up your employee referral program. Studies show that new hires who are referrals tend to become outstanding long-term employees.

Right at this moment, your best candidate may be poised to launch a job search, but hasn’t yet taken the plunge. You have an opportunity to bring them on board while they’re most “gettable,” using the power of your people’s connections.


2. Make Great First Impressions

You know what it feels like on your end of the recruiting process, but do you know what it feels like on the receiving side? If not, find out—and make adjustments if needed.

For example, do applicants receive warm, prompt responses? Do you tell them where they stand or leave them hanging? When you bring long-distance candidates in for interviews, do you go all out to wow them for the length of their visit…not to mention reimburse them promptly for their travel costs?

Every detail matters here, and optimizing your candidate experience will increase your conversion rates. Any small investment you make to achieve this will more than pay for itself via lower recruiting costs.


3. Personalize Your Job Offers    

If the Great Resignation taught us anything, it’s that many professionals have reset their priorities. More PTO, better work/life balance, new career paths—people are changing jobs for all kinds of reasons. If your company can be flexible enough to give them what they want, you may be the one to draw them into your ranks.

But in order to do this successfully, your talent acquisition pros must not only be expert listeners but masters at creating customized job offers—offers that fulfill each candidate’s wish list, while getting approval from the powers that be.

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4. Be Ready to Move Fast

In a hot job market, speed matters. If your current hiring timeline is cumbersome—if, say, obtaining final approvals is like herding cats—you’re undoubtedly losing prime prospects along the way. Or perhaps it just takes too long to get new people up and running.

Either way, think about accelerating your process end-to-end. Maybe your managers need to streamline hiring decisions. Maybe it’s time to update your onboarding system. Or perhaps it takes forever to bring long-distance hires in-house.

Whatever the problem, it’s fixable. Figure out what it will take to make job offers quickly…push for speedy start dates…fast-track onboarding—and, when relocation is involved, ensure that new hires get off on a swift, smooth start.  

5. Recruit from Within

You undoubtedly hire internally from time to time—a smart move on so many levels. If you haven’t already, make it your policy to always try to promote from within first.

For one thing, it boosts morale and retention. For another, existing employees will get up to speed faster, because they already know your ways. And you both know what you’re getting—no unpleasant surprises there.

Beyond current openings, you can optimize tomorrow’s workforce by investing in your people today. Make sure you have an exceptional training program—and that employees have access to it. Give workers opportunities to take on new projects and work with other teams.

Chances are, your next wave of superstars is already in the house. Set them up to succeed and grow—and by the time the kinda-sorta recession rolls around, you’ll be ready to meet the moment. And so will your team.


Human Resources Today