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5 Ways Talent Acquisition Can Come Out Ahead During a Recession

A recession is not an easy time for talent acquisition departments. If your company has decided to cut back or freeze hiring, how do you spend your time in a fruitful way so that your company is prepared when hiring picks back up again – which it surely will?

Proactively addressing gaps in your TA function during slow hiring periods gives you the opportunity to come out ahead of your competitors when the number of open roles increases again. It’s also an opportunity for you and your team to develop new skills as your activities shift. You could even develop a career win to put on your list of achievements.

In this post, we’ll share how a hiring slowdown is a great time to refine and optimize your TA practices, build your talent pipeline, refresh your employer brand, and revisit your recruiting tech stack.

1. Optimize Your Hiring Processes

When hiring at full speed, there’s little time to dive into the data and see what’s working well and what’s not. Hiring managers may be so busy that they don’t want to think about how to change what they’re doing. It’s a gift to have the mental space to sit back and diagnose roadblocks in how candidates move through the hiring funnel – from talent attraction to onboarding.  Questions you can ask include:

  • Are diverse candidates making it through the pipeline? 
  • Where are candidates dropping out? 
  • Are some areas of the business performing better than others on your KPIs? What can underperforming areas of the business learn from them?
  • Is our onboarding process delivering on the promise we set up in the interviews?
  • Are our hiring criteria effective for identifying candidates who will become engaged employees?

As you look at key areas of your process, consider how you’d like things to look different once hiring ramps back up and work backward from there. The slowdown will give you time to build relationships and take meaningful action that facilitates change at a reasonable pace.

2. Improve Reporting

You may have less activity to report, but a slowdown is a good time to revisit your reporting strategy. How well are the current reports working? Are they truly helping your team make decisions, or are they just activity reports? What are the gaps? If you feel the need, you could improve your talent acquisition data literacy by getting training or consulting from an expert. 

The work you do to improve reporting should inform your efforts to optimize your hiring processes, as noted above. You can analyze data to see what worked and didn’t work in the past. Start with certain role types or business units that you anticipate will ramp up again when the economy stabilizes. 

A slowdown is also a good time to further integrate your talent acquisition data with HR data. Are all those hires you made in the last few years turning into happy employees? Are they being supported to grow within the organization? Connect data from different systems to uncover how talent acquisition can partner more effectively with L&D as roles change and individuals’ careers evolve.

3. Build your talent pipeline

If you’ve never used a CRM, now is a good time to start. If the recession results in higher unemployment rates, candidate volume for the open roles you do have could grow. By keeping those people engaged during a recession, you’ll have a database to tap into once hiring picks up again. Their careers will evolve; someone who didn’t look like the right candidate before may turn into one after working at another company. Your roles will also evolve; the perfect role might open up for someone who’s interested in your company but couldn’t find the appropriate fit in the past. A healthy talent pipeline is like insurance for your future hiring initiatives.

4. Revisit your employer brand

When hiring is in full swing, you might not have the time to collect employee stories, build branded communications, or even update your career site. In a recession, your recruiting team can shift gears. See who has the best skills to tell employee stories; they can conduct interviews and turn them into video or written content. Perhaps you can partner more closely with the marketing team on content and branded graphics.

For a full brand refresh and an optimized career site, you could deploy SmartRecruiters Attrax. Like building a talent pipeline, refreshing your employer brand sets your company up for post-recession hiring. When everyone else is fighting to hire, you could be effortlessly attracting candidates with an SEO-optimized career site and compelling branded content about what it’s like to work at your company.

5. Revisit your recruiting tech stack

In your quest to optimize processes, you might find gaps that technology can easily solve. Automating processes like candidate screening and interview scheduling can improve the candidate experience while increasing efficiency. 

If you decide you need a new applicant tracking system to fill gaps that your current system cannot address, the hiring slowdown will give you the time to evaluate vendors and set up the implementation properly. It’s harder to do a cutover to a new system when hiring is in full swing. Additionally, lower hiring volume gives people more time to learn the new processes, facilitating system adoption.

A slowdown is a good time to conduct an audit of your complete recruiting tech stack. Are you getting what you wanted out of each of your add-on systems? Are they being used in the way you intended? Is the data connected between them? Find out what’s working, what’s not, and decide what you want to eliminate or invest in further.

It’s also an excellent time to experiment with new add-on systems. Always wanted to try a chatbot? Now is the time to run pilot initiatives. It will be easier to work out the kinks when you’re not under high pressure to get it right.

Focus on positive change

The past few years have taught us that many good things come from change. Things can’t be going full speed ahead 100% of the time. Allyn Bailey, SmartRecruiters’ Executive Director of Hiring Success Services, put it this way,  

Companies that take the opportunity to shore up their systems and transform their processes will prepare themselves for the new future that is going to emerge at the end of the darkness.

Alllyn Bailey, Executive Director of Hiring Success Services, SmartRecruiters

If that darkness includes sub-par recruiting systems that make hiring harder than it needs to be, give us a call.

For a deep dive into how you can lead more strategically in any business secnario, download our ebook, A Seat at the Table: A Guide to Leading a Strategic Talent Acquisition Function.

Business Value Talent Acquisition Platform

Lee Ann Prescott

Content marketing lead for SmartRecruiters