What You Need to Know About Hiring During a Recession

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It’s Still a Candidate’s Market: What You Need to Know About Hiring During a Recession

There’s no question that the job market is a strange place right now. Despite recent large-scale layoffs from major tech companies and indications of an incoming recession, it’s still very much a candidate’s market in most industries.

The push-and-pull between the potential impact of a recession and the immediate need to fill open positions puts recruiters in a tough position. In many cases, it’s not enough to hire someone with the skills for the job at hand — you need to find the candidate that’s most likely to become a long-term asset for your business as a whole. The best candidate is someone who understands and can facilitate your company’s mission, vision, and values in everything they do. This requires recruiting someone who not only fits a specific role well, but also your company’s culture.

This cultural match is important for a number of reasons. For one, employees who have a sense of belonging at their job are more likely to stay longer at that job. This is a major benefit, especially considering that employee turnover rates are still higher than they were pre-pandemic. Additionally, the better a person fits into a company’s culture, the better their performance. Employees who are happy with their jobs work harder. They’re also better suited to understand the needs of your business and step up to achieve its vision.

However, in today’s job market, you must do more than recognize the need for long-term talent. You need to know what it takes to attract these kinds of candidates and convince them to work for you. In addition, you need to navigate the unique challenges that accompany recessions.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what hiring during a recession should look like. This post will cover what you should consider when hiring right now, how to attract talent even when business isn’t booming, and what, exactly, your hiring pitch and offer package needs to look like in order to get top candidates on board.

What to Consider When Hiring During a Recession

Let’s begin by stating something you likely already know: Hiring has always been hard, even when the economy is thriving and employers have the luxury of picking and choosing from a variety of candidates. Figuring out which candidate will turn out to be the best long-term asset for the business can feel like predicting the future with no crystal ball in sight. The same holds true during a recession.

However, there are two main differences in today’s environment. The first one is that hiring managers can no longer afford to spend a lot of time comparing candidates. If you delay a decision, you risk losing top candidates to other companies. The other is that the cost of making a mistake is higher. In an employers’ market, if a particular employee doesn’t work out, you can quickly and easily replace that employee. In the midst of a recession and candidate’s market, replacing employees is a tougher task.

These differences illustrate why it’s critical to organize your priorities before beginning the recruitment process. With this in mind, here are four things that should be top of mind when hiring during a recession:

  1. What are your long-term goals?While many experts expect the coming recession to be relatively mild, the question of how long recovery will take is still up in the air. You may not necessarily be in a position to hire more people during the recession, so the candidates you hire now will be the employees you rely on to keep you moving toward your long-term goals. Make sure, then, that you’re balancing short- and long-term requirements when considering candidates.
  1. Which positions are most important?Your hiring resources are finite. There is only so much time and energy that can be spent on recruiting, so make sure your efforts are focused on main priorities. Consider which open positions are most critical to maintaining or improving your company’s revenue and which gaps could be offset by existing employees. The more vital the position, the more important it is for you to fill it quickly and correctly before a recession makes it harder to find top talent.
  1. What skills do you actually need to hire for?Do you really need to hire someone new for a particular position, or can you find what you’re looking for in-house? Not only are upskilling or reskilling more cost-effective alternatives to hiring, they’re also excellent ways to remain competitive. Take another look at what roles you’re hiring for and consider whether or not you really need someone new. In many cases, you may already have what you need.
  1. Are you correcting for potential bias?Not only is bias ethically wrong, but it’s also bad for business. Multiple studies have shown that the more diverse a workplace is, the better it performs. In the current climate, bias can prevent you from hiring the candidate your company needs. For instance, we’ve talked about how important is for a candidate to fit into your company culture, but if you’re basing your assessment on gut feelings rather than clearly defined attributes, then it’ll be more harmful to your company than helpful.

These are a few of the most important things to consider when hiring during a recession. But while adjusting your approach based on this can help you find the right people, it won’t ensure that they apply. The next thing you need to figure out, then, is how to attract top talent while dealing with the impact of a recession on your business.

How to Attract the Right Talent When Dealing With the Impact of a Recession

Hiring doesn’t have to stop just because you’re struggling during an economic downturn. It’s still possible to attract highly qualified talent even when revenue is tight. An excellent job match isn’t always about money — it’s about making sure that employees feel valued and important every day.

But how do you advertise these qualities to prospective employees? The first step is to ensure that your company’s reputation is in good shape. As easy as it might be to dismiss them, negative comments posted on job review sites can severely damage your reputation. According to a Glassdoor survey, 86% of respondents said they were likely to look at company reviews before deciding where to apply.

If you find that your public reputation is less than stellar, solicit feedback from current employees. Figure out where you can improve and where your strengths lie. Encourage satisfied employees to leave their own reviews on these websites as well in order to provide a more accurate picture of your company’s culture.

Another way to advertise what your business has to offer in place of higher wages is within the job listing itself. A job posting should be informative, but it can also be a marketing tool. Don’t just list what skills are needed for the position and ask them to send in a résumé. Give candidates an idea of what to expect from their job and from the company they’ll work for. While you don’t need to go into detail about your corporate vision or what a day on the job will look like, providing some sense of what working for your company would entail can go a long way toward convincing someone to apply.

While income and benefits are important to candidates, they’re not the only factors they’ll consider when applying. Flexibility, a better work-life balance, greater stability, and the ability to maximize talents are all top qualities candidates look for in a job. By focusing on everything you have to offer, not just wages, you can attract the right people to your company in the midst of a recession.

Selling the Right Candidate on Your Company

Once you’ve grabbed the right candidate’s attention, you need to close the deal. To do this, you must offer a package that’s attractive for them and realistic for you.

In the same way that enticing candidates to apply for a job is about more than just money, convincing someone to accept a job offer involves highlighting the qualities that make your company worth working for. There are many perks outside of income and benefits that candidates get excited about, and these can all become a part of your recruitment package.

Before you decide what those are, however, it’s important to realize that the best selling points for your company will vary depending on the candidate. This is why it’s so important to listen to your potential hires throughout the interview process and pay attention to what they’re most passionate about, what they expect from the job, and what they would most like to see. From there, you can create a package that impresses potential talent.

Flexibility, for example, is an increasingly important selling point for job seekers. When creating an offer package, think about what traditional expectations you can forfeit. You could offer a flexible work schedule or an option to work both remotely and in-office as needed. You could also be more flexible with paid time off, providing flex days in addition to traditional sick and vacation days (or even removing the traditional limit on PTO altogether).

Another factor that has become more important to candidates is sense of purpose. A 2021 survey from Gartner revealed that 65% of employees are rethinking the role work plays in their lives due to the pandemic, and 56% say they want to increase their contribution to society. People don’t want their work to just be a job — they want it to have a purpose.

In that same vein, you should also make it clear how open you are to employee input and the various ways your company fosters teamwork and appreciation. These points can be part of your offer package. Birthday celebrations, hand-written notes, and other non-monetary incentives can influence a candidate’s decision to choose your company.

What to Do Moving Forward

It’s still a candidate’s market, but as a recession looms, it’s time to take another look at your approach to hiring. Reconsider what you should be looking for in a candidate and whether you can hire from within your company. Then, determine what it is your company has to offer outside of wages and traditional benefits. Even without a recession, advertising what makes your company special can only help your chances of attracting and retaining the right candidates for your company.

If you’re looking more ways to amplify your recruiting or expand your hiring efforts, contact us. We can take your hiring to the next level regardless of how the economy looks.