A Guide to Recruiting in a Recession

We’ve all heard the news. Experts believe the world is likely to face its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, with the global economy contracting by 3% this year. The UK’s economy alone is expected to fall by a record-breaking 35% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

As in previous recessions, recruitment will likely take a back foot for most businesses. It’s understandable that companies will have to change their approach to hiring staff and will prioritise their existing people while the future of the economy remains unclear.

However, we will bounce back, and businesses need to be prepared for this eventuality, even if that means recruiting when finances are tight. Here are our tips for hiring during a recession to ensure that your business can be in a strong position to weather the storm and thrive on the other side.  

Resist freezing hiring altogether

For many businesses, the initial instinct, when faced with a financial crisis is to stop hiring altogether. If you aren’t hiring new people, you can save money and focus on taking care of your existing staff both financially and in a caring capacity, right? Wrong!

Freezing hires in a recession can do more harm than good. While it will save money in the short-term, stopping new hires also means putting a stop to business progression. It’s reported that companies that stop hiring completely, are at risk of; loss of income, existing employees facing burnout, reduced quality of service or product and high recruitment costs to replace existing (and overworked) staff.

By freezing hiring across all areas of your business, you negatively impact your rapid growth and stop departments that could thrive in a changing world. You also risk missing out on potentially great talent that could revolutionise your business forever. When the economy recovers, you may find yourselves left behind as you haven’t been able to adapt to change in the same way as competitors who continued to recruit strategically. Which is why recruiting for significant roles is still essential, no matter the financial situation.

Create a robust plan

To be done well, and to save both time and money, recruitment needs to be planned with great research and insight involved. When uncertain times hit, it’s vital to create a plan that can give you some guidance. Think about your business objectives and what your priorities should be, even if a recession does hit. This will help you to outline the roles you need, and which areas of your business could benefit from additional support.

Consider talent mapping your existing employees and identify any who could benefit from training opportunities to help them grow within your company and fill potential skills gaps. Without this plan, you may end up recruiting for non-essential roles, or roles your employees are capable of filling, that could end up costing you more in the long run.

Hire people that will bring the most value

In the same way that aligning your business priorities will help to reduce recruitment costs and save you time, hiring people that can bring the most value to your business is the secret to recruiting in a recession. Don’t merely look at the role and the skills required; consider the more comprehensive picture. What else can an individual bring to the table? It may be that with their skills and experience, you could merge some roles or tasks, reducing the number of new hires needed. It could also help your business to expand into other service areas that will ensure you’re future-proof and add more areas of income. Talent holds a lot of power and having the right individuals for your business is more essential than being able to hire quickly or save money on a lower salary.

Prepare for an influx of applications

In recessions, unemployment rates rise; therefore, if you are recruiting, you can expect a surge in applications. You need to prepare for this. Make sure that your candidate screening process can handle an influx. While job boards have their uses, it may be time to think about a careers page so that you can manage the increasing number of applications yourself. You may need to add in some form of skills test to help you create a shortlist of candidates with no unconscious bias at play. Or, you may need to consider outsourcing your recruitment process altogether to relieve your HR department. Consider your recruitment process and candidate journey; can it handle a surge of applications and is it user-friendly enough for increased numbers of applicants to use it?

Build a talent pool 

Another way to combat the influx of applications is to build a ready-to-hire talent pool. This cuts the need for traditional advertising and will both speed up and reduce the cost of your recruitment process. What more could you want during a recession?

Collecting the details of people that want to work for you means that you can contact them if a role they’d be perfect for becomes available. It saves you sifting through thousands of CVs and means that you can adapt job descriptions to suit individual talents which could reduce your need to recruit multiple people. Having access to a talent pool means you can focus on finding top-quality candidates.

Create a talent pool through recruitment marketing and promoting your employer brand online, encouraging people to register their interest in joining you. Some organisations choose to create video adverts that showcase their company culture while others opt for full careers sites to give an impression of the organisation. You can also include the details of previously unsuccessful candidates as long as you ensure that you comply with GDPR if you’re a UK business.

Show you’re a safe option

During uncertain times, candidates need confidence that their future employer can not only support them now but will be able to stand the test of time. For those that have been made redundant because of the current crisis, knowing they’re unlikely to face the same fate again is critical. In times of financial crisis, job security and financial safety are among the top wishes for jobseekers.

 We’re all aware of the impact coronavirus has had on businesses in most sectors. Candidates know of the devastation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself as a safe option for them.

Use recruitment marketing to spread a message of security, whether it’s through press and PR or even social media. Show people what you’ve done differently to your competitors and celebrate successes, no matter how small. Provide candidates with the confidence that you will be able to weather the storm of financial uncertainty. Ask your existing employees to review you as an employer and post testimonials to show that you care and build your reputation. All of this will contribute to your employer brand and will help future candidates have confidence in you.

Use intelligent advertising to save costs.

Recruitment is constantly evolving. There are new ways to ensure your job adverts reach the right people without having to exhaust huge budgets. Social media, for example, allows you to target audiences based on education, job titles, area and interest. Put simply; this means you can reduce the number of people that see your advert and ensure the ones that do are relevant to the role. Your budget is spent where it matters. Social media is also notorious for low-cost advertising, allowing you to create intelligent recruitment marketing campaigns with smaller budgets than traditional advertising.

You could also create a Google Ads campaign, targeting people searching for specific keywords and roles to build a talent pool and fill critical vacancies at lower costs. As the world is spending more time online due to global lockdowns, using these digital methods of reaching audiences will prove invaluable and help you to reach even passive candidates.

If you have any concerns about recruiting during a recession and need any help with filling roles during uncertain times, our experts are on hand to help. We have specialists in sourcing, employer branding and recruitment marketing who can help deliver the right talent to help your business become more durable, even in uncertain times.