Hiring in Uncertain Times: Five Ways to Make Great Hires in a Tough Economy

Recent events have created unprecedented market uncertainty and conditions, and while hiring may be the farthest thing from your mind, it probably shouldn’t be. Recruiting in down markets is advantageous for several reasons: top talent is readily available and large companies have identified their best and brightest by retaining them. Your dollars stretch further, especially when paired with creative benefits and incentives, and you can take more time with candidates to ensure quality hires that reduce turnover and recruitment costs. Now may not be the time to jump into the pool, but proactive talent management means consistently testing the water.

Here are five ways to stay close to the candidate market, reinforce your talent strategy, and be prepared to move with the changing economy.

1. Plan and Market
Keep your brand visible and relevant. Big companies are known for sweeping layoffs in economic downturns. This is a great time for small to mid-sized businesses to stay top of mind and pick up great talent. Develop a multifaceted hiring strategy to reap long-term gains. When filling talent gaps, often hiring for potential and developing an employee pays far greater dividends than hiring a “plug and play” candidate who will leave as soon as the market picks back up. Downturns also present opportunities for top grading.

2. Rethink Benefits
Yes, you can attract top talent on a budget if you offer a mix of monetary and non-traditional incentives like flex time, working from home, paid leave, and sign-on (up front) and retention (time activated) bonuses. If we’ve learned anything in recent weeks, it’s just how effective people can be when working from home offices. People who succeed in working remotely are self-directed, and have high initiative, strong organization, communication, and collaborative skills, and a dedicated work ethic. These are precisely the candidates you want to target.

3. Be Flexible
Think outside of the box and approach staffing needs from multiple directions. Consider hiring temporary employees or consultants. Temporary arrangements let both parties “try before they buy” and you can bring the best temp talent on permanently if you choose. Contractors often bring a wealth of experience and tools to make an immediate impact without a long-term commitment.

4. Be Selective
Partner with search firms who offer creative services and savings opportunities. Utilize recruiters to target passive candidates who are still employed at companies that have recently downsized. Often these employees are retained because they are the top performers, but that doesn’t mean they feel safe, like the new org structure, or appreciate the increased workload. We specialize in targeted recruiting and confidential replacement searches.

5. Be Ready
Position yourself to move forward with key hiring decisions and capture opportunities as soon as the market begins to recover. Be transparent about your timeline, market position and goals, successes and challenges, and long-term opportunity for candidates. Increased bench strength will leave you better equipped to meet the challenges of ramping up again in a growing economy while your competitors are struggling to find talent.

We are ready to respond to your business’ critical hiring needs in any market and to help you minimize cost and risk for your strategic staffing initiatives with a variety of services to support future business growth.