How Recruiters Can Be Successful During an Economic Downturn

Weathering the storm of a recession can be particularly challenging for talent acquisition professionals.

“A recession typically means fewer jobs which translates to less demand and less work for recruiters,” according to Jake Morrow, Senior Technical Recruiter at Toyota Connected North America. “There are a few ways to succeed in a recession, but a lot of it starts well before a recession comes,” continues Morrow.

Recruiting Success Methods to Combat a Recession

1. Fortify Your Relationships

The value of being a good relationship builder is bandied about frequently in articles on leadership, networking and career-building, and for good reason. Well-forged, sustainable relationships backed up by the value you’ve provided keeps you front-of-mind, especially during tough times.

“Good candidates can find a job without a recruiter. A recruiter’s job is to help them get the right job and coach them through the process. With less work during a recession, the relationships you build with hiring managers/clients and candidates will pay off. You want to be the no-hesitation, go-to person. The only way to do that is create lasting relationships,” says Morrow.

RELATED: Candidate Engagement at Every Stage

2. Augment Your Skills 

It may seem obvious that you always should be learning and growing; however, it can be easy to ride along on the coattails of a robust economy, while personal growth languishes.  Morrow articulates the value of an increasingly honed skill set during a recession.

“For internal or corporate recruiters, diversifying your skill set is big. The more you can learn, the more value you provide to your organization. This may be HR, career advising, hiring strategy, learning the skill sets of your target candidate, etc. Pick up skills that make you valuable to your organization.”

3. Leverage Data

With technology underpinning virtually everything we do today, it is no wonder that the rich repository of data collected by technology also buttresses recruiting.

Data Analytics are critical in recruiting today. In order to engage the right candidates, you need the right approach,” asserts Morrow. “To find the right approach, you might try different things. Keeping track of what works will allow you to stay on a successful path. This could include your candidate experience, the way you reach out to candidates, the process you take them through, what motivated someone with that particular skill set, how you post on social media and job sites, what attracts candidates to your postings and so forth.”

Moreover, Dr. John Sullivan, HR thought-leader from Silicon Valley in ERE.net, underscores the value of data-driven decision-making to help articulate a performance advantage of your new hires. He explains how you can fortify job security by “becoming an expert in quantifying in dollars the impacts of great recruiting, and evaluating new recruiting technologies.”

4. Diversify Your Clients

External recruiters can take actionable steps now to expand and diversify your client base versus “over-investment in too few clients,” according to Mike Starich, CEO of Orion Talent, in Recruiting Daily. This will help in the event the recession pressure closes the door on one or more of your client relationships.

Starich further suggests there’s security in partnering with industries least impacted by a recession; e.g., discount retail, pharma and healthcare services.

5. Refine Candidate Screening Processes

Optimize your ATS to more efficiently screen candidates. As well, fine-tuning job descriptions to attract right-fit candidates out of the gate will help contend with the higher-volume of applicants during a recession.

RELATED: 20+ Job Description Templates to Help You Hire for Hard-to-Fill Roles

Recruiting Opportunities Spurred by a Recession

While recruiters face some obviously difficult struggles amid economic downturns, they also are presented with several opportunities that should be capitalized on during this unique period of disruption.

1. Position Your Company Competitively

While some companies may initially default to reducing their internal or external recruitment costs during a recession, slashing this investment may actually be to their competitive disadvantage.

According to Certified Personnel Consultant and President of Goldbeck Recruiting, Inc., Henry Goldbeck in Recruiter.com, “a possible recession can also present an opportunity for recruiters. Recruiting may be even more important in a dire economy where companies need any and every competitive edge they can get to weather the storm and best position themselves for success after it.”

2. Prioritize Quality & Candidate Experience

According to Glassdoor’s Informed Candidate Survey, “3 in 4 hiring decision makers say attracting quality candidates is the number one challenge.”

During a recession, “a reduced hiring volume will allow your recruiters to focus on quality,” says Sullivan, who explains that (initially at least), the “lower volume of requisitions will allow your recruiters to spend more time on top candidates and improve their candidate experience.”

3. Close Candidates More Swiftly

“Candidate assessment and closing are much easier when applicants are unemployed,” says Sullivan, who points out that more people are focused on the security of reemployment rather than compensation or perks.

RELATED: 4 Things You Need to Do to Close Candidates

4. Provide Unique Coaching for Transitioning Employees

Whether or not a candidate is particularly skilled or sought-after in their field, navigating change can be daunting. This is especially the case during a recession, when even the most sought-after candidates may find their popularity waning.

Recruiters are deeply entrenched and equipped to campaign for candidates during these times of upheaval. “They are advocates who take the time to understand your skills, pitch them to companies and land you interviews so that you can share your capabilities and accomplishments,” according to Lawren Henderson, staff writer for Cluster, in “How a Recruiter Can Help Engineers Survive a Recession.”

Learn More: 

Beat the Next Bust: 5 Strategies to Recession-Proof Your Hiring