Recruitment in challenging times

It may seem something of a paradox, but challenging times, such as an economic downturn, can be a very good time to recruit talent into your organization.


When there’s a wealth of candidates on the market, many of whom would not ordinarily be available, forward-thinking managers take the opportunity to build their talent pool. But how do you unearth the right talent? How do you position your organization? What support is available? In this article we provide some practical pointers.

Don’t compromise.

Find the right person rather than the available person. Don’t feel compelled to recruit someone if they don’t have the competencies and cultural fit you are looking for, even if they are available immediately. The wrong hire can be very expensive. Add to that the impact on existing colleagues of having the wrong person in post, the potential decrease in productivity, and the damage to your reputation as a hiring manager: it’s a costly business.

On the plus side, recognize that if a person is willing to leave their current job to join you in tough times, they’re a lot more likely to stay with you when times are good — as long as you treat them well.

Look for genuine enthusiasm.

Take care to spot the difference between enthusiasm and someone whose long-held aspirations fit with your organisation. There are plenty of people who need a job and will fight hard to get one, but do they have a genuine desire and passion to work for your organization?

Research suggests one in five candidates is applying for jobs without doing any research into the employer or their own suitability. To ensure you make the right hire, you need to look beyond a great resume and polished interview technique, and find the person who sees you as part of their career path.

In the long run, hiring someone with genuine enthusiasm will hold you in good stead for the future. Someone who has singled out your organization as their next ideal career step is far more likely to have a higher level of engagement, higher productivity levels and will probably stay with you in the long run.

Position well.

It’s no good battening down the hatches and hoping the economic storm will spit the best talent in your direction by chance. You need to position your organization as being a more interesting prospect than others and you need to keep yourself visible and accessible.

Think carefully about where you need to be seen and who you want to be seen by. Get comfortable with what your brand genuinely offers that sets you apart. Clear some budget for maintaining your brand visibility and spend it wisely. But a word of caution: be authentic. Don’t be tempted to oversell your organization and what it offers to new recruits.

Be really proactive.

Be proactive, get in front of the right people and make sure they know what your organization has to offer. Go out and tell people about your business — the vision, what you’re doing to get there, and the kind of people you need to achieve it. Demonstrate that your organization remains in good shape despite external challenges.

Do this well and you will attract the right talent. But make your messages clear and concise – essential if you are to stand out in an already noisy market. If your business is in good shape make sure people know about it.

Look beyond the tried and tested.

When everyone’s fawning over the same candidate pool, don’t just recruit from the tried and tested routes. As professionals reconsider their career options and the number of applications per job rises in times of high unemployment, many more people tend to consider careers in sectors they might previously have glossed over. They potentially bring with them a wealth of new skills, experience and ideas that will benefit your organization both now and in the future.

So get the cultural fit right, but also make the most of the skills and experiences available from other industries.

Work on your employer brand’s profile to attract the top talent from comparable backgrounds.If you can become a magnet for talent, you’ll attract strong performers from other organizations that are either not doing so well, or at least not looking after their employees quite as well.

Build relationships.

Now more than ever, building your external talent pipeline is key to future success. With most organizations still needing to attract top-class talent to fill key roles, it’s essential to get your brand out there.

Have a clear and consistent message of where your organization’s heading and how you intend to meet tomorrow’s opportunities.

If you are not in a position to recruit people immediately you will still need to sit up and take action — build relationships now and when opportunities do arise you will get the best talent quickly. And remember, the people you need may be sitting tight. So, carefully consider how you engage them and what you can offer to really make them want to come and work for you.

Make your agencies work harder.

When more candidates are on the market, it’s easy for your in-house recruitment team to get overloaded sifting through unsuitable applications. So take advantage of your recruitment partners, and get full use out of their services.

By spending time with your recruitment agencies to ensure they fully understand your business and its requirements, the less time you spend on managing the recruitment process. Remember where their expertise lies – don’t inundate yourself with mountains of resumes when a recruitment agency can screen them for you.

Likewise, a trusted recruitment partner that really understands your business will make sure that you only see candidates who are truly up to the job and are genuinely interested in working for your organization. They’ll be adept at promoting the unique merits of your employer brand and dispelling false assumptions. An agency who truly understands your needs will be able to help you identify and deliver the right talent for now and the future.

Look to the future.

It’s reasonably straightforward to plug today’s gaps in your organization, because you know what skills and experience you need immediately. But what of the future?

  • Have you considered what opportunities will exist in your business next year, in three years, in five years’ time?
  • Consider your company’s vision. Where do you want to be and have you already got the skills and latent talent onboard to get you there?

Leadership expert Judith Leary-Joyce sums it up when she says: “Don’t simply focus on developing the round peg for today’s round hole. Understand what your business needs to overcome the downturn, then decide what the future opportunities will be and the kind of talent you’ll need to challenge your rivals. Look at people’s core talent – their innate expertise – and recruit those who can both accomplish the present role and have the potential to enhance your organization — perhaps in a number of different roles — going forward.”

Having the right talent on board is key. The challenge then is to keep your best people in the organization. It’s all about creating and maintaining a culture that they want to be a part of.

We’ll take on your recruitment challenges. Take a minute to contact us now.

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