Many business owners remember the Great Recession of 2008 and the resulting hiring freeze that contributed to the loss of over 8.7 million jobs in the United States. Recessions happen for various reasons. Generally, the government prints way too much money, inflation happens, the news says that everything is super expensive, so you don’t buy anything, resulting in merchants increasing prices to make things expensive, and everything just spirals out of control. All of a sudden, we find ourselves in a crazy recession, but recruiting during a recession is quite possible. 

Now, even though recessions are manufactured, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect people. Quite the opposite, recessions put people out of jobs, drain people’s bank accounts and make businesses lose profits.

After the recession of 2008, it took the country nearly five years to get back the jobs that were lost. This is why recruiting strategies are important, so you can still have the manpower for your business during a recession.  

When faced with a recession, businesses may feel pressure to put their hiring practices on hold. But talent acquisition experts encourage businesses to carry on with steadfast recruiting of new employees. Here’s a list of important things to remember when recruiting during a recession. 

Have a Plan

An economic recession is not a matter of if but when. 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. Statistically speaking, the United States has been at full employment (with the exception of the COVID pandemic) since 2018. To be done well and 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. Taking a proactive rather than reactive approach will put you one step ahead of your competition.

Do Not Freeze Hiring

For many businesses, the initial instinct, when faced with a financial crisis, is to stop hiring altogether. The logic here is that 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. This idea is actually flawed and will end up working against you. While it will save money in the short term, stopping new hires also means putting a stop to business progression. 

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 revolutionize your business forever.

Prioritize and Hire Freelancers

To make sure that the core of your business doesn’t start crumbling, identify the positions you must fill. Prioritize the ones that impact your revenue the most. Focus your hiring activities on the core of your needs. For the less critical positions, consider giving your current employees more duties with a promised incentive. You can also temporarily use freelancers and independent contractors. 

When it comes to recruiting during a recession, you may have to pivot from hiring one full-time worker to fill a role to hiring multiple freelancers or independent contractors for the same job as a cost-saving measure. Re-evaluate your hiring criteria, adjust the level of necessary qualifications, and redesign your interview questions to make it easier to hire people. In essence, do anything in your power to make sure your business does not run out of employees, and if it does, those people can be quickly replaced by freelancers.  

Listen Closely

Listening to what your candidates are looking for is important, especially when facing a recession. Make sure you find out why your candidates are changing jobs beyond the size of their paycheck. If they have been unemployed for a while, don’t forget to ask why. Candidates will be changing jobs for a whole host of reasons: They may want greater stability in job function or compensation. They may have been laid off from another job, or they may have realized they needed to make a change to achieve their goals. 

This helps you better understand what your candidates want, leaving you with better ways to tailor your recruitment efforts and hire successfully. Quality candidates generally have multiple offers and will work with the firm that best aligns with their personal reasons for changing jobs.

Save Costs Elsewhere 

For many businesses, when a recession hits, one of the first things they do is lay people off and stop new hires to save money. Once again, a business cannot run if there aren’t enough employees. People are key, so rather than slashing your recruitment budget during a recession, find other opportunities to streamline, drive efficiencies and save costs. An all-in-one recruitment system may make it faster and more efficient to sort and vet a flood of resumes, so your HR team doesn’t have to. 

Explore digital solutions that can help drive up efficiencies and drive down costs, cut back on advertising, or any of the dozens of other ways you can save money that doesn’t involve minimizing your pool of employees. 

Russell Ridgeway

Russell Ridgeway is the founder of Neil Dylan. He writes in business, tech, and fashion as well as creative fiction. You can reach him by email ([email protected]), or on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.