talent acquisition trying times

Talent Acquisition in Trying Times


The hiring landscape has changed entirely over the last several weeks, going from an extended period of low unemployment to unparalleled levels of job loss in response to the global pandemic. While there were some early warning signs, there’s really nothing that could have prepared talent acquisition for the rapid devolution of the economy. And though there is no clear precedent for this particular situation, there are things that talent acquisition professionals can do while the world starts to heal.


Don’t Panic

The word Zen gets thrown around a lot, sometimes without context. The truth is that Zen comes from Buddhism and has to do with achieving enlightenment. That might not sound especially corporate, given that talent acquisition has everything to do with strategic intent and little to do with intuition. But it is feasible for the two to meet in the middle and now is the perfect opportunity for those involved in talent acquisition to strive for Zen. Things are moving quickly, and no one knows what’s going to happen next. Stay calm by staying attentive instead of merely internalizing.


Maintain Connection

Before making any sudden moves, take the time to talk to others and find out what they’re seeing. Stand back and try to see the larger picture. How are similar organizations or industries responding? Are there any economic indicators that might offer guidance? Use your network for support in understanding the broader implications. In trying times, it can be tough to see beyond the end of the day, which is why it helps to ask for outside perspectives. Don’t get bogged down by feelings of immediacy.


Start Planning

Once you have a sense of what’s happening, start planning. Adjust any existing forecasts. Model a few scenarios based on the available data. Account for the impact of layoffs, furloughs, lowered budgets, postponed or canceled initiatives and more. Develop a conservative, moderate and aggressive approach to people, process and products. Ask yourself what’s most important? Figure out what you can reduce and how in order to limit the blow to the business. Look at all potential options and get buy-in from key stakeholders. Seek to deliver value to the organization at every turn.


Prioritize People  

In planning, prioritize your people whenever possible. Just last year, Matt Charney wrote, “If we’ve learned one long term lesson from the [Great] Recession, it’s that job recovery was much more complex than economic recovery; even after the markets had rebounded, hiring remained a relative laggard for two to three years.” During the Recession of 2008, so many people were let go that teams all but disappeared, making it nearly impossible to pick up where organizations left off. And if there’s one lesson that’s abundantly clear right now, it’s that people are essential, not only to the economy but also to humanity.


Brace Yourself

While trying to maintain your workforce, this piece from 2008 reminds us that when unemployment rises, so do the number of candidates applying for open positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in July of 2009, there were 6.4 unemployed persons per job opening but talk to recruiters from that era, and they’ll tell you they received countless applicants per posting. Some reporting back then that it was normal to receive more than 100 resumes for a given opening. If and when that starts to happen, have a protocol in place for reviewing and responding to job seekers. Don’t reopen the black hole of the candidate experience.


Optimize Everything

Talent acquisition technology today looks vastly different than it 12 years ago, and the Recession didn’t stem from a global pandemic. Use the slowdown to examine solutions and strategies. Is your ATS up to speed? What steps can you take to reduce redundancies? Are there extra systems that you can eliminate? Be methodical in evaluating each step in your process and the associated technology. Review the output of each as it relates to your overall recruiting metrics. Adjust accordingly.

Even during periods of uncertainty, talent acquisition and talent acquisition technology work together. The most in-demand jobs will change, as evidenced by recent LinkedIn job posting data, sounding the call for positions in healthcare, construction, transportation, education and retail. But fear not, the need for programmers and data scientists will return. In the meantime, keep focused. Reach out to those around you for help. Get some plans in place as things change, knowing you may need to alter as you go. Use technology to your advantage. And remember that people are the heart of what you do and why you do it.


Webinar: Zen and The Art of Talent Aquisition Technology

talent acquisition technology

April 21, 2020 2:00 pm EST

We’ll give actionable advice on all four fronts. You’ll leave the webinar inspired to invest in yourself, your TA team, your TA processes, and your TA technology.

Please join us if you can. Register here!

Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.