Bear Market You Ready Recruiting?

The impending bear market is not an excuse to do the bare minimum when it comes to recruitment marketing

Today, it’s never been a better time to be a working American. The U.S. economy has been booming as of late. In 2018, unemployment hit new lows as stocks soared to never-before-seen highs. This record bull market run has been great for workers, but when it comes to recruiting — there has never been a more challenging time.

Eventually, any economist will tell you that all bull runs must come to an end, and depending on who you ask — 2019 is the year. With recent stock losses stemming from anxiety around global trade, the long-term bull market is clearly in jeopardy heading into 2019.

For those of us who’ve been in the recruiting space for longer than this ten-year run, we’ve experienced how recruitment marketing and hiring are different when economic growth is slow (and there’s a deeper talent pool). Not every run is the same though, so how do recruiters prepare for the next phase of talent acquisition? Let’s look at the trends set to guide recruiting when the bull market inevitably comes to an end in 2019.

Power shifts from candidates to companies

While STEM jobs will continue to remain in high demand (as evidenced by soaring Tech IPOs) for the rest of us, when the economy sours, so goes our ability as job seekers to dictate the terms of the recruiter-candidate relationship. This means recruiters will wield more power in every step of the hiring process from attracting talent and first interactions all the way to onboarding.

You might have heard that recruiters are not in the hiring business, but rather, in the rejection business. During an economic downturn, this is even truer. Instead of having to work your butt off to get candidates, recruiting becomes less about the sourcing and more about screening. With an increased number of candidates per requisition, recruiters must find ways to screen more efficiently to cut through the noise and identify the ideal worker.

Each hire becomes more critical

Employer brand is crucial, no matter what state the economy might be in. While organizations today are more likely to use recruitment marketing tactics that “woo” candidates and get them in the door, that may change in an economic downturn.

When the economy shifts gears and enters a bear market, every hire becomes more important. Economic uncertainty often leads to longer tenures and less job-hopping amongst workers, so you can’t afford to make a bad hire. You need to treat headcount as precious, which makes authentic employer branding all the more necessary. Think about it, when your hiring decreases significantly, you don’t want to paint a picture of your organization that deceives candidates.

The good news? Even during a slowdown, recruitment marketing is still paramount. Tactics like  Instagram, text recruiting, and especially, brand ambassadors will persist in the battle for skilled workers. Just make sure your efforts map back to an authentic portrait of your company culture in order to attract talent that will be actually interested in what it’s really like to work at your company.

Talent, loyalty, or industry knowledge?

Let’s face it, sometimes you can’t have all three. So, what should you focus on? At a high level, it’s a mixture of those industry skills, as well as the soft skills they’ll need to perform well in your company culture (since they’re going to be around longer).

In this fast-moving market right now, many companies are trying to hire folks as quickly as they can. In places such as Silicon Valley, these organizations path their trajectory as a rocket ship, churning through capital (and people) on the path to IPO in the next three to five years. Not every employee wants that though, and that’s where you really need to put in the time to understand who you are as a company. Employer brand needs to parallel your mission statement and map back to the company values because when economic uncertainty is thrown in the mix, the impact of a poor fit becomes amplified.

You need to be assessing candidates on exactly what the business needs, and that starts with being crystal clear on the job description. It’s critical to have a vision for sample (or real) candidates in mind when putting it together. Everything from the job description, to the interview, to the hiring process, should map back to that criteria and mesh with your company culture and attitude. That way, when you get to the onboarding stage, everything you told them aligns with their experience.

While most economists have yet to call it quits on this historic bull run, it will inevitably end at some point. Although it may seem a bit Debbie Downer to go about planning for a potential economic slowdown, it never hurts to be prepared. Especially when your company is betting their own economic well-being on your ability to find their future workforce.

Matt Singer

Matt Singer is Jobvite’s fearless marketing leader. He’s officially been in marketing and sales for the past 15 years, but informally for 30+ years starting with cookie, lemonade, and lawn mowing businesses in his neighborhood at the age of 8. Outside of work, Matt is a proud husband, father, and “manphibian.” He tries to spend as much time as possible in the water abalone diving, fishing, and surfing. A self-proclaimed data geek, Matt has spent his career channeling that data obsession into building great brands and scalable marketing machines. His career in B2B has focused primarily on the world of HR software, but recruiting is his biggest professional passion.