The importance of effective recruitment during an economic downturn

Posted on June 28 , 2020. 
By Ben McDonald

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With the global economy teetering on the brink of a recession the likes of which we haven’t seen in nearly a century, companies around the world find themselves doing everything they can to set themselves up for a soft landing.

The economic fallout of the pandemic is only beginning, and it could last for years. Business leaders around the world, who are naturally worried about their short- and long-term prospects, are scrambling to save money. Cash collection and cost cutting are the order of the day. In the face of an uncertain future, these measures are both prudent and necessary.

In doing so, however, companies may end up making rash decisions that hurt them in the long run. While this is surely a time to improve efficiency, eliminate redundancy, and shore up the liquidity needed to weather the ongoing storm, it’s usually unwise to engage in cost cutting for its own sake.

Avoiding ill-advised cost cutting is especially important in the realm of recruitment. If you cut ties with your recruitment partners now, you may save a bit of money in the short term, but you’ll likely end up paying dearly for it down the road. On the other hand, making smart recruiting decisions now can help you survive the recession and take full advantage of the eventual recovery.

Finding the way forward

All businesses go through periods of ebb and flow. Generally speaking, hiring practices tend to follow these trends. In times of growth and prosperity, companies hire more staff. When times are tough, they stop hiring or even reduce the number of employees on the payroll.

It would therefore seem reasonable to stop hiring and temporarily suspend relationships with recruiters in the face of this global recession. However, this instinct may lead businesses down the wrong path right now. Yes, budget constraints must be carefully considered. But a blanket hiring freeze won’t address the needs of your customers or your organisation, and might even prevent you from making the bold moves needed to carry your company through the recession.

Diversifying and digitalising your supply chain can allow you to continue production. Improving your online payment or e-commerce infrastructure can greatly increase your revenue stream, particularly while most of your customers may still be reluctant to venture out to your physical location. Stepping up your CSR activities can earn you some well-deserved visibility and credibility while most of your competitors are withdrawing from the public eye. Likewise, a clever marketing campaign can show both existing and potential customers how your products or services can help them through these challenging times.

The above examples are by no means exhaustive. There are countless other proactive measures that you can take to help your business get through the recession and prosper in its aftermath. Whatever course of action you decide on, you’ll probably need to hire some key people to make it happen.

The current moment is actually the perfect time to find the best talent. Many other companies will be making redundancies and reducing their workforces. Moreover, some of the best and brightest recent graduates will also be looking for work. The combination of these two factors means that there is a surplus of high-quality talent in the current job market. By taking the right steps, you can make the best of an unfortunate situation and shore up your workforce for years to come.

Proceeding with caution

Even with more top-quality people looking for jobs right now, the fact remains that these are precarious times for businesses. You’ll need to work carefully with your recruitment partner to ensure your hiring decisions have the positive impacts you’re seeking.

To make sure your efforts go as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible, you should discuss the following points with your recruitment partner:

  • Alternate payment terms – Before formulating a plan of action, you should first take a close look at your existing agreement. Will they be able to hold up their end of the bargain? If they’re struggling right now, you may need to find a different recruiter. If, on the other, they’re currently in a strong position, they may be willing to renegotiate the terms of your contract. You’re their valued client after all; it won’t help them if you become financially unable to fulfil your side of the contract. Payment deferrals, credit extensions, and an exchange of services are all potential options to consider proposing.
  • Strategy – Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities is always necessary, but in the current economic climate, it’s doubly important. You don’t want your recruitment partner and your HR department to be stepping on each other’s toes. This is not to say that their duties won’t occasionally overlap, but everyone needs to know exactly what’s expected of them. So, work together to answer the following questions: Which recruiting strategies will you employ? What software and platforms will you use? Who will perform screenings? Who will conduct interviews? Who will negotiate salaries? Once these roles are established, have a closer look at your recruiting targets. Your hiring needs may have changed dramatically in light of recent events, and all relevant parties need to be kept abreast of the situation.
  • Data analysis – The time it takes to hire a new employee, the cost per new hire, and your retention rates are all important data points to keep track of to make sure your hiring decisions have a positive impact. Proper data collection, followed by careful analysis of that data, will also provide insights on the type of talent you need to search for. If you’re not seeing the right candidates, you might need to further tweak your strategy and pursue different or additional recruitment channels. You should also conduct surveys throughout the recruitment process. Software programmes can analyse the data from these surveys to determine where the best candidates are being found. Making the right adjustments in light of these data insights will allow you to continuously improve your recruitment efforts.
  • Streamlining processes – As we mentioned above, recessions lead to more top-quality people finding themselves on the job market. But as the talent pool deepens, it also widens. More people of all experience and skill levels will also be looking for work. This means you’ll likely be seeing far more applications for each new vacancy than you would in ordinary times. Spending valuable time poring over resumes from unqualified candidates just isn’t tenable. Your recruitment partner can help you set up effective processes from the beginning to ensure you’re only seeing top-tier candidates. Filters like these will enable you to make the most of a limited budget.

The right partner makes everything easier

While the discussion points outlined above are extremely important to keep in mind, an agile and flexible recruiter will have already considered them. In times of economic strife, finding the right candidates can make all the difference – and you simply can’t afford to experiment with ineffective recruiters.

At Connexus Global, we use our market-leading research capabilities and unrivalled contact networks to fill specialist roles quickly and effectively. Regardless of the type of role you need to fill, from entry level to upper management, our technology and data-driven approach will ensure that you find the perfect candidate every time.

Ben McDonald


Consumer & Industrial Markets


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