Hiring under uncertainty: top 7 recruiting strategies for success

How can you better prepare for uncertainty and develop a future-proof and resilient recruitment strategy? Check out our top 7 recruiting strategies for success.

Jan Söderström

With the global economic downturn, financial uncertainties, the looming recession, and labor shortages, it’s no doubt a challenging time for hiring talent. Many organizations are undergoing hiring freezes and mass layoffs, forcing recruiters and talent acquisition specialists to shift priorities.

On top of all this, you need to keep up with the latest recruitment technology and candidates’ increasing demands for a more diverse and transparent hiring process.

Like many industries, HR has undergone huge changes in the past years and The Great Resignation. With high employee turnover and shrinking budgets, the hiring environment is getting harder—even for the World’s Most Attractive Brands, according to Universum’s Employer Branding NOW 2022 study.

How can you better prepare for uncertainty and develop a future-proof and resilient recruitment strategy?

The challenges caused by uncertainty are not something the HR department can tackle alone. Rather, the whole organization needs to be prepared. With the proper tools, focus, and agility, you can not just survive amidst economic uncertainty, but even thrive.

In this article, we’ll cover how you can mitigate risks, seize opportunities, and have a resilient strategy in place to help navigate the unpredictable business world.

How to future-proof your recruitment strategy

Here are some practical steps you can take to adopt a resilient recruitment strategy during turbulent times.

1. Take a long-term recruiting perspective

Even if you have to pause or cancel open positions and stop accepting applicants as part of a hiring freeze, that doesn’t mean it’s time to drop all talent acquisition activities.

Some companies even choose to continue hiring during uncertain times because it can be easier to recruit great talent—there’s less competition with other companies who aren’t in a position to hire.

However, if you’re unable to hire right now, remember that it won’t last forever and you’ll eventually need to get back to recruiting—maybe in higher volumes and faster than before. Take a long-term view and aim to hire more efficiently in the future.

The best talent acquisition specialists don’t just fill roles, but solve business problems. Together with your colleagues, assess the main risks and challenges you may face, identify potential skill gaps in your workforce, and develop strategies to fill those gaps.

2. Maintain candidate relationships

It’s especially crucial to keep up candidate communication in uncertain times. Let any candidates in the pipeline know what the situation is at your organization and what to expect next. If you get applications during a hiring freeze, for example, don’t just respond “Thanks for your application.” Acknowledge their application, and explain your current situation so that they feel heard and valued.

If you need to pause hiring, it could also be a good opportunity to build a feedback survey to measure the candidate experience. You can then take candidates’ inputs into account to improve your hiring process when things pick back up.

3. Double down on employer branding

86% of the World’s Most Attractive Employers call employer branding a key priority. Top employers view it not as an expense, but as a strategic asset.

Employer branding helps you attract and retain the type of people that drive growth and innovation—even in uncertain times. By showcasing your company culture and values, you help build trust among both employees and candidates.

To build your employer brand, maintain candidate-facing content on your career page and social media channels. For example, showcase all the perks and benefits you offer on your career page, and encourage employees to share glimpses into their daily life on their social channels.

Consider whether it’s time to upgrade your employee benefits. Are employees happy with them? What do they feel is missing? What small things can you offer employees that can make a big difference?

4. Ensure your current employees feel supported

Employee retention goes hand in hand with recruitment.

These uncertain times are not easy for your employees: they might be stressed about losing their positions, and some might be taking on extra work due to layoffs in the organization, which could lead to burnout.

Make it your priority to ensure employees feel heard with whatever uncertainty and worries they have. Create psychological safety in the workplace to help employees feel comfortable talking about how they’re feeling, and what they wish your organization would do better.

Consider creating an anonymous survey where you ask employees to share their concerns and advice, then work to provide better support based on their answers.

Be sure to encourage breaks and vacations when possible. Remind employees about options like unpaid leave and using their flexible hours if they need to. Managers should set an example by scheduling time off as well.

5. Focus on employee development 

Offering learning and development (L&D) programs are an important part of retaining and recruiting great people. In fact, L&D opportunities are among the top priorities for millennial and Gen Z job seekers today, according to a 2022 Deloitte report.

In times of financial uncertainty, top employers focus on reskilling and upskilling employees. Upskilling involves helping employees develop new competencies that relate to their current position so that they can further specialize.

Reskilling involves helping employees learn new skills to become more adaptable and possibly take on a different role within the organization. This is important if you want to internally recruit for a role. For example, if you need to fill a more senior position, consider promoting someone from within the organization.

6. Assess your current hiring process 

If your organization is slowing down recruitment, it’s a good time to assess and shape up your overall hiring process. Then when you start recruiting again, you’ll be working smarter and more effectively.

Talk with hiring managers about the current needs and what they would like to do better in the future. Consider how you can take a more agile approach to stay resilient to changes and be open to new approaches and strategies.

Check your recruitment metrics like hiring time and cost per hire and pinpoint any process gaps and areas that need work, then get a team together to start taking action.

Assess how data-driven your recruitment team really is. While most companies see data-driven recruiting as a priority, many talent leaders admit they are still not data-driven when it comes to recruiting, according to Universum’s Employer Branding NOW 2022 study.

A data-driven approach will be especially crucial as hiring needs ramp back up and talent leaders will need to make the argument for bigger budgets.

7. Invest in the right recruitment tools 

Top employers embrace digital transformation and automation. The right recruiting technology allows you to be more efficient, use your time right, and focus on your most important tasks.

Explore new technologies and tools that can help you stay competitive and meet the challenges of uncertainty. Take stock of your current hiring tools and ask yourself:

    • Are the tools we’re using making our hiring process more efficient?
    • What tools are not working for us? What tools can we stop using or replace to create a simpler hiring process?
    • re we happy with our ATS? What could we integrate into our ATS to make hiring more efficient?
    • Where are we spending the most time in the hiring process? What tools could help speed things up?

Consider investing in innovative recruitment tools like video screening, for example. Compared to traditional methods like phone screening, recruiters save huge amounts of time and resources with pre-recorded video interviews. By having fewer live interviews, you can save about 55% of your time during the screening process.

Stay resilient in uncertain times

While you might not know what the world economy—let alone your organization—will look like in months or years from now, these recruiting strategies can help you build resilience and agility.

By taking a long-term recruiting perspective and preparing your team to hire even more efficiently than before, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges of uncertainty.

To better prepare for next year, check out our on-demand webinar Recruiting Trends in 2023. Four recruitment experts from Sweden, Denmark, and the UK discuss everything from social issues like remote work dilemmas to the tech stacks of modern recruiters.

Get the webinar recording