When hiring slows down, you don’t have to: A recruiter’s guide to adapting

Woman working on computer at home

As we adapt to rapid changes in the economy and uncertainty in the world around us, many companies are making critical pivots to their business strategies. If you’re a recruiter, you might find that your hiring plan has changed dramatically within a short period of time.

This sudden hiring slowdown will definitely take some adjustment. But it can also be an incredible opportunity for your team to refocus your priorities internally. In other words, you now have the gift of time to focus on all those projects, processes and ideas that normally get relegated to the backburner. Out of the challenges we’re facing is the chance to shift the focus to project and programmatic work.

We caught up with a few members of the Greenhouse Talent Acquisition team – Recruiting Manager Ariana Moon and Recruiters Kate MacAllister and Generi Talens – to share their tips and tricks for thriving during a hiring slowdown. Here’s what they had to say.


Your organization has just announced a hiring slowdown. What do you do?

First, you’ll want to work with your company’s leaders to clearly define what’s happening. Are you putting a pause on all roles or just specific ones? What will happen for candidates in various stages of the pipeline? Do you have a timeframe for when you expect to resume your regularly scheduled hiring activities? Once you know the answers to those questions, you can take the following steps:


Check on candidates.
For any candidates who you’re still speaking with, take a moment to check in and see how they’re doing. Give the candidate the opportunity to share their experience and ask if it's still a good time to take the interview. Especially with so many people challenged with disrupted personal schedules, recruiters need to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.

It’s important for the recruiter to acknowledge the elephant in the room and to be empathetic to the candidate's experience of it. With so much uncertainty in the world, the human thing to do is to simply start off by asking the candidate how they’re doing.
–Ariana Moon, Recruiting Manager at Greenhouse

Close roles. Close down any current open roles that will be impacted, both on your company’s career page and in external job posts.


Communicate.
Thoughtfully communicate updates to any candidates in your pipeline whose applications are likely to be delayed or paused. For example, Generi recommends letting promising candidates know that you think they’d be a good fit and the hiring pause is a strategic business decision. Generi adds that it’s important to provide as much detail as you can and be transparent about areas of uncertainty.

When closing down or pausing a role, be sure to personalize your communication with candidates, especially those who have made it to the later stages of your pipeline whoshow a lot of promise. Create a positive experience so they’ll want to re-engage with you when you do get the green light to reopen the role.
–Kate MacAllister, Recruiter at Greenhouse

Organize your candidate relationship management (CRM). Use your CRM tool and create a way to track all candidates who are affected by the current pause. This will make it easy for you to 1) keep those candidates in the loop about when you're planning to resume or accelerate hiring and 2) jump-start your job searches with warm leads once you're ready to reopen them.


Review data.
Ensure you have complete data and information such as scorecard feedback for any candidates currently in the pipeline so there are no gaps when you press play again on hiring. You might need to follow up with hiring managers to make sure they’ve done their part here!


You’ve taken care of all immediate needs. What’s next?

Once you’ve tied up all the loose ends with open roles and candidates in your pipeline, you can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What are some of the more strategic or time-consuming projects you’ve always wanted to work on? “The way I think about it is, ‘How can I be most useful in my role? What are some ways I can help out other departments?’ says Generi. “Asking these questions helps me think about how I can use the knowledge I have today to help out other departments and become a more strategic partner.”

Here are a few suggestions from our talent acquisition team.


Clean up internal documentation
. For example, you can create or refine FAQs for other recruiters on your team to provide talking points about your company or upgrade documents that live in spreadsheets into more interactive or automated platforms.


Dig into your data and reports
. If you don’t have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place because you’ve always been too busy, now’s the time to create these goals and consider how you’ll measure and report on them in the future.


Deepen your understanding of the tools your team uses
to manage hiring processes. For example, if you’d like to take your knowledge of Greenhouse to the next level, you can do the following:

  • Clean up your Greenhouse data. Complete a data quality audit. Align your team on key changes moving forward and consider some retroactive data clean-up.
  • Fully build out structured hiring. Having thoughtful templates and robust interview kits takes time. Explore this page to help build out your structured hiring process.
  • Better enable your team to use Greenhouse. A slowdown in hiring is a great time to refresh your enablement and internal training resources. Leverage this page as a jumping-off point to create a more robust curriculum for onboarding new users to your Greenhouse workflows.


Improve your internal interview process
by creating additional training and resources for hiring teams.


Revamp your capacity model
. See Capacity modeling essentials: Understanding past performance and forecasting the future for more information on how to do this.


F
ocus on a targeted approach with candidates and more personalized outreach and engagement. Now, more than ever, personalization, human connection, sensitivity and empathy are critical in outreach.


Focus on your own professional development
. Now’s the time to take an online course, get a certification or binge-watch all those webinars in your inbox.

Similarly, if your team has wanted to tackle any strategic projects like creating an official DE&I hiring policy, rewriting your people manager interview scorecards or revamping your training for culture add interviews, you can work on those projects now.


Create a backlog of content
for employer branding initiatives. Interview employees for blog posts or podcasts, gather photos and videos and write social media copy that’ll be easy to plug in once your hiring picks up again.


Contribute to cross-functional teams and initiatives
. You might start with other people teams such as people operations, talent management, employee experience or learning & development, or even look for ways to collaborate with other departments like sales, customer success or marketing. Perhaps you can lend your CRM expertise to your customer success team or help newer members of the sales team with their outreach emails. You have a unique understanding of your business and your people, and now’s the time to share it.

Adapting to a hiring slowdown or pause takes creativity and ingenuity. Luckily, these are both traits that you’ve been developing throughout your recruiting career so far. By looking for opportunities to be strategic in your overall programs and processes, you can help ensure your team is set up for success, now and when hiring picks back up again.


Looking to get the most out of distributed work and set your teams up for success? Download our new eBook today.

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Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.