Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

4 Ways The Next Recession Will Change Recruitment

“…The chances that the nation will fall into recession have increased sharply in the last two weeks,” Neil Irwin, senior economics correspondent for The Upshot, recently shared with the NY Times

His comments come after the U.S. experienced impressive financial growth and economic success since the last recession just 10 years ago. The natural rise and fall of the market means this high won’t last forever. 

Irwin positively noted, however, that the U.S. has the potential to avoid a recession in the foreseeable future. With the possibility though on the horizon, it’s critical recruiters understand what they could face. Preparing now gives you the power to readjust strategies before the downfall begins. 

Here’s what four recruitment experts say you can expect during the next recession:

1. A heightened focus on recruitment optimization

Jonathan DuarteIf you’re recruiting in a market that is losing market share, is caught up in the US/China trade war, or is static, but revenues are dependent on other markets mentioned above, start learning more about recruiting optimization and recruiting technology

Unfortunately, in some cases, the recruitment team will be the first to get downsized. Those asked to stay will be the ones producing the most per the cost of their salary. And they’ll be the ones adding value outside of day-to-day recruiting activities. 

Learn what’s needed in your recruiting organization to do more with less. When the next recession arrives, it’s better to have already been working on implementing a strategy in the company, than to be the one getting the pink slip. 

Jonathan Duarte, Founder, GoHire, Inc.

2. Increased competition paired with undedicated candidates

Kristen FowlerAs we enter into another recession, recruiters will find candidates with less staying power and lack tenure at their respective companies. Also, with the onset of more AI recruiting programs, such as ZipRecruiter, recruiters will find more difficult competition throughout the industry. 

Recruiters must begin to build up their networks prior to the onslaught of the next recession. Utilize internal databases and find avenues to identify passive candidates instead of staying dependent on recruiting sites. 

Continue to stay persistent. Refrain from utilizing the ‘low hanging fruit’ — meaning avoid lowering your standards to recruit ‘easy’ candidates. 

Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead for Clarke Caniff Strategic Search and VP at JMJ Phillip Group 

3. Baby Boomers will lean into retirement

Tom McGeeWhen the next downturn hits, many baby boomers will finally retire. This will make the difference between open job orders and candidates-to-fill closer to one-on-one or slightly favoring the candidates. 

Before the recession hits, take time to develop deep relationships with your ‘A’ candidates – even the ones not currently looking for new roles. I teach recruiters to reach out to their top candidates at least once every two months to stay top-of-mind. 

With this approach, when a candidate is ready for a change or they get promoted and need to hire someone, you will be on their radar and likely the first call. At the same time, recruiters need to develop a territory plan where they are reaching out to past clients on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. 

Being a strong business developer and building long-term relationships is what pulls recruiters through a downturn. Knowledge is power and the more you know about the niche you recruit in and the players in that niche, the more successful you will be. 

Tom McGee, VP and general manager of the sales and marketing division for Lucas Group

4. Candidates will focus on job security and career growth

Michael GreenWhen we speak to candidates at the moment, benefits such as flexible or remote working are a big part of their decision-making process. In a recession, we expect security and career growth will become more important than being able to work from home. That means negotiating salaries and dealing in cold, hard numbers will become even more important to recruiters. 

People see tech as a viable career move that offers stability. We know the skills that are transferable and the attributes that enable someone to successfully cross-train. Make sure you know in advance exactly how people can transition into your recruitment areas.

Michael Green, VP of Nelson Frank


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Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 5,000+ customers in over 100 countries.