Every moment of the staffing process is full of unknowns.
You don’t know who in your talent pool is off the job market at any given time. It’s challenging to predict whether or not clients will like the candidates you send their way. Once you place candidates, there’s no telling how long they’ll stay in that role.
Of course, you anticipate these possibilities and prepare as much as possible. However, one unpredictable factor shakes the staffing world to its very core — a hiring freeze. This is one of the most intimidating unknowns. Many variables can trigger an unexpected freeze, putting preparedness beyond your control.
Your clients could hit a financial setback; the economy, as a whole, could fluctuate; there could be a company scandal, and so on. In response to these changes, your clients could put their hiring processes on hold, making your typical staffing services momentarily unnecessary.
Considering there are roughly 20,000 other staffing and recruiting companies in the United States, according to the American Staffing Association, you can’t risk being seen as non-essential. When clients eventually re-open their hiring process, if you’re not top of mind, the opportunity for competitors to swoop in increases exponentially.
During a hiring freeze, you must remain a valuable asset to your clients. They may not need you to source top talent for them immediately. However, they also may not know they need your expertise to get them through this challenge and prepare for future hiring.
Here’s how you can stay valuable for clients during an unexpected hiring freeze:
Share insider industry insights
You’ve worked hard to become a staffing expert in your clients’ industries. You understand what trends mean for present staffing needs and how to predict what they mean for the future.
Don’t let halted hiring processes prevent you from being clients’ go-to source for industry information. More than ever, they need you to keep a watchful eye on how trends will impact their hiring needs, decisions, and processes while they focus on more immediate company needs.
Prepare clients for future hiring by regularly sharing up-to-date industry trends along with your specific insights into how they impact your client’s staffing goals. Compare current events to research you pull from previous outcomes to reinforce your predictions.
For example, if a market shift causes the hiring freeze, dig into records and look for similar occurrences:
- What happened to the talent market in your client’s specific industry when the market shifted in the past?
- On average, how long did it take for companies to reestablish hiring?
- Once they opened hiring, what were their target candidates looking for in an organization based on their experiences during the freeze?
Analyze what clients are facing in the current market climate, and how your team can help them prepare with a strategy fit for their unique needs.
Maintain candidate relationships
You’re not just a staffing pro; you’re an extension of your client’s recruitment team. Your initial connection with candidates could make or break a successful placement for your clients. It’s a complicated process, but you understand how to make these relationships work and put your clients’ brands on blast.
A hiring freeze complicates this process. If you don’t maintain healthy recruiting relations with candidates, clients’ competitors, and other staffing agencies have an opportunity to grab up top talent. However, relationship-building could seem futile to many candidates if you don’t approach conversations about your client’s hiring hold carefully.
Keep conversations going with candidates regarding potential future opportunities. Be extra clear and transparent to earn their trust and ensure they don’t feel led on. Ask questions regarding their career searches, such as:
- Are you actively job hunting?
- Are you in a permanent or temporary job situation?
- What are your job search goals over the next six months to a year?
- Is it essential for you to find a job right now or to wait for the right opportunity?
Once you’ve assessed which candidates are right for future roles, discuss why the company is a good fit for the candidate, and vice versa. Take time to note specific details regarding their unique skills and role expectations. As questions arise, respond honestly about clients’ hiring freezes while also sharing exciting plans for the future.
Organize talent libraries
A hiring freeze is an unnerving time filled with many unknowns, especially when it comes to funneling future hires into your staffing talent pool. Every minute your client is not hiring, their (and your) competitors are connecting with and onboarding new talent.
Prove you won’t sit back and idly watch as top talent slips away. Continue to use video interviews to help clients remain a top competitor, even while hiring is beyond reach. Record screening interviews to fill video libraries with qualified candidates for future open roles.
One-way video interviews allow you to create pre-determined questions relevant to future job openings, such as culture fit or questions showing alignment with the company mission and values. After candidates record their answers, you can send or save the link for clients to review at their convenience.
Ask clients to rate candidates based on what roles they are currently qualified for and company culture fit. These responses give you the insight to organize videos and rank candidates by which roles they potentially align with and fill in notes about specific skill sets they have or need to acquire.
When clients are ready to jump back into hiring, you’ll have a headstart on sourcing top talent by turning to the video interviews in each client’s library. This organization system will also help streamline the next steps and develop the most telling live video and in-person interview questions.
Assess shifting roles
Unexpected changes can occur inside and outside the company, which means leaders must consider shifting roles to keep them relevant and budget-friendly. As a result, certain roles have the potential to shift from permanent to temporary employment.
The trouble is, assessing which roles can be temporary and will work well in that setting is time-consuming. Narrow down the roles you believe will smoothly and successfully transition into contract positions. Send clients this shortlist, asking for their input to create a more concrete list of temporary roles.
You’ll want to use this list to build a plan for the start of hiring processes. Ask clients these questions:
- How many temporary employees will you need in each of these roles?
- What makes this role ideal for temporary work?
- What will employees benefit from if taking this temporary employment opportunity?
- What skills, traits, experiences, etc. does someone who will excel in each role possess?
- What is the busiest time of the year for this role?
- What is the least busy time of year for this role?
- At the least busy time, what’s the minimum number of contractors you’ll need for each role?
Update your processes
Depending on the reason for the hiring pause, some clients may need to make significant adjustments to processes, while others need a few minor tweaks when hiring resumes. Either way, how you prepare for those updates will determine the success of your future placement process.
To stay relevant, you must evolve with your clients’ hiring processes. Based on the hiring freeze timeline, clients could be ready to restart hiring during their busiest time of the year. Some of their changes, however, could cause a bumpy kickoff to hiring.
If they’ve lost team members or had a shuffle in leadership, for example, consider how those shifts could impact their hiring time. These changes could affect the steps you take to help them get back on track.
It’s essential also to assess any company-wide changes that impact the type of talent you’ll source. A shift in company leadership or structure could lead to updated company culture or mission. Now is the time to determine what updates will need to be made to all application materials, including job descriptions and interview questions.
As you begin to update questions, take time to improve how you structure interviews and your evaluation process to effectively assess for future talent, rather than always focusing on current placements. Create screening questions that access each candidate’s vision of the future, such as long-term career goals or personal development.
Evaluate how you use technology
Assessing and updating processes often helps you more accurately evaluate how technology works — or doesn’t — with clients’ systems. Some tools may have worked well with past sourcing and interview processes. Still, you’ll need to change how they’re implemented or ditch them altogether if you see a decline in important metrics, such as candidate dropout rate, engagement ratings, or placement times.
There’s no better time to do a full evaluation of your technology toolbox than when clients pause hiring. You can focus on really digging into the fine details of valuable staffing metrics.
Grade each tool on efficiency, effectiveness, and usability by assessing data points, such as time to hire, first-year turnover, dropout rates, and more. This will help you understand which tools worked and which didn’t, but most importantly, why. You can use this information to determine the type of technology you’ll need to add to help clients improve their staffing outcomes post-hiring freeze.
For example, if you reveal candidate dropout rates are a result of low candidate engagement due to gaps in communication, you could start connecting with talent more regularly.
A dedicated collaboration platform designed specifically for staffing gives you the ability to answer candidate questions and provide updates throughout a hiring freeze with features like text messaging. When hiring begins again, this steps streamlines the process by allowing clients to jump right back in with nurtured leads.