A recession is looming, and fears of economic instability is at the forefront of conversations across the world. In fact, consulting firm KPMG found that 90 percent of US CEOs are expecting a major economic downturn, highlights Dina Bay.

In response to the challenges on the horizon, many large organizations have begun freezing hires and letting staff go. Meta, Amazon, and Apple have all made layoffs as they prepare for a recession. But not every company is a tech giant and there are still opportunities for growth.

Many businesses will look to find new talent despite a challenging market. This is already evident as job openings jumped in September, and this may well continue.

With plenty of organizations looking for new candidates, let’s look at how businesses can hire effectively in a recession.

Assess your needs

It is essential to review the needs of a business. Just because a department requests more staff, that does not necessarily mean they need the extra headcount, equally, if a team isn’t calling for more hires that does not mean they are not overworked.

Assessing what a company needs is a vital part of retention and growth. To assess an organisation properly, leaders need to readdress goals and begin laying out a step-by-step plan of how targets can be achieved as well as outlining blockers that could have a negative impact.

In terms of hiring, understanding where skill gaps are present helps companies make the right hires when they are needed. This knowledge is also hugely beneficial when deciding on whether to advertise permanent positions or contracted work.

Strategising how your business can navigate the looming recession will undoubtedly help an organization make the right hire. The time to begin planning is now and many senior leaders are already making tough decisions.

Professional services firm Aon found that 79 percrnt of CEOs are not only expecting a recession but are already building a strategy around the upheaval it will cause.

Keep your benefits

The study by Aon noted that 39 percent of CEOs who said they were anticipating a recession will consider slashing employee benefits in the future. While this may save money in the short-term it could be problematic when attracting candidates in the future.

The economic fortunes of companies may fluctuate, but employee expectations will adjust at a slower rate. Those who have been given flexible working hours or the ability to work remotely, won’t want to sacrifice this option. At least, not without hefty compensation in other areas.

Insurance firm SafetyWing conducted a global survey and found that 1 in 3 remote workers claim that they would have stayed at their old job if they had better remote working options. With this in mind, offering some flexibility could be a key differentiator when hiring in a recession.

Additionally, wellbeing initiatives will be essential in difficult times. Erin Terkoski Young, Senior director for WTW’s Health, Equity & Wellbeing practice commented on the lasting importance of wellbeing programs: “Although the pandemic may have started to wane, mental health challenges persist.

“Taking mental health programs to the next level won’t be easy, but employers that succeed will see improvement in productivity, retention, and engagement.”

With the thoughts of Young in mind, I believe wellbeing programs could be a vital difference in helping a company hire. If a policy is good for employee retention, it is a positive for possible hires.

Of course, there are plenty of perks and benefits to consider when attracting candidates, but the key takeaway is that they should be maintained through the good times and the bad.

Change your recruitment process

Another area to consider when hiring is the recycling of candidates. By this, I mean tracking candidates who didn’t take your job offer previously, or missed out on a position.

Whether it is the occasional message, a nurturing email campaign, or something more personal, these are valuable contacts. On top of already impressing an organization, the candidate will likely have picked up more skills over time that can benefit the business.

This process is easier said than done, it requires considerable effort and is often a process that is overlooked. However, if you have an applicant tracking system, it should be used to full effect and recycling candidates is one way to leverage the technology effectively.

Naturally, businesses also need to discover fresh talent who they have not contacted before. Finding good candidates is a time-consuming process that is monotonous for in-house and external recruitment agents.

Searching through recruitment platforms with nothing more than keywords takes time and doesn’t guarantee an ideal skill-match. Equally, traditional candidate sourcing platforms do not lend themselves to finding career shifters or people with transferable skills, who will be vital in helping a business navigate a recession. The search for these kinds of candidates can be aided by technology that updates data and matches the potential skills of applicants.

If you are considering getting rid of technology while growing through the recession, it shouldn’t be in your hiring process. After all, without speeding up hiring how will you meet the demand that has been forecasted?

Developing existing staff

Development programs for existing staff help companies thrive. Staff can address the specific skill gaps an organization has while being incentivized by promotions and it is also a great tool for attracting talent.

The value of development has been shown through a study at Workramp, a learning platform, which found that 94 percent of workers said they would stay at a company longer if their employers invested in their careers. Evidently, development is important to employees and as a result, should play a major role in any hiring strategy.

If a business is deeply concerned about the recession, employee development will not only help attract staff but upskill those already in the business who can help better the company.

There will be businesses that thrive against the odds in a recession, and these organisations will need to develop their current staff and build new teams. The challenge for companies is to do this effectively, as mistakes will be more costly in a period of economic uncertainty.

Focusing on attracting talent through benefits, the recruitment process, and career development is a tried and tested way to be resilient in the coming years.


Dina Bay is the Founder of PitchMe.co