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Recession Proof Your Hiring Process

(June 30, 2008) Everywhere you turn, everyone is talking about a recession - are we headed for one or are we already in one? While the world is busy looking up to see if the sky is really falling, one of the most critical business processes that routinely heads straight down into the basement of corporate priorities is recruitment.

"In actuality, a recession is a great time to recruit. Forward-thinking businesses capitalize on the talent that unexpectedly finds itself on the street to build 'future teams' that will help them reach their long-term growth targets once the economy inevitably turns around, " says Kim Shepherd, CEO of Decision Toolbox.

"To recession-proof recruitment, companies need to be prepared for each extreme of the job market spectrum: job rich/candidate poor and job poor/candidate rich," continues Shepherd. "With a plan in place for both contingencies, managers can stop worrying about Wall Street and start solving the problem eternally at hand: filling openings quickly with quality candidates."

For the past three years, it has been in a job rich/candidate poor environment. In a job rich environment, attracting talent requires a strategy with three key differentiators:
    1.   An aggressive plan to source passive talent implemented by knowledgeable recruiters and anchored by a compelling description of the opportunity.

    2.   A high-touch screening process that "courts" candidates with friendly, professional and timely communications.

    3.   Streamlined interview and offer processes, enabling, for example, same-day offers for key candidates.
On the other hand, if a downturn does take hold and suddenly all of those jobs dry up, the pendulum swings to a job poor/candidate rich environment, and a very different set of recruiting rules:
    1.   Meticulously crafted marketing messages that not only attract qualified applicants, but turn away candidates who are not a fit.

    2.   Investment in technology to facilitate the rapid screening/ranking of a large volume of resumes.

    3.   Revisiting and improving the candidate experience - for every candidate, qualified or not -- from a company's careers page to offers, eliminating the "black hole" experience.
"And thanks to the Federal Reserve, recessions are becoming shorter and less severe, so by the time you have your superstars through training, the economy might well cooperate and grow like gangbusters along with you," concludes Shepherd.

Colleen Gildea
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