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How to Hire During Unexpected Times Like Right Now

Finding great talent for your organization can be tough during even the best of times. With the coronavirus pandemic creating major disruptions in the labor market and a recession in sight, it may be more difficult than ever to get the right person for your job. What can employers and hiring teams do to attract new employees in a time of uncertainty? How can you get your hiring news out there and then use it to grab the best talent? 

Take a look at these strategies for hiring in an economic downturn. You can also learn more about hiring trends during COVID-19 with our report, which pulled anonymized data from hundreds of Comeet customers across the world. 

Is your business ready to remotely recruit new employees?

Establishing that you need new employees is just the start. For the onboarding process to go smoothly and to ensure your new hires aren’t frustrated by being hired remotely, you’ll need to update your HR processes to meet the times. Look at each of the steps in your recruitment process and see which are ready to go remote—and which need some work. While the pandemic won’t last forever, having remote-friendly hiring policies in place will be beneficial for years to come. 

How to plan ahead

Your current hiring needs won’t likely look like tomorrow’s, even without the prospect of a recession. Take these extra steps to keep your hiring strategy on-target, even as the economy changes.

1. Assess your hiring plan

It can be difficult to accurately pinpoint just how many people hours you can afford right now, but getting it wrong could cost you. Look at both what you need now and what you’ll need in one year’s time. Ensure your recruitment plan (and timeline) looks at your business forecast and anticipates changes in production, market demands, and your budget.

How will things look different if a recession does come again? If an economic downturn appears certain, hire those critical-need new roles first and look at promoting existing employees so that they can creatively take on important tasks. Firing and layoffs should be the last resort since turnover is costly. 

2. Understand how the job market will change

Because of the pandemic and economy, the current hiring landscape may be very unfamiliar for hiring teams. In the past, it has been easier to designate a job market as “candidate-driven” or “employer-driven.” With some industries shut down and others deemed as “essential services,” your industry, geographic location, and online capabilities may determine whether you are in the driver’s seat.

Focusing on existing employee morale and retention may be some of your best defenses against a constantly changing labor market, since keeping your people is almost always preferential to having to look outside. 

3. Create a recession-proof strategy

Now that you know what you can afford in a great recession as well as the impact on your specific industry, you can create a hiring strategy that includes a priority list of roles you need filled now and those that would be nice to fill if budget allows.

Adjust your hiring process to be the most cost and time-efficient by using tech tools when appropriate to avoid duplicating efforts or leaving promising new hires hanging. Consider using an applicant tracking system (ATS) like Comeet to stay on top of the hiring process from start to finish.

After your new and streamlined cycle is planned out, compare it to the timeline for when a downturn or other economic event may happen. While you can’t always predict these events, it’s helpful to know how long a hire will take from start to finish—especially in a downturn.  

Tips on hiring during COVID-19 and unexpected times

Your standard hiring methods may not work well in difficult times. Whether it’s during a pandemic or economic downturn, these strategies can help you hire better and get your scaled-down recruiting budget back on track. 

1. Let people know you’re hiring

You can use your regular advertising channels to get the word out about your job, but don’t forget to use word-of-mouth and employee referrals to jump-start interest. In uncertain times, people may be reluctant to leave a stable job, while others may feel the need to find something new that can sustain them during a difficult season. Use your social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and other free platforms as much as you can.

Another great way to get the word out is by hosting a LinkedIn Party. The concept is simple: Invite employees to a gathering of some sort. It can be as simple or elaborate as your timing, resources, and budget allow. But at a minimum, consider offering drinks and snacks.

During the gathering, each attendee signs onto LinkedIn and contacts friends, acquaintances, and former coworkers that may be relevant candidates for your open positions.

This party helps spur a concentrated effort of sourcing — and it provides a fun environment for employees to spend time together. Pro tip: Consider offering a prize to the employee that reaches out to the most people during the party.

2. Position your company competitively

It’s smart to watch the budget, but don’t ditch tools that offer value and help you make hiring decisions quickly. Recruiters could have a role in your pandemic hiring strategy since they have large networks and bring insight into getting your word out remotely. If there’s a chance a competing business is using a tool or resource, you should at least consider it. Pay attention to what other companies are offering for similar roles and plan to at least match it. 

3. Have a detailed and updated recruiting plan

When is the last time you documented your recruiting strategy? If it’s been over a year or you haven’t changed it since pre-pandemic days, now is the time. Use this leaner, more effective plan to get you through whatever tough times the next year brings. Also, don’t forget to craft compelling and effective job descriptions!

4. Prioritize quality and candidate experience

With more people looking for work, you can pace yourself and find exactly the right candidate. Focus on skill sets, expertise, and experience and know that fewer job opportunities play in your favor. You can narrow down your top three or four picks from the candidate pool and use your talent acquisition process as a way to get to know each candidate better. 

5. Close candidates more swiftly

On the other hand, it’s common for candidates to want to get a job quickly, since some may have been looking for some time. Use this urgency to your advantage by moving the top candidates through the recruiting process rapidly and into their new position as soon as possible.

6. Be realistic about your offer

How does your employment offer compare to those from other companies in your industry? What can you expect from new hires during a downturn or pandemic? Never assume that your offer is more competitive than it is, and don’t promise more than what you can afford. Even for the top talent, it’s not worth going over budget significantly and risking your company’s bottom line. 

7. Prioritize remote working skills

Even if you don’t have a need for remote workers now, the world changes too often for you to ignore it completely. When choosing between two equally qualified candidates, look to their ability to work remotely as a tie-breaker. Use screening questions to determine which of these quality candidates are most comfortable with remote work technology and communication.

8. Utilize your existing candidate pool

Someone you may have passed over previously may still be looking for work. Don’t dismiss your second or third choice for a similar role, as they may be perfect for this new opportunity. Existing candidates require less screening and you can often move them through the recruiting cycle quicker, too. 


Just when we think we’ve seen it all, a new world event happens. From political swings to a world health crisis, many of these societal ripples find their way in the hiring office. Recruiters and hiring managers need to be nimble and use all of their available resources to hire with care and ensure they spend less time and less money than before. Learn more about the trends in hiring from COVID-19 in our free report

And if you aren’t using an ATS to help you trim the waste in people hours and marketing spend, now’s the time to consider it. Learn how Comeet can help put your hiring plan into action today!

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