Article main image
Aug 23, 2022

It’s hard to imagine we’ll have another year with quite so many of the ups and downs we experienced in 2020.

But, let’s face it, 2022 has been…busy.

On the one hand, we’re still in the midst of a workforce reshuffle – with employees continuing to resign and companies continuing to offer large pay increases in order to offset it.

On the other, we’ve also seen huge fluctuations in the market, with a number of companies announcing hiring freezes or layoffs (such as Microsoft and Google most recently). So how do we reconcile these narratives?

As a recruiter and founder of my own company, I think we all need a subtle shift in our mindset if we are to tackle these market shifts.

Here are some of my observations for HR professionals:

Take an inventory of where you’re at with hiring

First, take a breath and check the health of your organization. How many open roles do you have? How many roles have been filled in the last few months? What’s your offer acceptance rate? This mantra is often forgotten: The stronger your hiring has been, the stronger your current team is, and strong teams are a great asset when businesses need to pivot quickly.

VC firm, a16z, provides a helpful framework for businesses to think through their costs and what their runway ahead is during market changes. They recommend companies consider three scenarios: base case (slowing down or holding flat), best case, and worst case. After you’ve mapped out what each of these may look like, you can review and make changes on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Also, consider this: If finance isn’t one of your day-to-day responsibilities, is there someone on your hiring team who oversees it? Can you meet with the finance managers that support your department? Understanding where your organization stands can be helpful in taking stock of your hiring plans.

Think carefully about what you want your hires to accomplish

Spend time revising your job descriptions and consider all the skills your company may need, in addition to those that are the most urgent. Why? Because if the business pivots, you need to be able to answer this key question: do you have candidates who can pivot with it, or (better yet) bring new ideas to the table? You also need to understand what skillsets overlap with areas that could become a focus down the road.

Let me give you an example. Imagine hiring a product manager to take on a new AI feature. One prospect has more technical knowledge, while the other has great experience monetizing products. Perhaps the monetization candidate is worth another look, as they may be able to ramp up revenue streams faster.

The interview process is another way to identify adaptable hires. At Recruiting from Scratch, we like to ask internal hires to tell us about a time when they had to make a decision without all the relevant information. A question like this can help you identify the attributes you’re looking for ­– like how a candidate deals with uncertainty, and if they put on their cleats for a good game.

Capitalize on candidate opportunities when possible

If you’re at a smaller organization, make note of hiring freezes or layoffs at larger companies. There’s a chance candidates they would have hired become available and/or more interested in your organization.

Additionally, as markets shift, candidates may take stock of their career goals – just like they did when the pandemic started. When a shift happens, candidates tend to ask themselves these sorts of questions: Where can I go to make a long-term investment in myself? Where can I go to advance in my career? Where can I take on more responsibilities and take on that next title? Often, a different organization (and a smaller one), may be the right answer for some of those candidates.

One other thing: Smaller organizations may also be able to offer additional perks, like stock options, which could be more compelling than cash.

Focus on the positive and offer support to your existing employees

Maintaining a positive attitude is always a good idea but remember, there are plenty of opportunities coming. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, Venmo, and What’sApp were founded during or immediately following the Great Recession. More opportunities will come.

The second key thing to remember is to offer support to your current employees. While it’s important to be honest and let them know you don’t have all the answers, employees want to know they are supported. This could take the form of increased communication, mental health resources, or maybe even help navigating 401Ks and their investments – whatever makes sense for your business.

Whether it’s another Covid surge, a war, or the current financial uncertainty, things can feel, understandably, stressful. By supporting your staff, you’re creating a stronger business and a place people will want to continue working for.