How To Optimize Your Hiring Results During A Market Slowdown

Market slowdowns are ever-recurring. Only economists will dare to predict whether this is another short-term downturn or whether we are facing a full-fledged recession. The most apparent response to the crisis for talent acquisition is layoffs and hiring freezes. But with an ever-increasing scarcity of skilled talent, is it wise to hit the breaks?

There is nothing wrong with having a more conservative and sustainable approach to hiring than we’ve seen during hyper-growth phases in the past years. But key hires will always be employees who drive the business and its growth. What if you’ve decided to temporarily slow down headcount growth or even lay off some of your workforce? What do you need to do in talent acquisition to prepare and improve? 

How to envision your in-house People & Talent Force

Whether you have built an extensive talent acquisition department, have just one dedicated Recruiter, or let HR generalists handle your recruiting, don’t put them on hiring for your key roles. 

Why? For the few hires you’re making right now, you want to get the cream of the crop. Having external expert partners drive recruiting results for these roles likely will be more beneficial. Controversial statement? Read further.

💡Your in-house people team should work with C-Level on retrospecting and planning ahead. Their role is to improve candidate experience, making sure that the top talent you want cannot wait to work for you. 

What can in-house talent acquisition do? You should consider investing in the following 5 areas:   

✅ Refine (or craft from scratch) your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). Having a well-documented EVP helps to hire new people AND retains your internal talent.

✅ People development plans and succession planning. Not many companies are strong at creating the right development plans.This is the basis for organic growth and makes hiring much easier. Searching for less senior people with the right motivations has always been easier than finding the perfect leader that matches your company’s values and ways of working.

✅ Talent intelligence projects. Gather relevant data on the marketplace, talent pools, and competitors. Benchmark your offer against your main talent competitors, and adjust where you can. This will help your expert recruiters to create better talent strategies and to be more effective in their recruiting efforts.

✅ Audit and optimize your end-to-end hiring process. Based on your candidates’ and hiring managers’ feedback, review your processes and refine your candidate relationships. This will increase internal credibility, free up resources, and let you convince top talent to join you. 

✅ Employer Branding. Build valuable assets to help candidates assess your company. Check this case study on how employer branding can support sourcing for critical roles.

How To Optimize Your Hiring Results During A Market Slowdown

Regardless of the slowdown, we suggest you prepare for resilient growth and keep your critical role pipelines alive. Those roles will help you get profitable or keep your business going. Continue talking with candidates, whether you look for salespeople to bring in revenue, product experts to empower your product roadmap or engineers to scale your product; building a pipeline of warm relevant candidates for these positions is not a one-day job but the result of continuous effort.

When your People team focuses on the mentioned areas, your hiring process will become more effective. Now, for your key hires, you want to reach the most relevant candidates. The best way to do this, will be Embedded Recruiting.  

Why does Embedded Recruiting beat internal recruiting every time? 

Let’s first clarify that Embedded Recruiting and RPO (Recruiting Process Outsourcing) are not the same. 

RPO is beneficial for periods of hypergrowth or volume hiring; the external Recruiter merges in the in-house team completely, using the company tools and systems, and usually works on a monthly subscription or retainer basis. 

On the other hand, Embedded Recruiting brings together external (Senior) Talent Partners with your in-house team. From the client side, it can be the People Team, and hiring managers, and even C-level. The external partner syncs with your team to advise on hiring strategy. They provide market insight and execute laser-focused sourcing strategies committed to filling your most critical positions. They bring in their own sourcing tools and instantly expand your network.

Hypergrowth may be a thing of the past, but hiring for growth is still very much the present. If you want to grow sustainably and cost-effectively, it is not worth spending money on state-of-the-art sourcing tools or blow up your internal TA headcount. These are two of the reasons why, over time, Embedded recruiting is more cost-effective than increasing your in-house capacity. 

💡 Your internal team should focus on long-term impact projects, such as iterating your people development plans and successions. 

They should work on your employer’s value proposition and talent intelligence projects. If you have the support of a Recruiter in-house, they should own and improve your marketing inbound recruiting strategy to increase visibility and inbound applications. And of course, always take good care of candidate experience!

If you have never worked embedded with your Talent Partners, you are missing out on their 360º expertise. Some of the main advantages of having an embedded expert are:

Network of existing candidates: as they are talking with candidates on a regular basis and work on keeping those relations warm they can quickly calibrate and align available talent with your requirements. In the case of acework, that network reaches from Europe to LATAM, Africa and APAC. 

Market insight about talent. They recruit for multiple clients at the same time and keep a finger on the pulse of the talent market. 

Advice on employer branding material as they know what works and what doesn’t. A great talent partner is also a skilled talent marketer. E.g.: 

  1. Improves job descriptions: 
    • Starts with a clear definition of the role expectations and tasks.
    • Create a JD that really reflects your needs and doesn’t overwhelm or drive away the candidates you want
    • Can fine tune and highlight your EVP to engage your target candidates
  2. Revises career sites: 
    • Helps you to better showcase your company culture and hiring philosophy
  3. Marketing assets: 
    • Define what type of material attracts your audience. Can support with creation, such as video snippets or detailed info about your product and team

Advise on your hiring processes and candidate evaluation: Every stage should add value for both sides, the candidate and the company, and you should assess candidates objectively. Your talent partner can help you craft assessments and review your decision-making processes to reveal and reduce bias. 

Sometimes, hiring plans are not predictable, and in order to grow at minimum risk, you need experts who understand your business priorities, can take on your key positions, and are ready to execute at speed. An expert embedded recruiter finds people that drive your business outcomes, increase your revenue and build your product.

Embedded recruiting can work in two ways:

In collaboration with your in-house Talent acquisition team OR act as your internal talent team helping plan and execute your hiring efforts in sync with your C-level or hiring managers. Both models can work perfectly. Let’s consider the subtle differences:

Communication and feedback loops are central to success when it’s a collaboration between Talent Partners and In-house TA teams. When possible, direct contact between Talent Partner and the hiring manager increases feedback flow and profile iteration speed. Communication and process definition can be achieved by:

    1. Search Criteria: Conduct an in-depth kick-off meeting to define the strategy based on job requirements, company culture, location preference, time zones, and budget. This is an ongoing conversation.
    2. Process: Agree on an efficient hiring process that provides an excellent candidate experience. The embedded team integrates into your Applicant tracking system to present and manage candidates seamlessly. A great talent partner can embed you into their infrastructure for minimum admin effort if you don’t have your own. 
    3. For communication: 
      • Use messages apps for daily updates (such as Slack or Teams)
      • Weekly sync meetings to make sure you are aligned
      • Share weekly reports on sourcing and interview progress
      • Create a habit of updating your partner e.g. such as new hires, and internal change such as a hiring manager being off on parental leave for example.

When using your Talent Partner instead of an internal TA or People Manager, there is an additional consultancy service that comes into play:

  1. Direct contact and regular communication (JF) with hiring manager and/or hiring team (if involved in the process)
  2. The kick-off meeting is less of a briefing and more of a consultative exploration. You will define/adjust criteria together. You’ll identify what you really need based on your organisational structure, expectations for the role (outputs) and responsibilities.
  3. The hiring manager and Talent partner may build the hiring process from scratch or improve the existing one so it reflects the company culture.
  4. If needed, your Talent Partner can select and implement a candidate tracking system. At acework we can easily integrate into your ATS or provide you access to ours.

How do we do it at acework?

We work closely with clients, and together we develop the ideal candidate profile and align it with the company value proposition. Then we create a sourcing strategy, which we adjust based on market feedback throughout the project until you onboard your new team member. We follow- up and take care of the candidate’s experience from beginning to end, and that’s how we actually build long-lasting relationships with candidates as well.

We usually embed our Talent Partners into companies looking to make confident hiring decisions in collaboration based on good preparation, selection and structured assessments. 

How To Optimize Your Hiring Results During A Market Slowdown

A great Talent Partner continues to deliver value

Even after finishing a hiring project with an embedded recruiter, their service will continue to deliver value. You’ll still receive valid candidate recommendations to help build your talent network. The Talent Partner worked closely with your leadership team and with a clear understanding of your business priorities, budget, tech stack and challenges. This enables them to stay on the lookout for relevant candidates even after the initial project has been completed.

Having a Senior Talent Partner embedded into your systems and workflows provides solid talent intelligence data. The regular touch points and their market feedback enable you to constantly evolve your hiring strategy.

💡 Whether you have a dedicated in-house team or your C-level is handling all, having a team of subject-matter experts auditing and challenging your talent strategy holistically is a well-recommended shortcut to making wise hiring decisions that result in a strong ROI.

At acework, we specialize in simplifying global recruitment for businesses. Our extensive candidate pool, proven hiring playbook, and experienced team of senior talent partners all over the world allow organizations to expand their talent pools and tap into a diverse and global workforce faster.

Our strategic advisory services enable organizations to gain deep insight into the talent landscape and develop sustainable recruitment plans that drive action. We manage the entire sourcing and outreach process, providing invaluable feedback, market insights, and a compelling employer value proposition to attract top talent.

Whether you’re building a remote-first or hybrid team or seeking talent for your local hub, acework is your trusted recruitment and talent acquisition partner.

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