The global economic climate is in a precarious state, with experts now predicting a 70% likelihood that the U.S. will enter a recession this year. No doubt, this news is unsettling for business owners. But it’s important to remember that recessions are a natural part of ongoing economic cycles. They can even present opportunities for organizational growth and resilience if you know how to capitalize on them.
So, how can leaders navigate today’s challenges and emerge even stronger on the other side? By strategically hiring in a recession. If you want to build bench depth on your team during tough times, here are three strategies to consider:
3 Strategies for Hiring in a Recession
1. Go Global With Remote Hiring
We’re in a much different position now than during The Great Recession of 2008. So is the global workforce. Thanks to technological advances and the prevalence of remote work models, it’s much easier now for hiring managers to tap into the vast global talent pool.
Compared with local hiring strategies, seeking out top talent internationally offers multiple advantages. Not only can you gain access to a much larger source of candidates, but you can also achieve significant overhead cost savings if you hire people in locations where labor costs are lower.
In addition, sourcing job candidates from around the world can help you develop a much more diverse team. If you are careful to hire skilled professionals, an international approach can inject your work culture and business deliverables with fresh perspectives. This can help your business operate more effectively and efficiently while supporting long-term growth.
That said, hiring globally isn’t without its challenges. To succeed, hiring managers need to be aware of hiring laws and regulations in their chosen countries, as well as cultural differences. It’s also important to ensure that hiring practices are fair and equitable, regardless of where potential employees may be located.
The importance of remote work leadership also needs to be taken into consideration here. Your organization should be prepared to develop and support management skills and practices that will help remote teams stay connected, engaged and motivated.
2. In an Era of Mercenaries, Focus on Your Missionaries
The last few years have been like a game of musical chairs for the labor market. The Great Resignation resulted in 44% of workers hopping from job to job, searching for higher pay, better benefits, and more flexible work options.
This led to a new trend known as “mercenary hiring,” where employers use inflated compensation packages to recruit highly skilled candidates without regard for the company’s mission or culture. However, this recruiting practice can be very risky. While it may be an effective way to attract top talent in a tight labor market, it can also lead to increased workforce churn and damage company culture.
Fortunately, there’s an antidote to mercenary hiring. Hire “missionaries” instead. Focus on people who share a passion for your company’s mission, purpose, vision, and values. These job seekers are more likely to invest in long-term success with your organization, so they’ll also be more invested in your company’s growth.
Of course, it’s one thing for employers to identify, attract and hire these “missionaries.” But it’s even more important to focus on creating an environment that nurtures them and encourages them to thrive. For example, this can include competitive salaries, consistent recognition, and generous professional development opportunities, as well as incentives like flexible scheduling and remote work options.
3. Find Opportunity in Adversity
The hiring landscape may have changed, but one thing remains the same: Hiring during a recession is an opportunity to tap into highly qualified talent you might not find as easily during better economic times.
During the last recession, the U.S. lost 2.6 million jobs. And in 2022, we began seeing some very prominent companies announcing major layoffs. While this news can be disturbing, hiring managers should see it as an opportunity to find the best and brightest talent amidst the chaos.
History has shown us some iconic instances of hiring when the job market was at low ebb. For example, in the 1940s, Hewlett-Packard famously capitalized on the closure of military labs to beef up its workforce. And during one of the nation’s worst 16-month economic cycles, Microsoft took the initiative to hire some of its most influential engineers. Both cases offer powerful business lessons.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Here are the three key takeaways to keep in mind about hiring in a recession:
1. Top Talent is Only a Zoom Call Away
With the rise of remote work and virtual hiring tools, it’s easier than ever to find top talent in all corners of the world. Don’t limit your search to local candidates. Consider expanding your talent acquisition reach to a global scale. This can open you to a broader pool of qualified, motivated candidates while giving you access to diverse skills and experiences.
2. Resilience in Hiring is More Than Just Hiring More People
In a recession, it’s important to be strategic about who you recruit. Look for individuals who share your goals and understand your company’s mission. People who sincerely want to advance your agenda are much more likely to stay with your company during difficult times. Focus on building a team of dedicated employees who are willing to be flexible during uncertain times. This will help you weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.
3. When Others Freeze Hiring, Be Bold
During a recession, it can be tempting to react with a hiring freeze. Although that approach may save costs in the near term, it is also likely to be a mistake. Investing in talent during tough economic times can set you apart from competitors and position you for success in the long term. Don’t be afraid to be brave and continue investing in your team, even when times are tough. This can help retain your best existing employees, while also helping you attract strong new talent. That combination can build the foundation your company will need to drive future growth.
Overall, the key to successful hiring in a recession depends on three factors – your ability to be adaptable, strategic, and focus on building a team that is willing and able to weather the storm with you. By keeping these principles in mind, you can navigate even the toughest hiring climate and make your organization more resilient in the face of any economic downturn.