Best Practices During a Hiring Freeze

Rachel KennedyBy Rachel Kennedy
November 1st, 2022 • 2 Minutes

Freeze is the other F word.

When sales are down and cost-cutting is paramount, recruiters aren’t posting jobs, reviewing resumes or interviewing. But, what should your recruiters be doing?

Instead of laying off talent acquisition teams during a hiring freeze, redirect them. It’s helpful to keep in mind downturns and hiring freezes are temporary. While hiring is not a priority at this time, you will recruit again, so don’t stop recruiting momentum by freezing up altogether. 

Here are the top seven things in-house recruiting teams can do to keep momentum during this season:

1. Pivot (don’t pause) your content.

“We’re Hiring!” isn’t relevant, but radio silence isn’t ideal either. Instead, build content around the work being done, and the people who are still showing up. Consider writing, “The People Behind the Product”, or do a spotlight on your engineering team. Content spotlights give internal teams pride in their work and help promote employee engagement, which reduces turnover. You still exist and you will recruit again so don’t get behind the curve by pausing all messaging.

2. Dust off your wish list.

Downtimes are optimal for getting to those projects you can never get to during busy seasons. Apply to your own jobs to understand the candidate experience, review your automated email responses and clean up your ATS reqs. This is the foundational (albeit not sexy) work that will move recruiting forward.

3. Level up.

Encourage recruiters to take a copywriting course, attend a sourcing seminar and go through behavioral interview training. Slower seasons are ideal times to get better at the fundamentals of recruiting without the distraction of 47 open reqs.

4. Build a messaging playbook.

Hiring freezes are scary for in-house recruiters and candidates alike. It is important to keep communication lines open in all directions. Company leadership should keep talent acquisition leaders in the loop with what’s happening so they can clearly articulate messages out to candidates. Recruiting teams can partner with marketing and communications to write authentic candidate-facing messages. Develop a script to help candidates understand what’s going on. Consider drafting a response like this: “Our hiring efforts are paused until Q1. I am so sorry for the frustration on your part. We appreciate your patience and will reach out to you in January when we have an update for you! In the meantime, sign up for our Talent Newsletter.” Don’t lose great future candidates due to silence.

5. Connect with your vendors.

Spend slower seasons having meaningful conversations with vendors. This is a great time to talk with your job board, ATS and other tool vendors about reducing your current spend. Since many tools have different features, ask how you can maximize other tools you’ve already invested in at no additional cost.

6. Build your employer brand.

During a layoff, your brand health is likely in decline. When attrition goes up, brand health goes down. This is the time to double down on employer brand efforts like responding to Glassdoor reviews, gathering testimonials and monitoring your social channels.

7. Recruit employees away.

Recruiters have a unique skill set. Allow them to market your employees affected by the layoff for other opportunities. Recruiters can use their skills to counsel employees on how to market themselves through interview tips and resume writing support.

If you are in a hiring freeze, don’t freeze your recruiters.

Recruiters (like all employees) need a sense of purpose and meaningful projects to work on. Downtimes provide an ideal opportunity to keep talented recruiters engaged to move the business forward.

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