Hiring in a Recession - What You Need to Know



July 3, 2023

Talent acquisition teams may be looking forward to a rest post the crazy, white-knuckled pace of recruiting over the past 12 months, but although a momentary breather is likely deserved, the looming recession is not a reason to abandon your talent acquisition strategy – nor is it good for your business or your job security.

It’s forecasted that many businesses will increase layoffs and slow hiring over the coming months, making now the perfect time to shift your hiring mindset from reactive to proactive.

Anyone working in the recruitment sector through the 2008 recession will attest to the following two things:

  1. Some businesses will panic and eliminate headcount no matter what — this is normal.
  2. Candidates will be less inclined to switch jobs in a vulnerable market.

With these two facts in mind, you can determine how to modify your talent acquisition efforts.

Fortunately, a slowdown in the pace of hiring offers the chance to make some necessary changes — to become more proactive.

Here are a few ways we recommend you get started:

Being More Selective

In the coming months, you’ll likely have more time to pick the best candidate — so take your time. It’s important to find opportunities that maximise the value brought to the position, as well as to broader company goals.

At the job level, work alongside hiring managers to familiarise yourself with the smaller details of any given role.

Ask yourself?

  • What skills make up the skills that are required?
  • What tasks will the individual need to complete daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly?
  • What skills are lacking in the current team?
  • Are there capabilities or characteristics that are desired outside of the skills and knowledge for the role?

At the company level, work to identify what type of candidate will help to progress the organisation’s strategic objectives. For example, is the company working towards creating more leaders? Are the company championing diversity by recruiting from underrepresented talent pools?  Does the company mean to expand its global footprint? Are competitors offering any perks or benefits that the company is currently missing?

When you immerse yourself in the requirements for the position, beyond the job description, you’re able to establish a more thorough set of requirements for the perfect candidate. And when you understand how the role sits within the wider company's strategy, you’re able to ensure that the match will help drive the company towards its overall objectives.

These are proactive steps that will help you select candidates with an increased level of detail, naturally improving engagement and retention for every hire you make in the process.

More Effective Nurturing

In a recession, hiring teams must keep candidates engaged so that their company is always top of mind. This is the perfect time to get more creative with your nurture campaigns.

Research your talent and take the time to perfect your craft: adapt the style of your communication and try new things, change the length and timing of your prose, and work towards making your outreach more personalised.

Try to find out the following:

  • What are your candidates into?
  • What’s their preferred method of communication?

Try to create a message that is so customised for individuals in your network that it won’t work for anyone else.

Now is a great time to consider adopting new tech that can maximize your existing databases. For example, all-in-one recruiting software like Candidly has engagement functionality such as email sequencing and scheduling built in, so that you can target candidates directly, and plan your hyper-personalised comms in advance.

We’re also able to clean up and develop profiles in your database, so you’re able to hold the attention and interest of previously overlooked applicants and create a pipeline that’s ready for the next busy market.

To be successful in your outreach you need to test and experiment – this will set you up for future success.

Understand What Works

Sometimes we have a perception of what is working, but the data tells us a very different story. In a busy market, it can be difficult to find the time to review the information we hold. Now’s the opportunity for hiring teams to analyse what’s worked, what hasn’t, and to identify where knowledge gaps still exist.

Deep dive into your data to review past hires; see what patterns emerge that might help you re-evaluate candidates for the future, and reassess current KPIs.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Did time to hire improve when candidates had to go through fewer interview stages?
  • Were any changes made to the recruitment process that impacted retention?
  • Does the response rate differ depending on the seniority of the role?
  • Were there any commonalities among candidates who stopped engaging with your brand?

Having access to data like average salaries by industry, popular locations for specific jobs, or what might make talent more willing to change jobs, can help you proactively optimise your approach in future.


When working with a  proactive mindset, the worst-case scenario is that you increase your knowledge and increase your capabilities. The best-case scenario is you have candidates ready to join your company even before you’ve even sent your offer letters.

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