How Talent Acquisition Can Add Value in a Hiring Freeze or Slowdown

How talent acquisition teams can leverage a hiring freeze to be stronger than ever when hiring picks back up.

A hiring freeze or slowdown can stall your talent acquisition efforts, which can be jarring, especially when you’ve been going flat out. But a pause is also an opportunity to do project-based recruiting work and fine-tune your hiring processes. So you’re positioned better than ever after the slowdown or hiring freeze ends.

Here are some projects if you’re looking for ways to add value during a hiring freeze or slowdown. They’re more significant than they appear, and completing them (or any one of them, really) will take some work. But your talent pipeline will be much stronger when hiring picks up again. Which it will.

How talent acquisition can add value during a hiring freeze

  1. Update job ad templates and boilerplate copy.
  2. Create more inclusive job ads.
  3. Clean up ATS data.
  4. Optimize workflows for job ads
  5. Connect with hiring managers.

1. Update job ad templates and boilerplate copy

Job ad templates ensure content and employer brand consistency across all jobs, create positive candidate experiences, and provide peace of mind for talent acquisition teams. They ensure that you’re speaking with a single voice across all your job ads. 

More specifically, job ad templates save hiring teams from creating job ads from scratch or copying and pasting old ads (that often have outdated copy). The boilerplate copy you use for your job ads (e.g., the info on your company, benefits, and diversity stance) saves hiring teams a lot of time when writing ads. But you still have to update your templates and boilerplate copy from time to time.

Job seeker attitudes are changing, and they want to read job ads that speak to them as people, not just potential candidates. If your job ads don’t put the candidate first (i.e., they’re all about you), they could use an update. And if you don’t have custom templates for different types of jobs (e.g., for specific locations, seniority levels, and departments), you could build some. A hiring freeze or slowdown gives you time to get these ready for upcoming recruiting efforts.

2. Create more inclusive job ads

Every hire counts during a slowdown, especially if you’re only hiring for critical roles. It’s vital to cast as wide a net as possible to attract qualified candidates, quickly. So once your templates are inclusive and attractive, make sure your job ads themselves are inclusive too.

Inclusivity efforts are often some of the first things to go when companies cut costs, unfortunately. Meanwhile, if your company has taken even more drastic measures and introduced layoffs, women and minorities may have been hurt the most. (They tend to work functions deemed “non-essential” like human resources or public relations.) It’s a double whammy. So if there’s ever a time to be intentional about inclusive hiring, it’s during a slowdown.

Inclusive job ads check a number of boxes. A slowdown or hiring freeze is an opportunity to make sure yours are checking (or still checking) all the right boxes. 

Box 1: Inclusive job ads are accessible. That means they use an industry-standard title that job seekers can understand and find in job board searches. They’re also published widely wherever potential candidates are looking for them (including on both common job boards like LinkedIn and niche job boards like FlexJobs). 

Box 2: Inclusive job ads are also clear. They’re clear about the job, the requirements, and the responsibilities. They include a diversity statement, benefits, and perks so job seekers can understand your company and culture.

Box 3: And, of course, inclusive job ads are welcoming to everyone. Their language is unbiased and broad, casting as wide a net as possible. They make job seekers feel comfortable to apply, no matter how they look, talk, love, or anything else.

3. Optimize workflows for job ads

Every company does job ad workflow a little differently, but most use one of two approaches. One, job ads sit outside the rest of the recruiting workflow. Two, job ads sit inside the recruiting workflow. 

If you’ve been on wild goose chases for job ad copy, you already know the pain of the first approach. It means not finding job ads or knowing which one is up-to-date because they’re stored in multiple programs (e.g., Gmail, Google Docs). It means inconsistency, errors, missing information, back and forths with hiring managers, and more headaches.

Siloing job ads from the rest of your recruiting process hinders your ability to scale meaningfully and make the best use of your team’s resources. A slowdown or hiring freeze is a great opportunity to un-silo them. You can do that by using the second approach above – incorporating recruitment software into your workflow. 

Job description software puts all of your jobs into a central repository, which means no more wild goose chases. (Apologies if you’re a fan.) It also integrates with your ATS, so you don’t have to leave your most familiar platform. (Actually, with Chrome extensions you don’t have to leave other platforms like LinkedIn Recruiter either.) In short, job description software will reduce the steps in your recruiting workflow when the slowdown or hiring freeze ends.

4. Clean up ATS data

Your hiring team may not jump at the idea of data cleaning, but it’s really important. Bottom line, inaccurate data leads to incorrect assumptions, missed hiring goals for recruiters, and flawed strategic decisions for talent acquisition leaders. Data cleaning is the only way to get clear insights from your ATS.

Managing recruiting data well means that everyone on the hiring team has to learn basic data management techniques and use best practices at all times. Actually, some talent acquisition teams are already incorporating basic data cleaning into job responsibilities. Some are even incentivizing data cleaning by adding it to key performance indicators. 

Your talent acquisition folks need to understand your ATS’s limitations (i.e., it doesn’t make leaps in logic) and quirks (e.g., it doesn’t do bulk rejects). They also have to understand that the devil is in the details. (For example, they have to attach specific candidates to specific jobs and move them through every hiring stage in real time to get the full pipeline picture.)

Here’s a few data cleaning tips:

  • Collect full pipeline data for every requisition
    • Move candidates through stages in real time (including from active to rejected) and close jobs post-hire
  • Use enough data to be significant
    • Compare 10 jobs against each other, not 2
  • Separate data thoughtfully
    • Segment by industry, location, seniority level, job type, et cetera
  • Remove random outliers
    • Evergreen jobs, internal hires, and more can skew your analytics
  • Use median calculations instead of mean calculations
    • Nerdy, yes, but important to mitigate outliers

5. Connect with hiring managers

You probably never have time for connecting meaningfully with your hiring managers. Even though learning more about your hiring managers, their teams, and how they all work together can benefit your recruiting process

A successful recruiting effort relies on an inclusive job ad and an efficient workflow. Connecting with hiring managers during a hiring freeze or slowdown can help with both of those things. You can educate hiring managers on best practices (e.g., inclusive language, appropriate length, clear requirements), help them eliminate clunky workflows, and more. 

While you’re learning about your hiring managers and their teams, you’re also making them more efficient. Which will help when you open new roles for them in the future. And will ultimately lead to reduced time to fill and more qualified, diverse candidate pools.

How talent acquisition can crush a hiring freeze or slowdown

Sure, a slowdown or hiring freeze can temporarily bog down your talent acquisition efforts. But a pause is an opportunity to make those efforts more efficient and effective. Start by updating your job ad templates and ensuring your job ads are inclusive. Then clean ATS data, rethink workflows, update job ad templates and boilerplate copy, and connect with hiring managers. 

These often-overlooked parts of your hiring process can determine whether you meet or miss your hiring goals. By revisiting your internal processes now, you’re setting yourself up for success when hiring picks up again. Which it will.

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