Recruiting During an (Almost) Recession

May 23, 2022

We’ve seen more than nine thousand employees laid off from dozens of companies across multiple industries in the last few weeks. Our news feeds have been bombarded with talk of hiring freezes, mass layoffs, and even a possible recession.

Depending on who you ask, however, these concerns are either not panicked enough or completely overblown. While 68% of CEOs surveyed by the The Conference Board expect the Federal Reserve’s war on inflation to trigger a recession, financial soothsayers like the S&P Global say there is only a 35% risk of recession in the next year.

At the same time, tech giants (Meta & Twitter) have instituted hiring freezes and others (Netflix & Peloton) have announced layoffs. Other economic indicators like unemployment insurance have ticked up ever so slightly and inflation is persistent at a 40-year high, all of which is contributing to the general feeling that something unsettling is happening in the economy. 

From great resignation to great layoffs in 6 months

Preparing for the storm

So, are we entering a recession? Maybe. Will we see more large-scale layoffs? Maybe. Has all of this cooled the temperature of the tech recruiting market? Definitely. 

Unless you’re working in FAANG (MAANG?) or any of the big tech adjacent companies that saw large influxes of venture capital money, you probably aren’t seeing many ripples in your company financials….yet. Most small-to-medium-size technology companies are still battling with the fallout of the Great Resignation. Even with talk of a recession, tech talent is still incredibly scarce with unemployment at an all time low. Your team is ready to grow and you still need to source talent in a market where most people are staying put. Whichever way the wind blows, there are some actionable steps you can take to successfully navigate hiring during an *almost* recession. 

1. Strike while the iron is hot (or cold?)

Inflation is hovering at a hefty 8% and gas prices are still on the rise. Layoffs are everywhere and people are generally unsure about the state of the global economy. It makes sense that many hiring managers are taking all of these indicators as a sign to pause hiring. According to tech recruiting experts, waiting until the economy recovers may be the wrong move. Tech talent is already consistently scarce but the mass hiring sprees of large tech companies in 2021 created an ever more drastic shortage of qualified candidates. Now that the hangover is setting in for those companies and they’re hiring less, this is the best possible time for small-to-mid sized tech companies to woo candidates that have been left out in the cold.

2. Get creative with your candidate sourcing

On top of directly reaching out to recently laid off candidates, there's a wider opportunity to diversify your pool of candidates by finding new referral sources. Companies like Underdog.io have been sourcing qualified candidates for the better part of a decade. Partnering with specialized recruiting-tech companies may help you punch through the noise and reach the candidates your team needs to scale. This is also a great time to double down on your employer branding. Help job seekers understand why your company is so special. Recruiting is a team effort so use this as an opportunity to encourage your team to become brand ambassadors. Now more than ever, candidates want to know that they are joining a company with promise and stability so don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. Or LinkedIn is fine too.

3. People first, every time

If the last two years have taught us anything, it's that employees are no longer interested in the status quo. Remote and hybrid work have become the law of the land. Salaries have grown exponentially and workers are demanding increased flexibility and work-life balance. According to a survey of 1,200 tech workers, 72% of employees are willing to leave their jobs due to limited career progression, job burnout, lack of learning opportunities, and generally feeling underappreciated at work. It's worth mentioning that compensation and benefits didn’t crack the top ten reasons why tech workers leave their jobs. At the core of this shift in workplace dynamics is a plea from workers to be listened to. Fostering a workplace culture that produces happy and engaged employees can improve productivity by up to 20%. Putting people first –listening to their needs and doing what you can to provide for them – is always a great strategy to retain and attract the best talent.

Whatever comes next, the entire tech industry should be prepared to dig our collective heels in and weather the storm together. Whether we’re facing a full-blown economic recession or a smaller-scale tech contraction, real people will be affected by the decisions that recruiters and hiring managers make. By taking advantage of opportunities in the market, getting creative with your sourcing, and putting your team first, you can be sure that your team will be well-equipped to weather any (potential) storm.

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