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Converting an Economic Downturn Into an Opportunity for Hiring Top Talent

Hiring Trends 3rd August 2022
Converting an Economic Downturn Into an Opportunity for Hiring Top Talent

Whatever industry you’re in, during times of uncertainty it’s all too easy to de-prioritise people and hiring. But making sure your talent strategy remains a priority can contribute to businesses not only surviving the storm, but also coming out of it stronger. Let’s face it, economic downturns are inevitable, and recessions happen every 10 to 12 years on average.

The effects on businesses are felt in different ways. Some find themselves entirely unprepared for the consequences. On the other hand, some use the climate as an opportunity to seize an advantage over their competitors.

Think about hiring top talent for the long-term

If the thought of an economic downturn makes you nervous, remember you’re not alone. Business leaders across the globe will be experiencing the same emotions. Many will see the current situation as a time to exercise caution or even press the pause button when it comes to hiring.

However, a Harvard Business Review during the 2008 global financial crisis cited one of the top three effective responses as ‘the selective hiring of high-performing employees’. Furthermore, Hewlett-Packard has called its willingness to find top talent regardless of the external economic climate to be the most significant contributor to its global success.

Think of hiring during this time – or any time – as a long-term investment, not as a risk. You may well be able to steal gains over those competitors who are sitting tight, waiting for an upturn.

Be creative

Economic downturns can be a nervous time for employees and business leaders. Moving roles or companies may seem like a risk during such a climate, and many may think it safer to stay put. Equally, where top talent may be affected by organisational restructures there is more opportunity to engage candidates more open to considering a move than before.

It may not be a time for taking risks, but it’s certainly a time for thinking flexibly. Reassess the kind of package you can give to any potential employee. For example, if you’ve previously insisted on having an office-based workforce, consider hybrid, flexi-time and flexible working options. In 2022, one thing most job seekers demand and expect is choice.

Remember also that running a hiring campaign during a downturn can show others that your business is in good health. The hiring process indicates that your brand is growing and can offer security for future candidates. And if you haven’t done so, now is the perfect time to consider diversity hiring! With more thought and attention going into every hire, widening your potential talent pool to capture the very best candidate is essential.

React to changes in the job market

A little knowledge of job markets during economic downturns can prove extremely useful when hiring top talent. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the onus shift from an employer market to a candidate-led one. Firms have had to become more imaginative when establishing points of difference between themselves and their competitors.

This balance of power may well shift during a downturn. With fewer opportunities available, in-demand candidates may be more likely to consider your organisation than was the case previously. Reward expectations and packages may also stabilise, meaning business leaders have a bigger chance of success when competing for talent against other organisations.

Review your business strategy

If your business plan hasn’t accounted for a period of economic downturn, consider reviewing your immediate strategy. It’s typical for forecasts to be optimistic, but riding out tough economic times is merely part of the more expansive game.

When reassessing your business strategy, try to avoid any cost-cutting exercises that will affect potential growth, or employee morale. Your people are your greatest asset and organisations should think twice before letting their people go. Using the opportunity to upskill your existing workforce and considering internal redeployment programmes will give you the edge when market conditions shift again. After all, it is your people who build your business and your products – don’t underestimate their value.

Hire a talent acquisition specialist

The recruitment industry is old enough to have experienced economic downturns and upturns. A talent acquisition specialist will understand that different approaches are required when hiring top talent in tricky conditions.

A great talent acquisition strategy can make all the difference to your business. By streamlining your hiring processes, reviewing your DE&I strategies and improving your EVP, you can be sure to appeal to the high calibre individuals your organisation needs to build back better.


No one can predict the future, but one thing is for sure – companies that continue to hire top talent during economic downturns are placing themselves in the best possible position to succeed.

At Elements, we’re leading the charge to professionalise talent acquisition. We’ve created a radically new operating model called Embedded Talent Consultancy. It is built on the needs of 21st-century organisations capable of faster growth than ever before.

Contact us today and discover how we can secure the talent your business is missing.

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