Step 2: Keep the hiring pipeline full.
Beyond adjusting your hiring schedule, you also have to adapt your
sourcing tactics for slow recruitment periods. Why? Because waiting
for people to submit applications in a hiring slowdown is like
waiting for rain during a drought. The rain may eventually come, but
you have to find other sources of water in the meantime. To prevent
your pool of applicants from drying up, get creative about sourcing
using your ATS and employee roster.
Reconnect with past candidates
Past candidates were at one time excited about working for your
company—and they still probably are. Your pipeline isn’t overflowing
with candidates, so now is the time to reach out to these people who
have previously shown interest in working for your company.
It’s easy for your hiring team to review former applicants since
they already have profiles in your ATS. Using your tool’s database, you can quickly
assess whether former applicants would be a good fit for your open
Follow these steps to evaluate profiles of past candidates and reconnect with
candidates who are a strong fit.
Search through your ATS's database using keywords and filters
that match your current openings.
Organize the profiles of candidates who are a strong fit in a
separate folder in your ATS.
Review their profile details, and take notes on their strengths,
weaknesses, and career goals.
Pick up the phone and give these candidates a call. Explain why
your current opportunities would be a good match for them based on
the details in their profiles.
Even if these candidates decide not to apply, reconnecting with them
during a slowdown is still worthwhile. They’ll feel more comfortable
contacting you the next time they’re seeking a job, and they’re more
likely to recommend your company to job seekers in their own
Fill priority roles with internal candidates
Like recruiting past candidates, internal hiring is a fast, easy
alternative for sourcing applicants during a slowdown.
Hiring existing employees for new roles is always faster than hiring
outside applicants. Your company already has their information on
file, which eliminates the need for lengthy application paperwork.
Plus, internal candidates can be vetted quickly since their current
managers can serve as immediate references.
With that said, internal hiring should never be done lightly. It
comes with trade-offs that can seriously impact your business, such
as slowing down a product timeline if a critical team member moves
to a new role within the company. Before internal hiring happens,
there needs to be a discussion amongst leadership about whether an
open role is critical enough to fill internally.
If your company decides that internal hiring is the right call, you
can encourage employee applications in the following ways:
Ask hiring managers if there are any specific team members they
have in mind for a role. Find out which department each potential
candidate belongs to, and contact the heads of those departments to
start a conversation about a potential transition. If the switch
seems feasible, you can reach out to the employee to discuss the
Keep employees updated on your current job openings. For example,
you might send an email memo announcing available positions to
employees. You could also create an internal job board, where
employees can view openings that the company wants to fill with
Internal hiring can be disruptive, but its speed and ease make it
worthwhile in a hiring slowdown. Instead of waiting for the right
outside applicant, you can quickly move an employee who is a great
fit through the hiring process.
Step 3: Nurture your recruiting knowledge and network.
Still twiddling your fingers? Make the most of your relaxed slowdown
schedule by building your skills and networking. Both activities
will prepare you to fill your pipeline with strong candidates once
applications pick up again.
Build your knowledge with your recruiting team
Recruiting is a constantly changing field. New terminology crops up
at every conference, the job market is prone to fluctuations, and
there are always new tools to learn (anyone else remember
Rolodexes?). In this dynamic environment, the best recruiters are
the ones who constantly build their professional knowledge.
The ideal time to sharpen your sword is a hiring slowdown. With
fewer candidates to monitor, you have more time to strengthen your
Last year, for example, I decided to introduce a new hiring tool to
my team right around the holidays. Our pipeline wasn’t overflowing
with candidates, so the change wasn’t disruptive. We had the time to
learn how to use the tool, figure out how it could benefit our
hiring processes, and integrate it into our workflow.
Make the most of your slowdown by building your knowledge and skills
with other recruiters on your team:
Sign up for online-recruiting courses with your team. The
elearning sites Lynda.com
and Udemy are
affordable and typically offer multiple recruiting courses.
Attend an educational recruiting meetup. Use the site
Meetups to find local
events and presentations about recruiting and other HR topics.
Read a book about your company’s industry. The more you understand
the role your organization plays in the industry, the better you
can evaluate candidates’ skills and experience. Use the site Five Books to find the best books about your
Take advantage of your hiring slowdown by learning, along with your
team of recruiters, about hiring and your company’s industry. The
educational experience will help you hire candidates more
efficiently in the future, and it will give you and your coworkers
an opportunity to bond.
Network, network, network
Networking is the single most important task you can do as a
recruiter. You’re not just opening up doors to future job
opportunities for yourself—you’re also expanding your talent pool.
The more potential candidates you meet, the easier it will be to
fill openings down the line.
Recruiters should network throughout the year, but it especially
makes sense to do so during a slowdown. With fewer candidates in the
pipeline, there is more time to grab coffee with professional
More importantly, you have a chance to build authentic professional
relationships during a hiring slowdown. You won’t be asking your
contacts for anything, such as talent recommendations, since the
pressure to fill roles is low. Instead, without any ulterior motive,
you can focus on getting to know people in your network. If you
build professional relationships with this sincerity, you’re more
likely to receive help from your contacts when you do need a favor.
Take advantage of your slow hiring season by nurturing your network
with these tips:
Schedule a recurring event in your calendar. If you don’t build
networking into your schedule, just as you would other professional
meetings, you’re probably not going to make time for it. Mark
networking in your calendar so you’re consistently reminded to
nurture your professional relationships. This regularity has worked
well for me in the past. For an entire year, I committed to grabbing
coffee or having a phone call once a week with a professional
contact. When I was job hunting later in my career, I had about 175
people in my network who I was able to contact and ended up with 35
job interviews. The nurturing paid off.
Network far and wide. Anyone and everyone could ultimately be a
valuable professional contact. Consider every area of your life—your
college network, past coworkers, fellow recruiters—to find people
who could provide professional guidance and support.
Don’t forget to follow up. When you meet a new professional
contact, send a LinkedIn invite and email within a few days to kick
off the relationship. For existing contacts, it’s also useful to
send an email after you meet to nurture the relationship and keep it
If you aren’t already regularly networking, a hiring slowdown is the
ideal time to build that muscle. Use your downtime to build genuine
professional relationships and you’ll be more likely to receive
responses from your network when you do need advice or candidate