Online Exclusive: Seven Tips for Recruiting in a Downturn

Every day, it seems we’re inundated with the newest evidence that the economic crisis has become a meltdown or, quite possibly, a depression. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity to be had.

Companies haven’t stopped looking for good workers. What they are doing is taking time to assess their current staff, as well as evaluate future hiring needs. In addition, employers are raising their expectations and standards as well as their selection process for new hires. Any new positions created are the result of careful business planning and are thus less risky for both employers and candidates alike.

There’s no doubt that there have been significant shifts in hiring. Business needs have changed. But what hasn’t changed is that recruiting efforts and investing in talent is still essential to the success of any organization. Given this difficult economic time, here are seven hiring and staffing suggestions:

• Keep recruiting on the radar. There’s a wealth of talent available. The population of available talent has exploded due to layoffs and company closings. This is your opportunity to capture the attention of high quality and stand out candidates.

• Begin dropping the dead wood. Use this time to get rid of poor and mediocre workers that were hired during your “gold rush”. Replace them with top producers.

• Don’t underestimate your staffing needs. There’s a tendency to under-staff when times are tough. For example, if your project takes five employees don’t cut it to three. Trying to do more with less can cause stress and low morale resulting in turnover and high costs.

• Reward your best and brightest. Determine what it will take to keep top talent at your firm, i.e. bonuses, perks, etc. The return on investment by rewarding them is high since valuable employees are your best chance for survival.

• Keep compensation fair and competitive. In a down economy, you may feel the urge to under-compensate because you can. Resist the urge since there’s a real risk to this strategy. When the economy rebounds and compensation is on the rise, get ready to pay significantly or lose your employee(s).

• Refrain from hiring now only to layoff later. There isn’t anything worse than hiring today only to lay them off a few months later because of a lack of planning. Identify your hiring needs and skills required to complete the job at hand. Continue to define position and criteria until you are confident that you can keep the new hire aboard for a year or more.

• Make the case for branding. There is value to building your brand even in this climate. A strong brand will make attracting and hiring high caliber candidates more likely today and in the future.

This article was contributed by Direct Recruiters, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based search firm for candidates in automated packaging and material handling systems. For more information, contact Dan Charney, managing partner at 440-248-3370 x110 or at dan@directrecruiters.com.

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