How in-house recruiters can stay valuable when hiring slows

When requisitions dry up, it’s a great time to tackle work that will improve talent acquisition processes.
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· 4 min read

Rachel Cupples is a senior corporate recruiter for Textio, an HR software company that removes bias from hiring and workplace language. A recruiting pro for nearly a decade, she keeps a “book of dreams”—a wish list of work she’d like to tackle “in a perfect world, if I had extra time.”

It’s definitely not a perfect world, but lately, she’s had time to check off a few items.

“I currently am not carrying a [requisition] load,” she said, though Textio is still hiring in other departments. “What I’m working on is building diverse talent pools for the future. I’m reaching out to potential future ‘textios’ (that’s what we call ourselves)…and being support to our other two recruiters behind the scenes.”

Industries like tech and finance are facing the consequences of overhiring amid the pandemic. Recruiters are working in uncertain economic times, amid potential layoffs and hiring freezes, disrupting their workflow and adding to worries that future layoffs could affect them.

“Executives lay off people in their organization that they deem unnecessary in a difficult time, and there are things talent acquisition pros can do to be perceived as and to be more necessary,” Laura Mazzullo, East Side Staffing’s founder, said.

Mazzullo, who works with companies to train and develop their recruiters, spoke with HR Brew about what internal recruiting teams can do to make sure top brass knows the many ways talent acquisition brings value to the organization.

Audit the hiring process. Start by reviewing the TA process itself: What works and what doesn’t?

Ensure job descriptions, postings, and interview questions are unbiased, said Mazzullo. Clear competency criteria and interview scorecards can help with the latter, she said, by helping interviewers find the right candidates based on skills rather than gut “fit” and “feel” responses.

Review the candidate experience. Candidates have valuable insight into the hiring process, so reach out to employees hired within the last few years to get a sense of how it went for them.

“Hiring is really a team sport,” Mazzullo said. “I think recruiters feel like they’re wasting time by asking employees these questions, when actually it’s reengaging that employee in the organization and getting them passionate about hiring.”

Recruiters can also reach out or survey candidates not hired by the company, but who made it to the final rounds, for additional insight, Mazzullo suggested.

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Update HR tech. If your team is working on outdated or inefficient recruiting and applicant tracking systems, now is a good time to meet with tech sales reps and do demos and research, said Mazzullo. She suggests outlining for leadership how new systems would benefit recruiting and hiring and why making a switch would put the company in the best position when hiring resumes.

If a tech update isn’t possible, Cupples suggested cleaning up data and job postings and updating templates within your current system.

Pursue ethical pipelining. Recruiting is a relationships business, so don’t stop building relationships with people who might be a good fit with your organization. But do be clear that you’re not currently hiring, Cupples advised.

Network and build relationships with “interesting and dynamic and smart” professionals whose paths you might cross with again when hiring picks back up, Mazzulo said. And take time crafting and A/B testing your messages; doing so, Cupples said, has improved her responses.

Build relationships with hiring managers. Set up informational meetings with hiring managers. Not only can you learn about their future needs (and let’s be honest, their past gripes), but you can learn more about what they do and how they operate to better recruit for them.

“I’m able to spend more time learning about other parts of our business, other departments, other teams, which just makes me a stronger recruiter,” Cupples said.

Mazzullo also suggested talking with marketing about the employer brand. It will make recruiting easier if the company’s mission and values are widely understood and easy to communicate to potential employees.

Meeting across departments helps TA create company-wide allies who better understand the value recruiting brings regardless of the hiring situation.

“To be a true strategic partner, you have to actually partner with other parts of the business, so this is when you can meet,” she said. “When the executive team meets to discuss who to lay off, TA now has all these internal advocates. That’s priceless.”—AD

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Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.