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Expert Tips: Acquiring Talent in a Recession

It seems intuitive that, during a recession, businesses looking to hire new talent would find themselves in a “buyer’s market”. On the surface, this is logical.

In a recessed economy, the idea is to retain only the key personnel that are needed to get by… that it may be time to cut back on “C”-team players. 

EXPERT TIPS: ACQUIRING TALENT IN A RECESSION

Fears of employee turnover may be diminished because, heck, if there is natural attrition it won’t be difficult to replace the employee since you would expect an overabundance of talent in the job market. This perception can lead management into taking their eye off of talent acquisition, leaving it to the Human Resource department. While this might appear to be a prudent strategy, it rarely seems to play out this way. 

The first thing that needs to be understood is that even though there is an ever-increasing number of job-seekers, there simply aren’t enough highly-skilled individuals to go around.

What we’re seeing in Alaska is essentially the opposite. According to Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), Economic Forecast Business Confidence Index Report 58% of the survey responders indicated the availability of professional or technical workforce would be a barrier to business growth. The labor market doesn’t seem to be acting in a way that we might intuitively expect. There’s a disconnect somewhere.

The problem is multi-faceted. The first thing that needs to be understood is that even though there is an ever-increasing number of job-seekers, there simply aren’t enough highly-skilled individuals to go around. Those with in-demand skills and talents are quickly picked up. Often, HR departments don’t move fast enough to compete for these individuals. There’s a strategic disconnect between corporate officers, department leads, and HR when it comes to hiring needs and practices. This disconnect further complicates and slows down the hiring process effectively nullifying their ability to compete for skilled employees. Further, technology and social media have dramatically reordered the labor market, changing the way employers and job seekers find each other. It’s important for businesses to keep this in mind and address these issues head-on.
 

In a 2014 report, Deloitte identified several steps that can be taken in response to talent acquisition challenges set forth by a recession.

  • First, they advise a change in strategy from a “recruiting” mindset to a “marketing” mindset. Businesses need to actively attract talent through a brand which they’ve intentionally cultivated.
  • Second, it’s suggested that businesses broaden and re-evaluate their search. Are there talent pools you’ve overlooked? Are there ones you feel have potential for development? Can you look to other industries for comparable talents and skill sets?
  • Next, it’s important to utilize social media effectively. Facebook is a great first step, but it’s definitely not the only step. Social media can work wonders if it’s leveraged to build communities of interested, talented people as part of a larger shift from “recruiting” to “marketing”.
  • Finally, it’s important to keep recruiting the talent you’ve already got! It’s important to keep employees engaged while they’re in your employ, or you risk losing them to another institution.

These steps aren’t necessarily easy or immediately apparent, and some of them take time and capital. But the costs are small compared to the cost of missing out on talented employees that would make a large contribution to your business’s success. 

– Paula Bradison

Alaska Executive Search CEO & President