So, the UK isn’t doing too well at the moment. You might have noticed. From an on-going cost of living crisis and spiralling stagflation, to the looming threat of a recession, everyone is tightening their belts and finding cost-cutting solutions just to get by.

We are experiencing an economic downturn, brought about by the twin shocks of COVID-19 and Brexit. Even those who cling to hope might be re-evaluating their position following recent news of layoffs and job cuts – especially those affecting tech companies.

Sorry – I am not trying to be a killjoy – just taking stock of the reality of the situation. Its likely that for many of you reading this, you have already felt the sting of these problems – at least personally if not professionally. But for hiring managers or recruiters, you’ll probably be expecting that soon – if not already – your company will look to pause recruitment and announce a hiring freeze.

What is a Hiring Freeze?

A hiring freeze is a tactic employed by organisations of all sizes and across all sectors when struggling financially or trying to deal with wider economic problems.

This usually means that all recruitment is on hold for a specific timeframe, and no new employees are being hired by that organisation.

How Can Recruiters Respond to a Hiring Freeze?

So, what do you do when that happens?

The first steps are obviously to press pause on any roles you were looking to hire for, and to stop accepting any new applications. After that you’ll need to reach out to any potential candidates in your hiring pipeline and let them know about the situation.

But what then? Your normal recruitment responsibilities, from sourcing candidates to screening applicants are now on hold. But you can’t just down tools. The fast paced world of a recruiter may now be slowing down for the time being, but now you have time ahead of you – how are you going to fill it? How are you going to stay productive and ensure that you can still meet your hiring goals once this freeze has thawed?

Those are all good questions – and luckily, the answer is a positive one: there are a number useful ways that recruiters can spend their time during a hiring freeze that will benefit their organisations in the long-run.

Let’s look at what recruiters and hiring managers can do to respond to a hiring freeze.

Improve Your Employer Brand

We’ve spoken before about the importance of building an employer brand and creating an employee value proposition. As a quick refresher, your employer brand encompasses your reputation and the way you are perceived by potential candidates and the public at large.

This branding connects your organisation’s values, policies, and culture. It is the way you differentiate yourself from your competitors and the way you promote yourself to both current and future employees.

A hiring freeze presents as a perfect opportunity to work on your employer brand – not only because it will help you attract the best talent once the freeze has passed, but also because it will help your current employees feel happier and more likely to stay with your organisation.

Lets explore how you can improve your employer brand from both the perspective of current employees and future candidates.

Tactics for Employees

  1. Look at rewards and recognition: 82% of employees report that recognition is integral to their happiness at work. Could your business do more to recognise the achievements and celebrate the successes of its people? Recognition is a key part driver of good employee experience and high levels of retention, which is essential if you’re not currently bringing in any new hires. Consider setting up a peer-to-peer recognition scheme to that colleagues can appreciate each other – or consider low-cost recognition tools to help the process.
  2. Offer better employee benefits: take stock of the benefits currently offered to those in your organisation and ask – is there anything else we could offer to improve employee experience, wellbeing, and productivity? This might be a good opportunity to review what other businesses are offering and see if anything else can be included in the packages at your company

Tactics for Candidates

  1. Review your social media channels and careers page: use these platforms to share information about what its life to work at your company. Showcase the company culture by sharing pictures of staff working well together or having fun in team-building exercises or volunteering initiatives. Post about the benefits you offer, or your employee recognition scheme. Make jobseekers interested to apply for your positions once you begin hiring again.
  2. Update your templates: are the templates you use for emails and job ads conveying the right message to reflect your brand proposition? Is the language you are using in your communications and job descriptions inclusive and gender-neutral? These templated messages and ads will often be where candidates get their first impression of your organisation. Improving them can have a real impact.

Review Your Hiring Process

If you’re not looking to recruit for any new jobs for the time being, one positive is that you now can assess and improve your hiring process.

There are probably gaps and bottlenecks in your process. Maybe you have already noticed them but haven’t had the opportunity to address them, or perhaps you are now finally able to dig into the data and see what you can improve.

Are you tracking the right hiring metrics? Are you making the most out of your recruitment analytics? Analysing the data can help you improve your recruiting efficiency, lower the cost-per-hire, improve the quality of your hires and increase diversity.

Is it taking too long to screen candidates after the application stage? Look at ways you can automate parts of that process to ensure less time is wasted.

Are candidates dropping out during the interview stage or failing to turn up to interviews altogether? This could highlight an issue with communication with candidates – perhaps your communication lacks clarity or is too irregular and candidates are losing interest in the jobs they were applying for. This is a great time to review your communication strategy and again, consider tools that would help automate some of comms during the hiring process.

Whatever the issue, it will be born out in the data, and you now have an opportunity to fully review how you conduct hiring within your organisation and make corrections where necessary.

Update Your Hiring Tools

As you review your hiring process and highlight issues and bottlenecks, its also a good time to consider: are the recruitment tools are you currently using up to scratch?

Its possible that as you notice the issues in the way you conduct your hiring – if there are bottlenecks in communications, or screening, or in the interview process, it could suggest that the software you are using is not fit for purpose.

For many businesses, even analysing their recruitment data could be a struggle because the software they use doesn’t collect or report on the data effectively.

The hiring freeze offers you an opportunity to plan a digital transformation strategy, if you don’t have one already. You can start to think about the ways in which better software can help you hire more efficiently, through automation, screening tools, job board integration, and a lot more.

If your business does not currently have an applicant tracking system, this current freeze presents a chance for you to really build the case that your business needs to invest in one. They might not be looking to spend any money at the moment, but that also means that they can ill-afford to waste money through inefficiency once your recruitment picks back up again.

If you would like to find out more about how Hireserve’s ATS could boost your recruitment and candidate engagement, book a demo today.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.