7 Ways Talent Professionals Can Drive Business Impact Despite a Hiring Freeze

Pausing hiring efforts may be necessary for a variety of reasons–a product launch wasn’t as successful as projected, wanting to give teams a chance to get fully integrated after a high volume of hiring, or even a global pandemic. A hiring freeze may mean putting a pause on  hiring for non-essential or all open positions as a whole for a certain amount of time. With this, companies are able to consolidate their current staff and potentially restructure to meet the needs of the business and their customers. Whatever the circumstances, a hiring freeze ultimately helps a company to conserve revenue for essential expenses and operations in order to continue to thrive as a business.

This doesn’t mean talent acquisition and recruiting teams are left behind. There are ways to use this time to start strategic projects that positively impact business with your insight and skill set, even when you are not hiring. Here are the top 7 things that you can do to drive business impact and set yourself up for success after a hiring freeze is lifted.

Keep your existing pipeline warm

If a hiring freeze was an unexpected course of action, there may be candidates in your interviewing pipeline that you need to notify. Letting them know your hiring status, as well as the status of their application and candidacy, will require a balance of transparency and empathy. By letting candidates in your pipeline know that a hiring freeze is taking place, a tentative timeline of when your team foresees hiring to pick back up again, and assurance that you or your team will follow up with updates is the best way to retain your candidate pipeline while keeping the conversation and their interest in the opportunity warm.

Engage internal employees

During a hiring freeze, recruiters can work closely with the People team to engage internal employees. Turnover is an aspect of people management that HR teams work to estimate, prevent or lower, and partner with talent acquisition teams to incorporate into recruiting goals. Despite hiring being put on pause, turn over typically continues as expected or might even increase depending on the state of the business and company morale. By partnering with the larger People Ops team, recruiting can support at-risk employees the team identifies and engage different populations to help retain and re-spark their passion for the company. In addition, working closely with company executives to be transparent around business strategy moving forward is especially crucial during this time as a means of supporting your team.

Focus on employer branding

Once a hiring freeze is established, there may be a negative perception of how the business is doing. To remain proactive, consider refreshing your employer brand strategy as a lever towards getting ahead of any negative misconceptions and attract top talent for when you open roles and resume interviewing candidates with the intention of hiring. While a company’s brand can be aspirational, positioning your employer brand through thought leadership, company initiatives, and values helps to build a relatable narrative that your company should be known for. Despite a hiring freeze, don’t hit the brakes on sharing your company’s forward momentum. For distributed teams, a great example would be to amplify ways in which your team has creatively adapted to remote work, approached collaboration and remained diligent about fostering company culture in an effort to maintain a healthy work life balance.  

Also, consider encouraging happy and engaged employees on your team to become promoters of the business which breeds a spirit of pride, ownership, and advocacy for the great work your company is doing. Aligning your employees on company and employer branding can turn your team into brand ambassadors to their network. This offers interested candidates a view of your company that goes beyond corporate branding and marketing but a more personable look into the employee experience from a peer.

Optimize recruiting process

Taking a step back from the ins and outs of your recruiting process can actually allow you to see areas that could be revised and made more efficient. Recruiting teams can take the time to evaluate many areas of their process from application to offer acceptance, not just for efficiency but also, to assure that the process promotes an excellent candidate experience. For instance, going through the application for an open role from a candidate’s perspective could flag hurdles in the process that candidates would experience, such as complications with your ATS systems, resume upload issues, or LinkedIn profile integration errors.

Beyond this, there are various areas of the recruiting process that teams can evaluate, including:

  • Cleaning up processes in your ATS to increase data cleanliness
  • Evaluating your application to improve completion rates
  • Updating careers page and job descriptions to align with talent branding
  • Evaluating recruiting funnel for biases and exclusive language
  • Diving into recruiting metrics, including outreach to lead conversion rates, rejection reasons, time to offer, time to hire, etc.
  • Evaluating recruiting or sourcing tools

Invest in training hiring team members

Having down time from sourcing and interviewing can offer time to evaluate your process and train your interviewers. For recruiting and talent acquisition team members, training or taking certification courses can advance the team’s recruiting strategy and overall professional development. In addition, by training hiring managers and other team members who participate in interviews around efficiencies your team has made in your recruiting process aligns everyone to best represent the company when conducting interviews.

Ensure your recruiting process is inclusive 

Now more than ever, companies are being examined for their commitment towards diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond public statements and surface level efforts. They are evaluated — by the public and their workforce — based on their executive leadership team and how they conduct business day-to-day. As it relates to hiring, take the time to ensure that your recruiting process is inclusive to all candidates who may apply and interview in the future, from the verbiage used in job descriptions to the logistics on how to best conduct an interview.

This is also a great opportunity for teams to undergo unconscious bias training to ensure that both recruiters and interviewers at your company accurately represent your company values during interviews and champion an inclusive hiring process. Unconscious biases may present themselves at any point, even with something as simple as seeing the full name of a candidate on their resume. For example, a person’s name can implicate their sex, ethnicity, and fluency and literacy in English. This can lead to a member of the interviewing team to build stereotypes around the candidate without having met or spoken to them. Evaluating your recruitment and interview processes from beginning to end through the lens of identifying any potential biases can help eliminate additional and unnecessary barriers to entry for qualified talent.

Develop a recruiting plan

As your team anticipates when a hiring freeze could be lifted, having a recruiting plan will ensure the team is ready for when they can begin sourcing and interviewing again. Connect with your hiring managers to identify roles that are an immediate need once the freeze is lifted to best prioritize. As the time gets closer, preliminary sourcing and pipelining quality candidates is a proactive way to get a preview into the active candidate market for these high priority positions. In addition, you can begin to review organic applicants and put your feelers out to your existing pipeline to reignite that interest. Lastly, consider working closely with leadership to establish a tentative timeline so the team can effectively plan their work and OKRs for the coming months. 

Hiring freezes illicit thoughts of uncertainty for many people within a company and for those who are applying. Despite that, a freeze in hiring doesn’t mean that business strategy and talent teams are on a freeze too. Recruiting and talent acquisition teams offer value to the business beyond sourcing and interviewing. When times call for their main priorities to be put on pause, it can offer the team an opportunity to grow together and invest in its team members so they can continue to build strong teams when the time comes.

About the Author

Abbi Nguyen

Abbi Nguyen is a Program Manager at Hired focused on ensuring employers on the platform have the resources and support they need to be successful.