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How To Convert Your Hiring Freeze Into A Productive Planning Phase

"Now is the perfect time to take a breath, take stock of your environment and focus on building the car before you get back into it." - Max Encke, Principal, Talentful.

Hiring can slow down or even stop for many reasons, including changes in leadership, mergers and acquisitions, fundraising or, of course, a global pandemic like COVID-19. It’s a surprisingly regular occurrence and one that can often be turned into a positive, increasing your productivity and advancing your talent function. 

As recruitment is often seen as purely transactional and focused on hiring new employees, how do talent acquisition or recruitment teams operate when there is little or no hiring to be done?

The answer is: prepare for busier days! Anyone working in Recruitment can tell you that our life at work is usually pedal to the metal and, in many cases, leaving very little or no time to focus on what really makes our jobs easier.

The saying “building the car while driving it” sums up the talent acquisition life perfectly. We’ve got positions to hire for which generally take top priority, but we’re also trying to improve processes at the same time.

So, your hiring plans have shrunk or even come to a temporary halt. Now is the perfect time to take a breath, take stock of your environment and focus on building the car before you get back into it. 

I see two areas that will draw the most significant focus and impact when getting your car F1-ready:

  1. Begin with improving processes and efficiencies.
  2. Enhance the experience for both the candidate and the hiring team.

Improve your hiring processes and efficiencies with speed:

We’ve all been there, you’re sending out an interview invite to your Hiring Manager or writing an email to update a candidate on a delay in interview proceedings. And you’re manually writing the same email multiple times. So instead, you create a template and wonder why you didn’t do that sooner. This is just a small example of the easy wins you can achieve by reviewing your processes and implementing efficiencies. 

During a slowdown or pause in hiring, you can take this to a much bigger scale.

We’re seeing an increase in talent acquisition functions taking the time to run an audit on their processes and creating action plans for how they’ll bring about improvements.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you get started:

  • Are you using your systems to their potential?
  • Is your ATS set up the way you want?
  • Do you have a structured and consistent process?
  • Do you have SLAs in place for taking job briefs, getting back to candidates, getting feedback from hiring managers, getting offers out?

When you are looking to implement changes, it’s always a good idea to get buy-in and engagement from those who will be impacted. To help you plan, why not organise a workshop or session to figure out where the gaps in your processes are?

Rethink your recruitment strategy to enhance candidate experience:

Having more efficient and impactful processes will, in turn, improve the hiring experience for both candidates and the hiring team, but there is always room to do more!

Again, a quieter time is the perfect opportunity to take a look at how candidates and hiring teams feel during the recruitment processes. Do they enjoy interviewing/recruiting? Or do they come away feeling exhausted and unenthused? 

Ensuring your hiring team is engaged with your recruitment processes means they will be more likely to meet their SLAs, more likely to offer help and generally make your life easier. What this means for your team will depend on them – ask them! Run a workshop or session to figure out their pain points.

Candidate experience has become more and more crucial over the past years and even more so in remote working situations, where you can’t rely on in-person interactions to help. By shaping your processes and making your hiring more efficient, your candidate experience should automatically improve too.

But what can you do to really accelerate this?

How you do this will be very dependent on your business – but explore your options and discover what is possible. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand gesture, doing something minimal but unique and personalised can often have a much more significant impact.

Here are six ways to easily enhance the candidate experience:

  1. Create an information pack to send to candidates entering the recruitment process that gives a clear overview of your company, highlighting your company values, benefits, and leadership team. 
  2. Create a guide for Hiring Managers and interviewers, for example, on how to use your ATS, how to complete scorecards and give feedback. Make their life a little easier!
  3. Send your candidates an email to thank them for their time after their interview.
  4. Invite your candidates to have an informal chat with one of their potential peers to get an “inside look” and a feel for the company culture. 
  5. Once the candidate has signed the contract, send a personalised message welcoming the new employee.
  6. Does your company sell a product? If possible, send something as part of their onboarding experience.
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