Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hiring in a down Economy

OK....let's not debate about whether the economy is in a "recession" or "depression"....or whatever you want to acknowledge. Let's just say the economy is "down" a bit right now.

Many companies that I talk with are either downsizing, freezing new hiring, or (gulp) even closing their doors. So why hire during a down Economy? What are the potential benefits?

Here are some things I've observed:

1. It is a GREAT time to get the BEST candidates. While the market is apparently flooded with candidates, many of the "best" candidates are still employed....but they are nervous about their current employer laying off others. It is a great time to find those high level employees that you've been courting for years. Everyone gets nervous about lay-offs...even those who make it through the cuts. Often times their work load is increased...sometimes unreasonably.

2. Salary....the great divider! Let's face it, salaries fluctuate with the market - simple economics (supply and demand). Down economies do a couple of things. First, they bring the average salaries back into that "real" zone. You've all seen it....when the economy and job market is good and candidates are scarce....sometimes you have to "over-pay". Second, this is a great time to emphasize other benefits and positives that your company has. Salary is always going to be a factor to candidates, but they really do look for MORE! Now is a great time to show off your benefits, insurance, retirement, bonus packages, company culture, etc. Show a potential employee your stability and commitment, and that will go a lot further than just a few thousand more per year.

3. Show strength. Nothing shows strength like a company that is still hiring during a tough economic patch. Hiring will not only show your current employees that you are still planning for and working towards the future, but will also show new prospects that you are in it for the "long haul". Looking for new employees also gets your name out there and improves your visibility (to potential employees, customers, and your competition).

4. Refine your hiring process. It is a great time to focus on what really works in your internal hiring process. When you are franticly looking for a candidate, sometimes you lose track of what is really effective. Here are some things to think about: how attractive and realistic are my job descriptions?; how do i find my best employees? (postings, social networks, employee referrals, recruiters); how many interviews are really necessary?; what questions am I asking in the interview and why?; how well do I explain our benefits/intangibles? There are lots of ways to step back and take a look at what is really helping you find and hire the best people. Don't lose great candidates in a time consuming, blah-blah process.

Finally, don't get me wrong....I'm not saying run out there and hire unnecessarily for one of the reasons discussed above. But, even hiring during a down market can pay great dividends for the short and long term in making your business a success.

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