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Tough Times? Let Your Inner Recruiting Consultant Out

When your company is going through a big change, especially if it hits the news, you have a new recruiting challenge. And with everything going on, your hiring manager may not even be thinking about how this change could influence how candidates feel about taking a new position at your company.

The changes could be layoffs, new business model or changes in business direction, acquisitions and/or mergers, being on the block to be sold, loss of funding, new funding, etc.

While the role you’re recruiting for may not be directly impacted by this change, many candidates will not be able to make that distinction and tend to see it as company-wide. They are likely to be concerned and confused about what their future might be at the company. In the absence of information, candidates will come to their own conclusions—and not often the ones we want them to have.

At a minimum, it will probably deter some potential candidates for a while depending on how long it takes to implement the change or for it to stop making the evening news!

Share your strategy for dealing with this situation with the hiring manager (and perhaps your HRBP as well):

Because of the likelihood of perceived “company-wide” impact, it may be a good marketing strategy to address this change right up front, so we tell the candidates in our words what is happening, why and how it will improve things.

Explain how being upfront and out in front with this information will benefit the company and the candidate flow as well.

Here are some questions to discuss with your hiring manager:

  • What do you as the hiring manager for this position think the “official” explanation of the change should be for your candidates?
  • What makes this “a good strategic move” for the company?
  • What would you tell candidates about how this will and/or will not impact their career?

I was recently engaged to do a search for a COO for a large company which was a subsidiary of a worldwide company. During the course of the search, someone sent me a link to an article disclosing the company was actually on the block to be sold. This was the reason he was not willing to consider the position.

When I asked the Talent Acquisition Director the questions above, she responded, “I cannot address rumors in the press.” This was far beyond a rumor in the press; the investment company that was conducting the sale was named and the parent company CEO was quoted in the article.

Because there wasn’t an official explanation, and it was not appropriate for me to make one up, some of the best candidates were unwilling to come to the table. We even lost the front runner candidate.

The fact no one wanted to address the situation made it look more negative than it ultimately turned out to be. It’s always best, in my opinion, to discuss these things with the hiring manager and perhaps your HRBP as well. And of course you get to let out your inner recruiting consultant at the same time!

For more techniques to meet 17 challenges recruiters face— and build a reputation as a consultative recruiter at the same time, check out my updated book on Amazon: The Consultative Recruiter. 

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