In Low Hire Times, Great Recruiting is More Important!

We have been on a great run! A historic run of hiring for about a decade now. That does not happen often. For the most part, over half of the current workforce has never seen a downturn in the economy that was sustained for more than a few months. It has been a heck of a good run.

Over the past decade, recruiting has seen massive evolution and growth. Our technology has improved immensely. Our skills have improved. Our branding and recruitment marketing has improved. At no other point in history has talent acquisition wielded more power than they have over the past decade.

I mean, it almost feels like recruiters have gotten respect! (almost)

Here’s the thing.

With all of this change and growth, we will still have organizational leaders when a downturn hits who believe we can cut recruiting as one of the first things. The axiom is if we aren’t hiring, we don’t need recruiters. That makes logical sense. In reality, we don’t really stop hiring. We just hire way less.

The truth is, when we hire less, each hire takes on much more significance. Our ability to hire really well when we hire fewer increases with importance. We don’t have slack in the system to make bad hires and have them be covered up by all the other hires.

If I have to hire one hundred people per month, leadership assumes some of those will be misses. If I can only hire ten per month, I can no longer have misses! False-positive hires can not happen when you only hire a few.


If times are tough and I only get to hire a few people. Multiple factors are at play. First, my hiring number is small. Second, the business needs great performers to survive and grow. Third, we truly need to know who the great performers are before we hire them. Forth, every low performer that makes it through the process exacerbates our already dire problem.

Bad Times Are Not The Time To Cut Talent Acquisition!

Bad times are the time to double down on ensuring your TA function is humming at maximum efficiency and effort. That your technology is performing exactly as it is supposed to perform. That you have very few false positives, and your Q0H (Quality of Hire) is through the roof. Also, you need to have hunters on your team, not just farmers.

Organizations will get leaner, and TA teams will get leaner. The recruiters who should keep their jobs should not be process jockeys. I can literally hire anyone with two ounces of sense to process applications. That is a pennies-on-the-dollar job. The recruiters who thrive in a down economy are assassins. Recruiters who can go out and find the best talent and talk that talent into coming onto your sinking ship.

This past decade was not a great decade to grow assassins. Why?

You would think the opposite to be true. Everyone was hiring. The competition for talent was fierce! Why didn’t we grow more assassins?

It’s a combination of technology, flow, and ease of apply. We had this strange convergence of a time when we had millions of open jobs, a time when it was never easier to find talent, and you could apply to jobs with one click. Basically, most TA shops turned into Inbound recruiting process shops. We post jobs. People apply. We process those applications. Rinse and repeat.

If there is candidate flow to your jobs, why spend the extra effort to make sure that flow is actually good? It must be good, right?! Just process more applications. We are hiring so many it doesn’t really matter, we’ll make some great hires out of that pile. Or we won’t. It doesn’t matter, we have another pile to go through.

Assassins grow when times are tough. You need to find yourself some assassins and get ready. Winter is coming.

5 thoughts on “In Low Hire Times, Great Recruiting is More Important!

  1. Always an informative and fun read. #notalifecoach – me neither!

    When I started in recruiting in ’98 after working for ten years in the telecommunications industry, my first lesson was, always be recruiting. Always be looking for talent that your company needs when you need it. Fill your funnel.
    Good recruiters are not clerks…. to your point, those are pennies-on-the-dollar jobs. Good recruiters are working it long before you need them and the best ones are able to influence. (Hence, the sinking ship comment.)

    From another perspective, I’m doing some outplacement, and to hear what job seekers are experiencing from some employers is laughable. It’s no wonder why some companies can’t attract and retain the best. They are simply in their own way…. or maybe full of process jockeys.


  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important topic! I couldn’t agree more that in today’s competitive job market, great recruiting is more important than ever. With so many qualified candidates out there vying for the same positions, it’s essential that companies take the time to find the very best talent.

    The most successful organizations are those that understand the importance of investing in their recruitment process. They realize that attracting and hiring top talent is essential to achieving long-term success. By taking the time to find the right candidates and investing in a strong recruitment process, these companies are able to stay ahead of their competition and build a strong foundation for future growth.

    Kevin Blery

  3. LOVE this pep talk! Thanks for your realism! I have been thinking about the inbound vs outboard since your last post on that topic and really thinking about how I can strengthen my outboard work to bring value to our firm. Be an ASSASSIN!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.