So where did the job ad go? – How recruiting freezes can damage the relationship between candidates and companies

In the wake of the Corona crisis, many HR departments faced drastic budget cuts and changing targets. As a result, there were recruiting freezes, vacant positions were suddenly no longer vacant, and in some cases all activities related to recruiting were even frozen.

Uncertainty about the further development of the new situation and a lack of communication within the company were transferred to the way applicants were treated, often leaving them perplexed and uncertain: Is it still worth applying? Will my application process continue? Can I start my new job as planned? Questions that often remained unanswered, and not only at the beginning of the crisis. But throttling or even completely shutting down recruiting processes carries some undesirable consequences.


A possible scenario

Imagine the following: You have applied for your dream job. A headhunter approached you, you did your research, put together your documents, put the company through its paces – a great employer, values that you can identify with, that you want to take out into the world, a utopia of benefits and opportunities for further training. The company seemed to be very interested in you as well: An invitation to the telephone interview, the first on-site meeting and finally even the final interview! You’re waiting for someone to suggest an appointment, dreaming of your new job, when your cell phone rings. You are told that although they have already invited you to the final step of the hiring process, they will have to withdraw that invitation indefinitely – it is unclear how this “Corona thing” will play out, they have now put the plan to fill the position on hold for now, and will get back to you as soon as they know more. When is that likely to be? Unclear. How would you react? Disappointed? Annoyed? All the effort and preparation for nothing!


Maintaining candidate confidence

A drop in sales usually inevitably leads to changes in personnel planning – where recruitment was previously at full speed, the focus can suddenly shift to cost savings in times of crisis. Such a situation is equally frustrating for all parties involved. On the company side, the most important things are careful consideration of the next steps and clear internal communication that reliably involves all relevant stakeholders. Keeping a cool head avoids hasty decisions that can abruptly undo months of work. Therefore, do everything you can to cultivate the relationship with your candidates. Provide information about all steps taken and developments, admit mistakes and ignorance, in short: be transparent.


Stand out as a crisis manager

Transparent communication is essential, even if it must be communicated transparently that it is simply not certain what will happen next. Get the applicants on board and let them participate! Stirring up false hopes and the impression of untrustworthiness can, in the worst case, lead to suitable applicants, whom you have previously recruited at the cost of time and money, turning away and excluding your company as a potential employer. Jeopardizing the employer image, which has been painstakingly established through employer branding measures, through ill-considered, hasty action or negligent handling of applicants is not expedient, and the costs of restoring the reputation may be many times higher than those required to avoid a recruiting stop. Rather, proper handling of the current situation can help companies position themselves as competent and reliable crisis managers.


Disadvantages in War for Talents due to recruiting freezes

Such a strategic orientation seems indispensable, especially in view of the shortage of qualified specialists in many sectors, which is currently overshadowed by the crisis. Although the concrete consequences of the crisis are still open at the moment, one thing is certain: there will be a time after Corona and those who lay the foundation now will have greater chances of winning the competition for sought-after talent. The IT industry is a good example of this: According to the digital association Bitkom there were 124,000 vacancies for IT specialists in November 2019, more than twice as many as in 2017 (55,000). IT experts with the appropriate qualifications thus increasingly have the opportunity to choose their position almost freely. For companies, this means a constant scramble for the available IT specialists, which could tend to intensify in the course of the digitization of processes newly spurred by the Corona crisis.

HR managers should keep this thought in mind and base their decisions on it. The circumstances that companies are currently facing could therefore be positively transformed and used to attract embattled skilled personnel, so that even leaving the crisis stronger seems possible. Hasty recruitment stops are more likely to result in your company being unable to act and put you far behind in the war for talent.

Supporting young talent

If you take this idea a step further, you inevitably end up with the high potentials who are actually in such high demand: What about university graduates and students in their final year of study? This question is the French recruiting platform Jobteaser and has now published the results of its cross-industry and cross-national online survey, in which 175 universities and colleges, 237 companies and 7041 students were asked about their perceptions of the ongoing crisis in the period 01-17 April 2020. Here, 30% of students in their final year of study and 40% of graduates, with regard to their career prospects, expressed that they were worried or even very worried. A full 37% of the young talents surveyed said they were rethinking their career orientation in light of the crisis and would like more comprehensive guidance in this area.

This is where companies can start by supporting (future) career starters and getting them excited about their industries. There appears to be interest on the part of young talent: 48% said they spend more time searching for career opportunities, a full 71% of respondents turn to their university and career center for job opportunities, and 52% expect their career center to provide more guidance. Supporting young talent thus offers numerous opportunities to profit from an uncertain situation and positively strengthen the employer image.

Kooku’s Tip: It is understandable to have some anxiety during this time. But instead of cutting the budget of the – at first glance perhaps most obvious – departments and even declaring recruiting freezes, company managers should first take a deep breath and consider what would be best for their company not only in the short, but also in the long and medium term. Because even if the crisis is taking its toll at the moment, it will need good personnel one way or another afterwards to recover as a company and present itself strongly on the market. So why not take advantage of the situation to position yourself well now?

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