Navigating a recession: How talent-acquisition professionals can demonstrate their value to the company


Recruiting is similar to farming and talent acquisition or TA professionals are the skilled farmers who know how to plant, nurture and harvest the right crops. Just the way skilled farmers understand the soil, climate and market demand to grow and harvest the right crops, TA professionals understand the company’s culture, goals and requirements to identify, attract and retain the right talent. 

Without skilled farmers, crops would fail to grow and harvest. Similarly, without TA professionals, organisations would struggle to build a skilled and motivated workforce, leading to a significant loss of productivity and revenue.

Unearthing hidden gems: The invaluable contribution of TAs  

Talent-acquisition professionals are always tirelessly working behind the scenes to source, screen and recruit the best talent for the company. Their job doesn’t end there. They also create a positive candidate experience, build relationships with hiring managers, and ensure the smooth functioning of the recruitment process.

Without TA professionals, companies would struggle to identify the right talent, leading to a significant loss of productivity and revenue. The role of TA professionals is critical to the success of the organisation, as they play a crucial part in shaping the company’s future. They also play a critical role in enhancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, mitigating risks associated with hiring the wrong candidate, improving employee retention and developing future leaders.

They are often at the forefront of driving organisational change, advocating for diversity, inclusion and belonging, and working to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

Without TA professionals, organisations may need to rely on external recruitment agencies, which can be expensive. Additionally, the recruitment process may take longer, resulting in increased recruitment costs.

Dear TAs, you need to recognise the incredible value that you bring to an organisation. You are the backbone of any successful company. 

Talent acquisition treated as cost centre

How do talent-acquisition professionals fare during times of recession or unprecedented events like the pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations were forced to focus on cutting costs, which unfortunately resulted in layoffs, including talent-acquisition professionals. However, when the market bounced back, and organisations needed to fill positions urgently, they realised the critical importance of TA professionals in identifying, attracting and retaining top talent. The ‘Great Resignation’ also highlighted the importance of TAs as organisations had many vacant positions to fill but no skilled professionals to do so.

Organisations that let go of their TAs during the pandemic realised the mistake they had made, and as the job market became more competitive, they understood the value of having skilled recruiters on their team. Talent-acquisition professionals got a seat at the table, and their role was recognised as critical to the organisation’s success. The pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ have shown that organisations need to have a strong recruitment strategy and skilled TAs to navigate challenging times and remain competitive in the market.

Despite the critical role that TAs play in identifying and attracting top talent, organisations may view them as a cost centre and choose to let them go to reduce expenses.

TAs need a permanent seat at the table

The mere thought of losing one’s job can send chills down anyone’s spine. It’s a distressing experience that can take a toll on a person’s emotional and mental well-being. For talent- acquisition professionals, the possibility of being laid off during a recession is a particularly daunting prospect. They know that their role is critical to the organisation’s success, and the fear of losing their job can create significant anxiety and stress.

Amidst the fear and uncertainty of a recession, TAs must take specific steps to showcase their value to the organisation. They must find ways to prove that they are more than just a cost centre but a critical asset that is essential to the organisation’s survival. It’s not just about securing their job but also about ensuring that they continue to play a crucial role in the organisation’s success.

What steps can TAs take during a recession to demonstrate their value to an organisation and ensure that they are not laid off?

3 essential steps TAs can take to boost their value during (and after) a recession

Create a newsletter 

During a recession, communication is critical to ensure that the entire organisation is aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. Talent-acquisition professionals can play a crucial role in maintaining open lines of communication by creating a newsletter for employees. This newsletter for employees can serve several purposes and can have a significant impact on the organisation’s success during challenging times.

Benefits of creating a newsletter during a recession

  • Keeps leadership team in the loop: The newsletter can help keep the leadership team in the loop on the recruitment process, any hiring freezes, or other recruitment-related updates. This information can help leaders plan and make informed decisions, avoid escalations and ensure that the organisation is well prepared to navigate the challenges of a recession.
  • Promotes the referral programme: Referrals can be an effective way to attract high-quality talent, and during a recession, referrals can be a cost-effective way to fill open positions. By promoting the referral programme in the newsletter, TAs can encourage employees to refer their friends and acquaintances, which can help fill open positions quickly and efficiently.
  • Keeping employees informed and engaged: The newsletter can also serve as an excellent way to keep employees informed about the latest company news, such as any changes to the organisational structure or any updates on the company’s plans and objectives. This can help employees stay engaged, motivated and aligned with the company’s goals, which can ultimately lead to increased productivity and success during challenging times.

By taking such proactive during challenging times, TAs can demonstrate their value to the organisation and ensure that they continue to play a crucial role in the organisation’s success. 

Create skill-based employee communities

During a recession, when the job market is highly competitive, it’s essential to find innovative ways to attract and retain top talent. One effective way that talent-acquisition professionals can do this is by creating communities of employees based on their skills. By doing so, TAs can foster a sense of camaraderie among employees who share similar skills and interests.

Creating communities of employees based on skills can also help TAs to segment their audience and send targeted referrals later on. For instance, if there is a job opening for a role that requires a specific skill set, TAs can refer to the communities of employees who possess those skills. This approach can help TAs to identify and target the right candidates, which can save time, effort and resources in the recruitment process.

Another benefit of creating communities of employees based on skills is that it can help to develop employee advocacy. When employees feel like they are part of a community, they are more likely to share job openings and refer their friends and colleagues. This can help to increase the organisation’s reach and attract high-quality talent through referrals, which can be particularly valuable during a recession when the organisation may have limited resources to allocate towards recruitment.

Creative rewards for referral

Recently, we asked around 500+ experienced TA leaders/managers to share insights on their referral programme. And the results are in! From the most effective referral programmes to the biggest challenges, this report is a valuable resource for the entire TA community to benchmark, improve and learn from the best practices in employee referrals. 

During a recession, talent-acquisition professionals may face unique opportunities to explore new and creative ways to incentivise employee referrals. With a more competitive job market, employees may be more willing to refer top talent to their organisation in exchange for non-monetary rewards.

By taking advantage of this opportunity, TAs can experiment with creative rewards for referrals that go beyond traditional monetary incentives. This can include offering unique experiences or professional-development opportunities, such as mentorship or skills training, as well as opportunities to participate in CSR initiatives or community events. By testing these types of rewards during a recession, TAs can gain valuable insights into what motivates employees to refer top talent and what types of rewards are most effective.

One way to give incentives that align with CSR is to allow employees to choose a charity or non-profit organisation that is aligned with the organisation’s values and goals. This approach not only incentivises referrals but also encourages employees to support causes that are important to them.

To implement this approach, TAs can offer a list of pre-approved charities or nonprofits that align with the organisation’s CSR initiatives. Employees who make successful referrals can then choose one of these organisations to receive a donation or grant from the organisation.

How can TAs execute their plan to stay valuable during a recession?

Talent-acquisition professionals can execute their plan to stay valuable during a recession by taking proactive steps to build and strengthen their referral system before the recession hits. One such tool that TAs can use is RippleHire, a referral-management platform that automates the referral process and helps to improve employee engagement.

While it’s true that during a recession, there may be fewer hiring needs, it’s still important for TAs to put systems and processes in place in preparation for when the economy rebounds. This can include identifying new talent sources, optimising the recruitment process to reduce costs and increase efficiency, and building relationships with top talent. By taking a proactive approach, TAs can stay ahead of the curve and ensure that they are ready to quickly fill open positions when they arise.

The author, Sudarsan Ravi is the Founder and CEO of RippleHire and is known as a pioneer and category creator in recruitment technology.

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