No one likes a hiring freeze, but it’s especially tough for recruiters and hiring managers.
When your recruitment plans are on hold, keeping candidates engaged can feel like an impossible task. But what if you could pack on the insulation and keep your candidate pipeline toasty, even when you’re not actively hiring?
A hiring freeze doesn’t have to put your recruitment plans on ice. With a clear strategy and the right tools to back it up, you can build a strong talent pipeline that delivers the right candidates at the right time.
We’ve rounded up tips and tricks from real employers to help you nurture relationships with potential candidates and bounce back quickly once your hiring freeze has thawed.
6 ways to nurture your talent pipeline during a hiring freeze
- Keep your brand top of mind
- Retain the team you already have
- Connect with passive candidates
- Mix up your conversation starters
- Nurture budding talent
- Communicate with other hiring pros
1. Keep your brand top of mind
A hiring freeze is never an excuse to let your employer brand slip. But when recruitment’s at a standstill, how can you keep your company in the spotlight?
“LinkedIn can be harnessed to promote the organization’s brand and keep it at the forefront of potential candidates' minds, making your business their employer of choice.”
But to capture and keep your candidates’ attention, you can’t just post the occasional update and call it a day. You need to optimize your recruitment marketing for all types of candidates and experience levels.
“Campaigns should be varied to ensure that they will grab attention at all levels, from senior and experienced hires to those early in their career path and those considering their career paths such as potential interns,” says Ryan. By piquing interest among multiple candidate audiences, you can lay the groundwork for ace hires in all types of future open roles.
Ryan also recommends launching a candidate newsletter to help keep the conversation going.
“This keeps the organization’s name and brand at the forefront and helps to create a feeling of belonging as current wins and news can be shared,” he explains.
Share content that inspires potential candidates to dream big about a chance to work with your company and start building a connection. Once the hiring freeze is lifted, this warm-and-fuzzy feeling can quickly translate into A-player hires in your talent pool who already know what you’re about.
2. Retain your current rockstars
According to Shideh Kaviani, President of fashion brand Naked Wardrobe, hiring slowdowns don’t just leave candidates out in the cold — they can also freeze out your current employees.
While a healthy, non-toxic working environment is the long term gold standard year round, it’s especially important during tough times. Before you start plotting your future hires, make sure you’re taking care of your existing team members first.
“Hiring freezes can be a jarring thing for your employees, and it’s important to maintain motivation and morale during those more difficult moments for your organization.”
Shideh’s advice? When you announce a hiring freeze, create a sense of community to boost employee retention.
“At a surface level and a humane level, it’s important to promote community and camaraderie within your organization during a hiring freeze. The more your employees feel supported by you, as their employer, the more of a chance you have in retaining the team you currently have with you and upholding your capacity for productivity.”
Whether you encourage upskilling, mentorship, working groups, or any other activity that boosts confidence and collaboration, building community is imperative during a hiring freeze.
3. Connect with passive candidates
Building a talent pipeline requires constant nurturing and communication, even when hiring is on pause. But when you’re not actively reviewing applicants, what’s the best way to connect?
According to Edlyn Collanto, B2B Marketing Research Specialist at service provider review site UpCity, the answer is to connect with people who also aren’t actively looking for work — a.k.a. passive candidates.
“Engage professionals who may not be actively looking for work but have the qualifications and experience your company values.”
Where can you find these hidden gems? Edlyn suggests checking the following places for passive candidates:
- Online networks like LinkedIn
- Professional conferences
- Networking events
“These tools enable recruiters to classify and arrange candidates, keep track of past correspondence, and establish reminders for follow-ups,” Edlyn explains. When the skies clear and the ground thaws out, you need to be in a position to not only locate, but actually engage with candidates as quickly as possible.
4. Mix up your conversation starters
Elizabeth Pharo, CEO and Chair of the Board at divorce.com, knows hiring freezes during an economic downturn can obstruct even the most effective talent pipelines. But keeping things moving is possible — it just takes a little extra effort.
“A great place to start is by treating [candidates] as part of your community,” Elizabeth explains.
“This means reaching out to them regularly, not with job offers, but with updates about your organization, industry news, and career advice. Webinars, newsletters, and social media are great tools for this.”
For modern employers like Elizabeth, it’s not just about copying/pasting candidates into your email funnel — it’s about cultivating engagement. “Remember that these touchpoints should not just be one-way streets,” she warns. “Encouraging responses and engagement is also very important.”
But what do you talk about when there are no open roles?
“A hiring freeze doesn't mean we stop talking about opportunities,” Elizabeth explains. “It just means the conversation changes a bit.” Rather than focusing on immediate job openings in the short term, you can discuss potential future roles, skills candidates could develop in the meantime, or possible career paths within your company.
“This way, they could understand that while you might not be hiring right now, you see where they fit into your team.” When the hiring freeze lifts, you’ll have a pool of enthusiastic candidates ready and raring to join your organization.
5. Nurture budding talent
Her suggestion? Collaborate with educational organizations.
“Partner with schools or universities to cultivate relationships with future talent,” Sarah suggests. When students are ready to enter the workforce, your company will be at the top of the list.
But this strategy doesn’t just apply to your local university grads.
“This can include internships, apprenticeships, or mentorship programs.”
Any experience-granting, career-shaping opportunity fits the bill as a great source of future candidates. By training new hires early in their career, you can tap into a strong pool of talent that is ready and eager to learn.
6. Communicate with other hiring pros
“Communicating with other companies is great because recruiters are not always hiring for every role,” says Rodolphe Dutel, Founder of remote work platform Remotive.com. “You may hire for something (technical, non-technical roles), but it’s hard to hire for everybody.”
“Hiring teams should be communicating with one another, especially amongst different companies.”
So how can you foster that pro-to-pro connection?
“HR professionals should reach out to their peers and basically ask how the experience of, for instance, hiring a DevOps candidate went for that company. I really think that if you can base your approach on the experiences of others, you have better answers.”
Rodolphe shared a few ideas on where to start reaching out, including:
Whichever route you choose, stay open to the possibility of connecting with possible future candidates through your new contacts. “Keep all channels open because you don’t know where the next talent is going to come from.”
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From networking and newsletters to candidate communication and community-building, there are many ways to keep candidates engaged, even when you’re not technically hiring.
With candidate-friendly features that help you showcase your open positions, streamline candidate outreach, and simplify offers and onboarding, you can spend less time worrying about what’s next and more time connecting with top candidates.