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How to Leverage a Hiring Lull to Upgrade Your Technical Recruitment

Hiring Developers

While companies are still hiring developers, some organizations are slowing or freezing their hiring in the face of economic uncertainty

This can be uncomfortable for recruiters and frustrating for hiring managers.

As a recruiter, you have to deal with the feeling of being “at a loose end”, the fear for your job and the frustration of turning good candidates away.

As a hiring manager, you’re faced with the challenge of doing more, with less. You’re forced to find ways to get things done, without the new resources you were counting on.

Yes, hiring freezes or hiring lulls are trying for everyone involved, but they’re also temporary

“I’m not worried. If there’s one thing the more than 20 years in this industry has taught me, it’s that hiring always bounces back. And when it does, it often does so with a vengeance, leaving many companies flat-footed and unprepared.

The solution is for talent acquisition teams to use this downtime strategically. Now, when you’re not recruiting, is the time to level-up your skills and optimize your processes. If you do this well, when hiring inevitably picks back up again, you’ll be in a position to win.”

Richard Cho, Executive Vice President, Talent Acquisition at Charlie Health

Whether you’re a hiring manager or a technical recruiter, here are a few ways to leverage a hiring lull:

What can hiring managers do?

1. Provide your TA team with constructive feedback and support

It’s not easy to find time to provide useful, collaborative feedback when you’re smack-bang in the middle of a recruitment process. A hiring lull, however, may just be the perfect opportunity to do so. 

Your recruitment team is most likely looking to identify areas of improvement, so as to optimize their processes and hit the ground running when hiring picks up. Why not meet with the team to discuss previous hiring experiences and share your observations? 

“Some hiring processes are just ridiculously grueling, you know, ‘18 stages of madness!’”.

Nathan Sutter, Global VP of Engineering at CoderPad

If you feel that your company’s recruitment process is too long, for example, try to pinpoint exactly what it is that bothers you. Be specific and transparent. 

Do you worry that candidate experience is suffering? Do you feel like you’re wasting time with candidates that aren’t relevant to the role? Are you uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the tools being used? 

Generally, your talent team will meet your feedback with clarifications or suggestions for change.

Keep in mind that your talent team has the same goal as you do: to fill open positions quickly, with the right candidates. Go forward with a positive attitude and appreciation for their work.

🎬 Related watch: The Secrets to Aligning Talent Acquisition & Engineering Teams

2. Map out a hiring forecast

Another thing that you can do now, to save time later, is forecast your hiring needs.

It may seem optimistic to do this during a hiring pause, but hiring will pick up, and you want to be ready to answer the “so what do you need” question when it does.

While your plan will never be 100% accurate, drafting a hiring plan will allow you and your TA team to:

  • Fill your talent pipeline with the right candidates (your TA team can even start nurturing these candidate profiles before roles reopen)
  • Plan your actions and budget accordingly (less scrambling when the time comes)

Where should you start? A few words of advice: 

  1. Document the engineering team’s organogram
  2. Spot likely promotions (and add any anticipated gaps to your hiring plan)
  3. Identify likely turnover (individual warning signs and/or statistical estimations)
  4. Plan project resources 
  5. Analyze skill gaps

What can TA do?

1. Document and optimize your process

Not yet gotten round to documenting your hiring process? Or, you created something back in 2020 and you’ve been meaning to update it? The time is now!

In the same way that your candidates should know what to expect from your hiring process (Generally Intelligent, for example, do a great job of presenting their technical hiring process to candidates), so should internal contributors. 

Aim to document and standardize your process. Strive to clearly communicate each step—and its value.

For every step of your internal hiring process, from the job description to the initial screen to the technical interview and beyond, address the following questions: 

  • What does this step entail?
  • Who is involved and what is expected from them?
  • What do we hope to learn?
  • Why is this important to us?
  • (Bonus) How does this benefit the candidate experience?

Plus, bear in mind that consistency doesn’t mean refusal to evolve or improve. It’s not a case of setting things in stone. You should always be willing to adjust and optimize your process, whenever justified.

“There are often things you can do to make the process shorter, less redundant. Stay on the lookout for gaps in your process, don’t be afraid of reprocessing (the ‘big enemy’ of TA!), there are always opportunities for talent acquisition to grow and improve.” 

Gerardo Tobar, Senior Team Leader, Talent Acquisition at Telus International

2. Nurture your employer brand

Fast forward a few months, hiring is picking up—and you’re not the only company hiring. 

When that day comes, you want to be in a position to shine! A hiring lull is a great time to update and polish your online presence. 

What does your LinkedIn company page look like? 

Make sure all of the information is accurate and up to date, share company updates and content relevant to your activity or industry. Spend time building up your LinkedIn “shop window”. 

What about your company blog?

A blog is a great way to cultivate your employer brand.

Give tech talent content to munch on and let them know what it’s like to work within your tech teams. You’ll create your own audience of developers, and you’ll be able to tap into that audience when hiring regains speed. 

Uber, for example, run their own engineering blog: Uber Engineering. Tech fans can browse categories such as AI, Backend, Culture, Data, etc. There’s a good mix of tech trends, company news, and employer branding.

Spotify also publish regular updates to their engineering blog. Back in 2014, for example, they released a two-part video describing their internal tech process. They described the video as “somewhere between how things are today and how we want things to be”. Totally honest and a little creative, Spotify’s video became a reference in terms of tech team organization (with over a million views!). You can bet they received a good bunch of applications from tech talent who identified with their way of working and who wanted to be a part of it.