Recruitment Blog

How to maintain client relationships during hiring freezes

Sarah Linney
Content Marketing Manager at JobAdder

Hiring freezes can turn everyone at your recruitment agency stone-cold, right? 

Many unknowns exist in the staffing industry:

  • You never know when clients won’t like your new candidates
  • Some of your newly-placed candidates don’t stick around long
  • Your talent pool might shrink when some of them go off the job market

You’re most likely used to those unpredictable scenarios by now. The one thing that throws the biggest wrench in your process, however, is the dreaded hiring freeze. 

They happen sometimes but the COVID-19 crisis was the hiring freeze whopper. Many clients put a freeze on new hires and still haven’t lifted them, or are reinstating them now in light of new restrictions. 

So, what can you do to mitigate the damage and set yourself up for success after these hiring freezes end? When these crisis-related hiring freezes reverse, you’re bound to find a surge of clients frantically trying to fill positions. 

Follow the tips below and set yourself apart from competitors so you’re ready to hit the ground running when hiring freezes thaw out. 

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Maintain quality candidate relationships throughout hiring freezes

You know that you’re a vital partner of each client’s talent acquisition team. You’re the front-facing entity that new candidates create their first connections with. Your relationship with candidates must stay strong if you expect to quickly bring people in after a hiring freeze ends. 

Failing to maintain candidate relationships during a hiring freeze allows other recruitment agencies to step in and take away your best talent. 

There’s a fine line to balance when communicating with candidates so they don’t end up feeling as if the process is futile. Ask them questions like:

  • What are your employment search goals over the next six to 12 months?
  • Are you job hunting actively?
  • Do you need employment immediately or can you wait for the best fit?
  • Is your current position temporary or permanent?

Identify candidates who make for quality long-term possibilities. Let them know why you think they’re good fits for your client’s company and compliment them on their skills. Answer honestly when pressed for details about your clients’ hiring freezes.

Provide clients with industry information during hiring freezes

Don’t forget about your industry expertise. You know how to predict what current trends mean for your clients. Keep yourself at the forefront of your clients’ minds by actively providing industry and trend information that could impact hiring processes, decisions and needs. 

Use the knowledge you gained from previous hiring freezes to make educated predictions about post-freeze outcomes. Share these insights with clients. They’ll recognize your value and appreciate how you’re watching out for them. 

Provide historical data so clients understand how long it might take to get the hiring process moving along again. Share what your predictions reveal about the needs top candidates might bring to the hiring process following a lengthy freeze. Help your clients realize what could happen to the available talent pool when their hiring freeze ends. 

Keep clients apprised of what they face in this hiring environment and how your team can help them through the next phase. Doing so will go a long way in guaranteeing your agency’s future success. 

Think about and plan for shifting roles post-hiring freeze

Another way to stay in contact with clients is by gauging changes within each client’s company. Many roles shift naturally within an organisation and, for example, some may move from permanent to temporary positions. 

It’s difficult to accurately predict these position changes that shift into temporary situations. Assess which roles a client might transition smoothly into a contract position. Compile a list and send them off to clients. Ask them to provide input that can help make the list of temporary positions more concrete. 

Ask clients the following:

  • Why is this role a good fit for temporary work? 
  • What is normally the busiest time of year for this position?
  • What is the slowest time for it?
  • How many temporary employees do you anticipate needing for each role?
  • What experience, traits or skills do people need to excel in these roles?
  • How will candidates benefit if they choose these temporary roles? 

This is an excellent way to stay in contact with clients without it seeming odd. If your competitors aren’t doing it, then you’re setting yourself up with an added competitive advantage. 

Evolve with client process changes

Some clients might need to make major changes to their hiring process after the hiring freeze ends. Update your processes to ensure that you can help clients resume hiring most effectively. 

Ask yourself how leadership changes or lost employees might affect how they get back on track with hiring. For example, have leadership changes impacted the company’s mission or culture? 

Use the new information to improve how you evaluate candidates or conduct interviews

Evaluate your technology

Hiring freezes are the perfect opportunity to evaluate the technology that you and your clients use when hiring. 

You might discover waste or see ways to improve vital metrics such as:

  • Placement times
  • Engagement ratings
  • Candidate dropout rates

Use data points like dropout rates, first-year turnover and time to hire to grade all of your technology tools on usability, effectiveness and efficiency. 

You can uncover why some tools work better than others and whether new tools can improve results after hiring freezes come to an end. 

Build your talent pool during hiring freezes

You can’t sit back and allow competitors to swoop in on talent during this time. Use video interviews to keep your clients top-of-mind with quality candidates. 

Save those interviews into a library or pool that you and clients can go back to once hiring opens up again. 

A one-way video is a structured method for asking important questions that focus on whether a company’s values, mission or culture fits well for candidates. 

Ask your clients to rate the interviews so you can easily pull the top choices up post-hiring freeze.

By maintaining communications and being prepared for when hiring freezes thaw, recruiters can ensure their relationships with clients and candidates are still strong and nurtured throughout times of crisis. 

To find out more about how recruiters can prepare for a post-crisis market, check out our blog: What does the future of work look like post-COVID-19?

James Caan CBE reveals his essential growth strategies for recruitment agency owners.

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