Everything is going great in your talent acquisition department. Your plugging along, hiring awesome talent and being a recruiting rockstar. Then bam! Your organization institutes a hiring freeze. A million things are racing through your mind: do I need to send out a job on hold letter? What does this mean for my team? Will we still keep working during this time?
It is normal for your human resources team to have a ton of questions during a hiring freeze. They, along with hiring managers, employees, and candidates in process will also have a ton of questions, too.
There several things your recruitment team can do during this time to make sure that all questions are answered, and to prepare for any transitions that might happen after the hiring freeze.
Before we get into that, make sure to download our “Job Placed On Hold Letter” that you can send out candidates in process during your hiring freeze:
Okay let’s get to it..
What should recruitment be doing during a hiring freeze?
Just because your organization has instituted a hiring freeze does not mean that your recruitment professionals should stop working. It just means that they are limited in the normal activities that they can partake in.
This will be different for every organization. In some places, it might be okay for candidates to be brought in for interviews. In other places, all that might be allowed is active sourcing of candidates.
And with a lot of hiring freezes, there is still hiring going on. If your organization has exceptions to the hiring freeze, your recruiters will still be responsible for filling these positions.
Also, hiring freezes are not permanent. Most organizations have hard to fill positions that regularly need to be hired for. This requires a continued pipeline of candidates that possess the needed skills. During this time, your recruiters should still be actively nurturing talent for these hard to fill positions so that they can fill them once the need arises after the hiring freeze is over.
For example, say that you work in the recruiting team at a call center. Your organization has to hire a team of 6 Portuguese speaking call center agents every 5 months due to growth and turnover. Just because a hiring freeze is in place now, does not mean that your recruiters won’t have to fill this position in 5 months. Since this is a hard to fill position, your recruiters should still be going to Portuguese language classes and community centers regularly to source potential talent.
How can your HR team retain talent in process?
Imagine going through a recruitment process, only to find out that the organization you have been interviewing for is having a hiring freeze.
Pretty bad candidate experience, right?
This is especially true for organizations where it can take several months to get from application to job offer.
While there is nothing your recruitment team can do to change the fact that your organization is having a hiring freeze, they can improve the situation through transparent communication.
The first step to this is to let your talent in process know about your hiring freeze. To do this, you will need to send out a “job placed on hold” letter. You can download our sample letter here:
Your job placed on hold letter should explain that your organization is having a hiring freeze, what a hiring freeze is, and any information regarding timeline. Your job placed on hold letter should also include information on how this will affect the candidates chances at landing a position at your organization.
You should be as transparent and honest as possible. If you are unsure if this position will remain open after the hiring freeze is ended, let them know this in the job placed on hold letter. If you are positive that this position will be open and that they will immediately get the job once the freeze is over, let them know that. If your candidate is truly interested in your organization they will appreciate your transparency in the job placed on hold letter you send them.
Next, keep your candidates engaged throughout the hiring freeze. Check up with them on a regular basis, let them know any updates about your hiring freeze timeline, and see where they are at in their job search process.
This communication is of utmost importance for success after your hiring freeze. Checking in on a regular basis might not salvage your chances with every candidate, but those that are really serious about your company will stay engaged until your hiring freeze is over.
If they stay engaged, this will help with the requisition overload that usually happens after a hiring freeze is ended, as you will have candidates ready to fill your open positions.
Keeping in touch will also let you know If an amazing candidate that was far in process is about to go to your competitor. Chances are that your higher ups won’t want to lose this competitive asset, so they will make an exception if you can make a case that is essential to business operations.
Also, in today’s age of technology, employer brand mistakes stay around forever. If your hiring freeze is communicated poorly, and this displeases several candidates, it will definitely affect your Glassdoor score.
A best practice is to have recruiters touch basis at the end of every week to give an update about the hiring freeze to the candidate. If that feels like too many touch points, your recruiter could try emailing every other week, or setting up a 15 minute call every two weeks to touch base. If your hiring freeze is going to be long, it might make more sense to spread the touch points out further.
So you know how to manage talent that was in process during a hiring freeze, but what about applications that are sitting in the system? Or requisitions that were just put up on your website?
There are a few ways to handle this:
1. Be transparent with your applications and your job listings. Put in the listing that you are in a hiring freeze, and set up an automated email when candidates apply to explain this.
2) Accept applications and start interviews with potential candidates during the hiring freeze. Let the candidates know once they are in the first phone screen interview, and continue with the recruitment process as far down the pipeline as your organization will allow.
If your hiring freeze will last for a substantial amount of time, I would recommend the first option. If your hiring freeze will be short, then it might make sense to follow the process outlined in option number two.
For example, if your hiring freeze is put in place from November 15th to January 10th, option two would be the best solution. Since most hiring processes can take anywhere from 4-10 weeks, the gap in time between the offer date and start date would not be enough to deter a candidate from accepting a position.
What should your team do when the hiring freeze is over?
The weeks following the end of a hiring freeze will be less stressful for your recruiting team if they kept busy throughout said freeze.
When a hiring freeze is over, it is normal for hiring managers to put in position requests at a faster rate than the recruiting team’s normal capacity to fill. This is because their team has been without the needed support for so long, they are eager to bring on more people as quickly as possible.
Also, if your organization is unstable, many hiring managers will fear future hiring freezes. This will cause them to rush to hire on more people, and potentially even pad their teams with extra help.
To ensure the long term success of your organization, the hiring process after a freeze needs to be structured to avoid these scenarios. Require your hiring managers to assign priority to their hiring needs, and then create a several month plan to fill these needs. This will eliminate burnout from your recruitment team and make managers analyze their own priorities.
It is also helpful to provide job analysis and workforce planning tools to hiring managers. Requiring a job analysis breakdown for any needed positions on a manager’s team will guarantee that they aren’t padding their teams with extra hands. This eliminates extra costs for an organization, as well as extra work for your recruitment team.
Your recruitment team should also prioritize any talent that has stayed engaged with them during the freeze. Their main priority should be getting these people into their new positions as quickly as possible, and then working to fill new openings that come in.