Freezes and thaws: How to deal with recruitment stops and starts
3 minutes | Posted 21 October, 2020

During economic downturns, many organizations focus on cutting costs to survive. When there’s no growth, hiring is typically the first thing thrown out the window. Then, after a few months when things turn around and it’s back to business as usual, hiring becomes a number one priority!

Other organizations may experience similar abrupt changes in hiring due to their industry (such as construction, mining or engineering). This can be due to the need to apply for grants, bids or tenders and have a steady flow of talent ready for work that may or may not be secure.

In either case, recruitment stops and starts can be jarring and tricky to manage. Here’s how to build your talent pipeline so you have access to the high-quality candidates you need when you need them.

Invest in recruitment technology and talent pooling

An Applicant Tracking System is vital to surviving recruitment stops and starts. Why? In addition to saving you precious time and allowing you to work collaboratively with your hiring managers and recruitment team, an ATS grants you increased visibility and facilitates easy communication with candidates.

Every candidate you’ve attracted to your recruitment campaigns can be viewed and managed in a single location and grouped into talent pools. This allows you to send timely communications, engage with candidates and keep them updated. It also allows you to promote your employer brand by sending targeted recruitment marketing content.

A recruitment system also protects your organization from other challenges, such as changes in your HR or recruitment team. If a key member of your HR team leaves, candidate contact information and the relationships you’ve built remains intact.

Strengthen your employer brand

Maintaining a strong employer brand is another critical strategy to manage recruitment stops and starts.

Organisations with a strong employer brand see 50% more qualified applicants and are 1–2x faster to hire (LinkedIn, 2020).

Organizations that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire (Brandon Hall, 2020).

Ensure your careers site is attractive, engaging and up to date. Continue to share employer branding targeted with potential candidates’ content across your key channels. For example, you could encourage candidates in your talent pool to stay in touch with you on social media and keep these channels updated with fresh, relevant photos and article links.

If your recruitment is stuck in a “freeze”, showcase the other things happening in your organization.

Use great communication  

For some organizations, you may advertise a role, only to find the role is no longer needed. You may lose a contract, lack the budget or discover the responsibilities can be shared among others. Should you simply close the role and throw your candidates on ice?


The best way to manage tricky situations like this is to thank candidates for their application, provide honest information about what the role is no longer available, and ask to keep in touch with them for future opportunities (if you intend to do so). Helping candidates understand the “why” keeps the door open.

Good communication ties in well with having an Applicant Tracking System and a strong employer brand. There’s no excuse for poor communication with an ATS, as branded templates are easy to create and send. Also, honesty and transparency are the foundation of great employer brands.

If you know you’ll need to create another candidate shortlist again in 2-3 months’ time (when working ramps up again or you win another bid or contract) you’ll have a better chance of winning those high-quality candidates back.

Use situations like this as an opportunity to demonstrate what your organization stands for, your values and culture. If you’re not honest and transparent, how will candidates trust and perform their best in your organization?

Whether you’re experiencing the pinch from the economic downturn or are in a unique industry that impacts your hiring process, recruitment stops and starts can be a challenge or an opportunity. Use the right technology – an Applicant Tracking System is vital! – to provide great communication and manage candidate applications. Incorporate talent pooling and a strong employer brand as part of your long-term strategy.

Do you need assistance or advice about managing recruitment stops and starts? Schedule a discussion with our Recruitment Specialists today. Call us on 1 866 474 3140 or fill out the form below.