Managing Talent in a Tight Job Market

Feb 21, 2023 | HR/Talent

As companies slowdown in the hiring process or continue to layoff employees, there are a few ways to prepare for a tight job market. If you are the COO of your company, it is your time to shine to help prepare and motivate others during challenging times.

As reported by Forbes on January 23rd, 2023 by Kara Dennison.

How Recruiters And Hiring Teams Can Prepare For A Tighter Job Market

By the end of 2022, the labor market was at odds with signs of a slowing economy. While inflation rose, hiring managers enjoyed a promising pool of newly available talent.

Though the stability of the labor market this year remains uncertain, some recruitment teams are preparing for a tightening market. Major corporations continue to lay off workers and implement hiring freezes, which rings all too familiar with the 2008 recession. As a result, companies are slowing down on talent acquisition to conserve funds.

On the other hand, unemployment rates are about as low as pre-pandemic rates, which means this is a good time for recruitment teams to develop hiring strategies. How can recruiters and hiring teams prepare for a tighter job market and still be set up for success this year?

Reevaluate Your Company’s Salary Structure

Since the job market is currently steady, professionals looking for new employment are in a position to have higher expectations for starting salaries. In addition, people already employed are seeking higher pay—with the average US pay increase projected to hit 4.6% this year, according to SHRM.

Firms must stay on pace with or upsurge market averages to compete better with other employers. According to the same SHRM study, insufficient pay is the biggest reason driving high turnover rates.

Recruitment teams can benchmark their salary structures and compensation packages during this time. Salary benchmarking can start with sitting down with your team and reviewing the metrics by which pay increases are offered. Do incentives and packages still align core company objectives with the needs of stakeholders?

After your firm’s objectives are reviewed, leaders can begin defining their market competitors. Be as specific as possible in naming and evaluating rival companies to best strategize around reforming your salary structures.

Don’t Forget Your Recent Hires

Once recruiters and hiring managers have found the right fit and onboarded new hires, it’s easy to move on to the next hiring target. Recruiters and hiring managers too often rely on other employees to do the work of helping new hires cohere to company culture.

But most new employees know within the first six months whether they want to remain with the organization. Because retention is just as much of a concern to recruiters as talent acquisition, managers should focus on recent hires with the same enthusiasm.

Checking in with recent hires will go a long way in retaining talent. Ask new hires what the everyday work experience is like for them. What are they working on? What projects do they hope to work on? Is there anything unexpected that new hires have encountered?

These check-ins will help recruiters understand what prospective candidates look for in new employers. And asking these questions will also nurture trust in your new and existing employees.

Emphasize DE&I in Recruitment Practices & Hiring Tools

DE&I hiring processes can be complicated for recruitment teams who are eager, if not desperate, to fill positions when turnover is high. Leaders might be sincere in their plans to promote diversity and inclusion but face burnout and frustration from employees who have to pick up the slack when someone leaves.

That’s where a tight labor market has a silver lining: recruitment teams will have the perfect opportunity to focus on their DE&I hiring strategies. Remember that diversity, equality, and inclusion aren’t just about hiring diverse groups of people. The real work in DE&I practices lies in the hiring process. Many firms have already implemented unconscious bias training for their teams.

For instance, review all the language of your interview questions. Are there other questions that might be more effective indicators of qualification? You want to ensure that your existing hiring processes aren’t accidentally excluding qualified candidates who can become DE&I hires. Recruiters and hiring managers should revise job descriptions and postings to ensure that inclusivity is at the heart of the mission.

Recruiters should also conduct full audits of hiring data, especially when AI tools weed out hundreds of qualified applicants. Evaluate when and where underrepresented candidates are dropping out of the pool and see where you can keep those candidates going strong in the competition.

Promote Upskilling and Staff Development

Most leaders know the value of reskilling and upskilling, especially for high potential candidates who are hungry for self-development. Potential hires want companies that care about career trajectory and growth. The new generation of hires value upskilling opportunities when deciding whether employers are the right fit for their ambitions.

When talking to potential candidates, recruitment teams should emphasize upskilling opportunities at their firms. Let new hires know your company invests in career progression for all its employees. Above all else, the most desirable candidates want to know that there’s room for upward mobility within the company.

And if this is the message you’re offering prospective talent, the same should be true for your current staff. So how can you help your current teams elevate their skill sets? Conduct evaluations, not performance reviews, to determine where skill gaps might exist and how your team might fill them.

Talent acquisition teams should also coordinate plans for learning, especially for themselves. Whatever limited downtime there is in recruitment should be spent on pursuing certifications and professional development courses so that managers can keep up with recruitment trends and best retention practices.

Don’t let these uncertain times scare you, just stay informed and prepared!

Additional Talent Resources

COO Guide to Talent Onboarding

Chief Operating Officers Leadership Style

Chief Operating Officer Best Practices


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