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Hiring in a Recession Is Easy, Right? Wrong!

You know that we like the bright side of every situation at EdgeLink. In fact, we pride ourselves on making opportunities out of every challenge. But when clients ask us if the recession has made recruitment easier, we don’t dress up reality. Hiring top talent today is even harder than it was before the downturn began.

It’s counterintuitive but true. The growing numbers of job seekers have certainly resulted in a deluge of resumes across the desks of hiring managers everywhere. Quantity is up. The quality of candidates applying, on the other hand, has not skyrocketed because employers are holding tightly to their best performers and top innovators. Whether you have 30 resumes or 300, your ratio of qualified, sought-after candidates versus unqualified candidates remains the same as it was a year ago.

Should the fact that those towering resume piles (or bursting inboxes) only contain a few outstanding hires prevent your business from raising hiring standards? Absolutely not. Downturns are as much about opportunity as they are about challenge. They offer opportunities to advance far beyond the competition, opportunities to surpass customer expectations and opportunities distinguish your business from those paralyzed by recession fear through innovation and market leadership.

A business staffed with skillful, bright, committed and hardworking team members is one that can take advantage of the opportunities the recession presents and continue to build upon them well into the recovery. So we at EdgeLink enthusiastically encourage you to raise the recruiting bar and use the following tips to modify your recruiting strategy in order to find and hire the best of the best.

EdgeLink’s Recession Recruitment Strategy Tips

— Adjust your Clock. Be prepared for a longer hiring cycle. Remind yourself and business leaders that a great hire is a much sounder bottom-line investment than a mediocre hire that can fill the job but not fulfill high expectations.

— Be Finicky and Fast. If the cover letter is submitted and is weak or the resume has holes that give you certain pause, move on. Committing to finding the best hires means being willing to letting go of the average ones right away.

— Increase Interviewing. Even with the industry resources and state-of-the-art resume analysis tools we use at EdgeLink to identify talent, we are dramatically increasing our candidate interview numbers. Our interview rates have more than tripled since first quarter of 2008.

More interviewing is essential today because a greater numbers of applicant resumes will line up with your required profile in terms of skills and experience. Only a smart, efficient interviewing process will allow you to identify cream of the crop professionals who have the essential soft skills (communications, professionalism, team orientation, etc.) and character traits (intellectual curiosity, passion, drive) your business is seeking. To increase interviewing efficiency, EdgeLink suggests:

— Using short, pre-screening phone interviews to eliminate any problem candidates. If resources and time are short, work with a third-party recruitment partner like EdgeLink that has the technology, team and track record to quickly and successfully identify the very best candidates.

— Developing and using one standard, simple questionnaire for each position. Ensuring standardization of the questioning will make comparisons easier.

— Setting strict time limits and letting the candidate know why—the applicant pool is very big. By limiting the time to make an impression, you heighten the importance of each question and challenge the candidate to rise to the occasion.

— Integrate passive recruitment efforts. The best candidates in the marketplace are in jobs right now—succeeding at other companies. If you want to employ the best of the best, your recruitment strategy will need to include passive candidate recruitment, which requires networking and some headhunting on behalf of your recruitment team.

— Build a Bench. Even if you are not hiring right now, it’s a great moment to build a bench of enthusiastic potential hires you can turn to when a position opens up. Continue general recruitment efforts and keep an eye out for outstanding professionals at networking and industry events. Be sure to include your recruiters and recruiting partners in all bench-building efforts and make sure they are updated to essential changes, such as evolving technology platforms. The better informed your recruiting team is the better your hiring results will be.

As always, recruitment is an important challenge. However, in these tough economic and job market times, it’s a very good one to have.

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