During the past few years, companies have hired an influx of employees to deal with the ever-evolving work environment mainly due to COVID-19. Recently, an increase in mass layoffs, company buyouts, and budget cuts have caused the job market to shift. In fact, according to Forbes, nearly 60,000 people were laid off in January 2023 with some major firms announcing thousands of cuts. Oftentimes, these recently laid-off workers are seeking new roles, so how do you go about hiring and retaining the great talent that is suddenly back on the job market?
Understand the terminology
When looking for candidates, it's easy to forget the difference between someone who was laid off versus someone who was fired or furloughed. Remember that most of those who were laid off didn't necessarily have a choice — they were likely a victim of mergers and acquisitions, or perhaps the company was downsizing or trying to reduce costs. They hold no blame for the loss of employment.
Employees who were fired likely lost their job due to poor performance or failure to meet the employer's expectations. Someone who was furloughed has a mandatory temporary leave of absence but is expected to return to work or have a reduced work schedule. Furloughs might occur when an employer doesn't have enough money for payroll or enough work for employees.
Use social media
Social media recruiting is a highly effective strategy to reach a wider range and greater quality of candidates. It's also an excellent way to search for recently laid-off candidates since you can target your job postings instead of simply posting your position on a generic job board. Make sure to utilize the right hashtags and captions to cater your social media post specifically to those who were recently laid off. Captions allow you to explain to your audience about your job and employer brand, so craft a message that lasts. A few tips to remember include the following:
- Regularly engage with your audience. Doing so can build your reputation and increase the number of candidates willing to engage.
- Publish videos to personalize the recruitment process. Include interviews with current employees or create a video of you explaining what the job might entail.
- Join social media groups that cater to the job. Certain social media sites have groups that are made up of others who work in a similar industry so you can connect with people to find qualified candidates.
Recruit employees to spread the word
Don't just limit social media posts to what you can share. Reach out to current employees and encourage them to share content on social media. Make sure you share with them the hashtags they should use to attract candidates. Employees who share content are eight times more engaging than general brand content and have their content shared 25 times more frequently. This strategy creates a more personal experience and can help you reach out to the ideal candidate.
Identify transferrable skills
When you're looking for potential employees, you might need ones who have certain technical skills — but don't forget to consider transferrable skills. These are skills that can be applied across a wide range of industries. Look for people who have strong communication and analytical abilities, leadership capabilities, and project management experience. Oftentimes candidates highlight these skills on a cover letter but don't be afraid to ask them about these skills during an interview.
Once you find potential candidates, you want them to know how valuable their time is. Don't just send one message and write them off if they fail to reply. Depending on their expertise, they might receive several emails and yours might get lost in the mix. Follow up with at least two or three more messages so you can show how much you're interested in them. While you can send them a general email for the first time, try to cater follow-up emails to the specific person.
"Post on job boards that cater to underserved communities, reach out to veterans' groups to see if any candidates fulfill your job requirements, and consider prioritizing diversifying initiatives."
It's important to remember that these laid-off employees didn't necessarily choose to be without a job, so they might be apprehensive, confused, or even hurt about their situation. Some might have given years of their life to a company that decided to let them go. While you're hoping to hire them, they might be hesitant to make the jump. Address their uncertainty and reassure them that you empathize with their situation. Offer them support in the form of a new career, if they're open to this opportunity.
In addition to being sensitive to the candidates' recent change of employment, you don't want to string them along and get their hopes up. Displacement causes uncertainty among potential candidates and might make them hesitant to begin a new job with a different employer. To quell these fears, make sure you're being forthright with your candidates.
Be clear about the job requirements — for example, if the job is fully remote, hybrid, or in-person. Be direct in your conversations, especially since these candidates are already dealing with rejection. If you know the candidate isn't a good fit for the role, don't continue the interview process unless you know of another job opportunity that might be more beneficial.
Highlight opportunities and not necessarily salary
If you're searching for excellent talent, you want to pay attention to insights offered by potential candidates. According to the Harvard Business Review, even before the pandemic, nine out of 10 employees stated they would give up a higher income to engage in more meaningful work. Even after the pandemic, those numbers remained high. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer stated that about 60% of employees selected their current job because it aligned with their values.
As a result, you need to pay attention to these insights because you could offer laid-off employees a competitive salary, yet they still might not jump at the opportunity if the job doesn't fulfill their needs. They want companies that offer flexibility, provide opportunities for growth, and align with their core values. Consider the candidates' short- and long-term goals, and determine if you and your company are willing to go above and beyond to secure those ideal candidates.
Elevate your brand
Along the same lines of catering to potential candidates, you should highlight your company. A brand is everything, so use this time to create a feeling of inclusion. If massive layoffs occur, odds are that company that laid off the employees received negative publicity. You can do the opposite and come in as the knight in shining armor by offering these laid-off employees an opportunity to work for your company. Hiring these employees can show that your company is responsive and empathetic.
Expand your recruiting horizons
You've likely been taught that the traditional way of recruiting is to look at the candidate's schooling and former employer, but you don't learn everything this way. Eliminating someone simply because they lack a specific pedigree might be a mistake. According to a study conducted by Inavero on behalf of CareerBuilder, candidates consult up to 18 resources throughout their job search.
Take advantage of the many resources available and diversify your hiring methods. Post on job boards that cater to underserved communities, reach out to veterans' groups to see if any candidates fulfill your job requirements, and consider prioritizing diversifying initiatives. Sourcing candidates from untraditional locations can ensure you'll reach the best of the best, regardless of where you found them.
Oftentimes recruiters want to land elusive candidates, which are usually people who already have a job, because it's a more challenging endeavor. While presently employed candidates might seem more appealing, those who recently were laid off shouldn't be ignored. Use these tips to help you find the best candidates for your job openings.
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