Earlier this week, a former colleague of mine reached out on Facebook and asked, “Hey, can you come and inspire my team on how to use this downtime? I have a great team and they just need a pep talk.”

I was honored, of course, then terrified. All of my speeches have been about how to survive talent scarcity at 2.5% unemployment and find the time in your day to learn new technology.  “Adapt and Evolve” was my drum. In a few short days, could I come up with three activities that really add value for a recruiter or sourcer that can help them survive these dark times? 

Then it hit me. I survived the dot-com bubble, Y2K, the 9/11 recession, Telecom scandals, and 2008. What did I do then? What would I tell my BFF tomorrow if they wanted to survive as a Recruiter/Sourcer today?  (You all know by now that I use these titles synonymously. Love to debate that someday…but focus, Heather, focus…)

Top 3 Things Recruiters / Sourcers Can Do Today

While the Economy Rebounds

Study the Art of Storytelling

It doesn’t matter if it’s a candidate or a hiring manager; we as professionals need to be able to bring people on a journey of understanding. Science and research shows the fastest and best way to influence is through stories. But storytelling is a skill, not a gift. Like any other skill, you can strengthen it by practicing it and learning from others. In time, you will sound like it is your gift, and you can be proud because you developed it within yourself.

To get you started, check out this blog on the subject by Jan Tegze, published by Sourcecon.

In 2016, I learned it was necessary to tell hiring leaders a story in order to help them understand that the current talent market we were facing was one of scarcity.  Operations managers and vice presidents are so busy doing their own intense day-to-day work, that they don’t know of market constrictions and the reality of competition. They only saw and heard that on the internet that LinkedIn had 400 million members. They believed that if you searched for an industrial salesperson with an MBA from your competitor, you would find a whole list of “applicants” right at your fingertips. 

“So why, Mrs. Recruiter, are you telling me this job is hard to fill? I can see 100 people right now, right through this Gogglebox on my office desk.”

I hope you can see the problem. They were not privy to the reality that just because someone is on LinkedIn that they want to come work for YOU!  

Now that the world is flipped upside down, I can just hear the hiring managers…”There are millions of people out of work. All I need you to do is find me a Quantum Scientist with a PhD that is published in an academic journal that has been read by a thousand people. This should not be a problem with 20% unemployment.”

The hard truth is that certain talent markets are always going to be hard to fill. It is our job as Talent Acquisition professionals to help them understand the realities. Maybe there are a bunch of Quantum Scientists looking for work, or maybe there are only 100 in the whole country that meet the qualifications and all of them are gainfully employed.

Now you need to get the skills to bring the facts plus connect the dots (i.e. story) to be the partner you need to be to the hiring leader.

Aggressively Map Your Talent & Build Relationships

Now is the time to aggressively build relationships. Pick up the phone. Make 20 calls and send 30 emails a day.

“Hi, how are you? Let’s be friends for whatever future might come. Let’s chat, human style, no hard agenda.” That’s the tone you want to be bringing to these moments. 

You don’t have to have a job open if you are talking to the right people in your industry. Being in their business gives you the credibility to speak with them. Reach out to talented people and connect the dots for them too. Tell them about your company’s long-term vision. Be memorable.

Think of yourself as an agent of serendipity; who knows how the world may lead to you helping that person land their next job or fill the job you need filled when hiring returns. 

You don’t have to talk to people that have zero connection to your business. That’s unnecessary. Talk to people in your industry. Collect business intelligence, but also share what you see, hear and feel. Business is all about relationships.

Now, what do you do with the intel?  If you have a CRM or ATS, collect it there. If not, this Sourcecon article has a great way to do it manually using Excel.

Shameless plug: HiringSolved software does talent mapping and insights automatically. You can email me at heather@hiringsolved.com for more info.

Have a Growth Mindset

Sometimes we don’t have a choice about how we can react to a trauma. In this pandemic, we can control ourselves. We can stay home, take care of ourselves, take care of people around us and do what we can to support others. And goodness knows we have time on our hands.

  • Start reading anything that inspires you. Join a reading club. Use Audible or Readitfor.me. Even local libraries now offer digital apps where you can download books to your smartphone. Some of my favorite reads have been:

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Predictably Irrational by Daniel Ariely
Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath
The Rare Find by George Anders
Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  • Start mapping your candidate experience and analyze all of your HR Technology. Kevin Grossman and the Talent Board hosted a very good webinar on April 7th that identified the gains a department can achieve by using this time to improve candidate experience. We all talk about wanting the time to map out the process and improve the gaps. Well, maybe now is the time! It will pay major dividends if you can focus a small team and identify the problems and solutions during this downturn. 

Of course, what the future looks like will be uncertain. But what is certain is that any employee that is focused on adding value to their company increases their personal worth. 

If you have the time, do what you can to fight the black hole of depression and despair. Instead, invest in valuing up. I promise it will serve you for the rest of your career.