The Great Resignation: How Recruiting Teams Can Stay Ahead

These past two years have been a lot. From extremely low unemployment to hiring freezes to a shift in the way people factor work into their lives, the work world is changing. Though newly-dubbed, The Great Resignation isn’t coming as a major surprise for many people. As Shon Burton mentioned in a recent interview with RecruitingDaily:

Shon Burton

 “…What’s really interesting about this post-pandemic world is that it basically hit the reset button for everybody. It paused the rat wheel, hamster wheel, and it let us just step off of it for a minute. And now everyone in the world, I think, is looking back at it, going, hang on a second. Now, do I want to get back on that wheel, and start doing the same thing as I was and just running in place? Do I want to get back on that treadmill or do I want to do something different? Is there a new opportunity for me?”

As people question what they want, recruiting teams are tasked with appealing to workers. Let’s dive into the Great Resignation, where it came from, and what companies and recruiting teams can do to stay ahead.

What Is The Great Resignation?

Simply put, The Great Resignation is a recent shift in the work world that has led to millions of employees quitting their jobs. While it’s not uncommon for workers to leave, this shift feels different.

As NPR wrote, “In normal times, people quitting jobs in large numbers signals a healthy economy with plentiful jobs. But these are not normal times. The pandemic led to the worst U.S. recession in history, and millions of people are still out of jobs. Yet employers are now complaining about acute labor shortages.”

In general, The Great Resignation seems to be caused by the pandemic rather than the normal fluctuations of the economy. But the direct causes are worth noting.

The need for personal boundaries and prioritizing needs

When people quit a job, it often stems from a need to reprioritize themselves and their needs. For whatever reason, the job they have isn’t adding value to their life. At worst, it is detrimental to their physical or mental health.

The desire to work from home

The pandemic gave a powerful lesson to the world: A ton of our jobs can be done remotely. It requires effort, compassion, empathy, and incredible skill at communicating. Still, while steadily growing in popularity, remote work has exploded recently as a benefit that workers are making a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.

As offices begin to open up and workers are told to come back to an office after 18 months of successfully working remotely, it’s not surprising to see an increase in resignations.

Burnout and lack of support

These past years haven’t been easy for anyone, but “essential workers” have faced a particular set of challenges. While some workers were able to shift to at-home work and maybe even cultivate more productive relationships with their work, essential employees were faced with the brunt of the health dangers of the pandemic.

Grocery store cashiers, nurses, doctors, emergency personnel, and more have been considered essential even through the most dangerous times. The stress they’ve faced has culminated in burnout at rates never seen before.

Lower-wage workers have had to come to terms with the fact that their paycheck hasn’t matched the effort they put in each day. While dubbed “heroes,” they were still faced with overwhelming physical, mental, and financial stress.

The role of social justice and equity

The summer of 2020 brought one of the most significant social justice movements in U.S. history. With it, employees began to investigate their own companies’ dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Pay discrepancies and workplace harassment were shared publicly, and companies began to stand for their culture.

How Recruiting Teams Can Handle The Great Resignation

Many recruiters aren’t solely responsible for a company’s culture. So how can they manage hiring during The Great Resignation when culture is so essential to job seekers?

While you as a recruiter can’t single-handedly create and monitor the company’s culture, there are a few things within your purview that can help you face The Great Resignation.

For recruiting teams, the problem is apparent: The people you are working to recruit are looking for specific experiences, and your hiring manager needs you to make hires as quickly as possible to confront the staffing shortage they’re facing. So what can you do?

Understand Your Data and What You’re Working With

Start with where you’re at. You often don’t need to rip out and replace all of your systems or processes. But the chances are that you do need to optimize them to suit your goals better.

Whether you choose to add Talent Intelligence to your existing systems or check in on your pipelines, you need to understand what you’re working with. Where does your data live? What quality state is it in? When was the last time you reached out to your pipelines

It may seem counterintuitive to slow down in a candidate-driven market and check in on where you’re at and what you have, but the pause will pay off. Job candidates want to work for a company that values quality. You can be an example of that quality work by transitioning into a Talent Advisor and using your skills, experience, and data to optimize your recruiting processes.

Know What You’re Looking For

How can you use your skills as a Talent Advisor to guide hiring managers in the right direction? With a candidate-driven market, communication with hiring managers becomes even more critical. 

When candidates are on the hunt for a new job, they want consistency and transparency from the people they work with. To provide that consistency and clarity to candidates, you need to receive it from your hiring managers.

Before moving forward with a requisition, ask the right questions and hold hiring managers responsible for being accurate. This will make your sourcing more efficient and allow you to find the right candidate quicker, and the candidates can feel secure knowing that you are acting in their best interest.

Play a Role in Company Culture

You may not be able to control company culture single-handedly, but as the steward of that culture to interested candidates, you should be playing a role. If you have an Employer Branding or Recruitment Marketing team, great! Partner with them to talk over how you can collaborate and tackle this new market.

If you are on a smaller team, you can lead the charge by advocating for the needs of job seekers and candidates.

According to the Pulse of the American Worker survey,  87% of workers who worked from home during the pandemic would like to continue doing so at least one day a week. Meanwhile, flexible work schedules, mobile opportunities, and remote-work options are the top three benefits job seekers look for.

76% of job seekers and employees report that a diverse workforce is important when evaluating companies. And some teams have even made pay transparency a priority.

What about onboarding and retention? Can you ensure that the candidates you’re working with get a quality onboarding experience and an inclusive workplace? If not, can you take part in making it better?

Optimize Your Candidate Experience

It’s a candidate’s market, and if there’s one thing that a recruiter can take an active role in changing, it’s the candidate experience. Thankfully, optimizing a candidate’s experience in your hiring process can be pretty straightforward.

Be prepared: Make it clear to the person you’re interviewing that you prepped for this interview. You can’t always spend tons of time for every interview. But a quick confirmation about their work experience or skills will show the candidate that you put some time in. According to Indeed, it takes an average of 5 – 10 hours for a candidate to prep for an interview so let’s lead by example and do some prep on our end.

Don’t ghost: We’re living in an era of automation, and there’s no better place to use it than ensuring that communication isn’t dropped. Whether you set up actual emails to go out automatically or schedule time in your calendar to follow up with anyone in need, making sure that you don’t ghost is an easy way to make candidates feel valued.

Respect Candidates’ Time: Do you know how long it will take for you to get back to the candidate? What about how many interviews will the process require? It’s important to remember that many candidates are willing to go through a lot for the right role. But respecting their time and showing that you value how much effort they’re putting in is critical. As the recruiter or interviewer for a role, you may not feel in a power position, but you are for a candidate. Be transparent whenever you can and set a tone of respect and compassion for all of your candidates.


All in all, it’s a stressful time for everyone at the moment. Staying ahead means staying compassionate and aware of the needs of both yourself and the candidates you’re working with.

Don't stop now. Keep reading!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap