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Talent acquisition is facing surges in hiring for some roles and full cutbacks for others. Whether hiring is surging or stopped, there are some clear sentiments and trends that will outlast this period of social distancing. As uncertainty reigns, we might think pulling back is necessary, but if we adapt and get creative, the benefits can help build strategy and shape decision-making for long-term success.

A Harvard Business Review(1) study of the past three large economic downturns in the U.S. aimed to calculate what successful companies did to come out of these recessions above their competitors. The result: companies that were able to find a unique balance between purely preventative or purely promotional strategies. We share what this could look like if we apply a similar formula to our approach to talent acquisition.

  • Pulling back where necessary without losing market share
  • Improving operational efficiencies — leveraging technologies and your current toolkit to the fullest potential
  • Making strategic and imaginative investments or shifting resources to suit candidate needs, motivations and trends

In the face of fluctuating hiring needs, we need to maintain innovation and employee satisfaction by making smart tactical decisions within our strategies, leveraging resources in new ways and reimagining our current processes.

If you have roles on the front lines, then advertisements pushing for applications make sense and candidates in need of those jobs will be happy to see those ads and take you up on those positions. But what if you are only hiring for select roles, or tougher yet, not hiring at all?

Eventually, you’ll want to hire again and you don’t want to lose visibility entirely in the interim, as that could make coming back that much harder. In this case, you may benefit from rethinking your employer brand strategy. This could take the form of new or simpler messaging — a softer approach to nurture your employer brand or open an opportunity to get in the consideration set of new prospects. With new messaging, you need to consider new candidate needs, motivations and expectations.

Because of our network and subject matter expertise, we’re in a unique position to be able to provide innovative insight to our customers.

TMP’s benchmark data shows us that during this time, candidates are looking even harder at brand mission and value statements. There is more of a focus on being at a company with strong values — for the community and for its employees.

  • Where to start?
    • Look at candidate trends within your data — what are candidates searching and what content are they viewing — analyze how their motivations are changing through things like surveys. Remember to ensure your messaging addresses these trends.
    • Enact your mission by engaging audiences with what your brand is doing or sharing what others are doing that align with your brand. You can do this by donating where you can and sharing how others can donate to causes that your organization is proud to promote. You could also take part in community hashtags and national/global campaigns.
    • Nurture internal talent and demonstrate that your employees are your most valuable asset.

Sometimes you can say a lot without having to say too much.

We also know from our research within the TMP Labs team that candidates are using this time to learn new skills, try new hobbies and stay connected with their friends and family in new ways. This offers us an opportunity to leverage our ad spend on new and engaging platforms.

Let’s introduce ourselves where candidates are spending this time and offer what we can to help them grow:

  • The global e-learning market is fast-growing and expected to reach $398 billion come 2026(2)
    • What if we used this time to build content for interns, for example, who we can’t teach on the job with social distancing and changing programs?
    • Onboarding and training manuals can help provide coursework and content ideas
  • Leverage consumer and cultural trends to help understand what matters to candidates
    • Candidates learning to bake bread or looking for exercise content will go to search engines to find articles and videos for more information
    • Programmatic advertising can help get your content where it will be viewed most through an automated and optimized process
  • Esports and gaming are markets that were already growing and are now seeming to accelerate due to social distancing by passionate fans and new hobbyists, opening a newer medium for employer branding
  • Analyze your site data and use this time to make adjustments where you find opportunities to enhance the candidate experience and use cultural trends to optimize keyword and content strategies

Our social media experts have also reported on candidates and consumers eagerly looking for more information from companies throughout the candidate journey. They want to hear from those on the front lines and from leaders within your company. So, how do you start the dialogue?

  • New and existing technologies can help you get there with automation to scale when things pick up
    • Chatbots can be used to help search on site and respond to questions that candidates need answers to (you can even write scripts to help answer key questions you’re getting a lot, for example, a new virtual interview process)
    • There are newer offerings as well that allow for chat within a display ad, so you can get to know prospects and immediately offer them relevant real estate within your career site
  • Opening the conversation up on social channels can be a quick and easy way to understand the questions being asked and be there to answer them
    • TMP offers leadership support on social channels as well as organic and paid employer brand strategies to answer questions from all levels within the company
  • As we see candidate visits to career sites on the decline in impacted industries, we should also consider how to better leverage the technology we’re using to nurture the talent who finds us
    • TB360 retargeting strategies can help you make the most out of each career site visit and prospecting enables your advertising to get in front of candidates looking for similar roles through programmatic
  • This is a good time to start implementing a talent nurturing strategy as well. You have the talent in your database and can use this time to ensure you’re using your CRM to its full potential. Most CRMs will allow you to automate these processes so you can test, measure and enhance your outreach for scale when your TA hiring needs pick back up

These tactics allow brands to promote and prove their values, stay relevant and nurture talent relationships — which are all things that can outlast the current landscape and push the needle on strategies moving forward. Solving our clients’ TA challenges means knowing their businesses, brands and goals — and being there for them with innovative tools, creative solutions and perspectives — every step of the way.


  1. https://hbr.org/2010/03/roaring-out-of-recession
  2. https://financesonline.com/elearning-trends/

About Casey Brusch

Casey Brusch is a Digital Strategist in our San Francisco office with a background in content marketing strategy, technical SEO and website development with a focus on UX. She’s worked on digital strategies with clients in an array of industries, including recruiting and staffing, ecommerce and IT. She started her career in promotions and engagement and email marketing for a company that helped clients find and hire top programmers. She then moved to an account management role in content marketing and digital strategy that allowed her to add to her expertise with a larger digital marketing mix.

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