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Recruiting in a Bear Market: Top Strategies by HR Leader Adrian Tan

“As time goes on, it is clear that talent acquisition professionals will need to be able to navigate bear markets and other difficult economic conditions. However, by staying ahead of the curve and investing in innovative strategies and technologies, recruiters can easily achieve their goals.”

Adrian Tan
Fractional CMO for HR Vendors
Adrian Tan on Recruiting in a Bear Market


As we navigate the ups and downs of the economy, one of the most critical challenges talent acquisition professionals face is how to recruit effectively during a bear market. 

In these challenging times, job seekers are more cautious about changing jobs, and organizations are cutting back on hiring. To succeed in this environment, recruiters must be creative, persistent, and adaptable. 

Let me help you explore some of the best practices and tactics you can use to navigate such a market. 

What is a Bear Market? 

A bear market is characterized by declining economic growth, falling stock prices, and rising unemployment. This can create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety for job seekers, who may be more hesitant to leave their current jobs due to the fear of being unemployed.

At the same time, companies may be more hesitant to hire new employees or may be forced to cut back on their workforce to reduce costs. This means fewer job openings may be available, making competition for these positions super intense.

What does that indicate for recruiting teams? 

It means a shift in focus from traditional recruitment methods to more targeted and personalized approaches.

You must be more sensitive to job seekers’ unique concerns and priorities in a bear market. This may include a greater focus on job security, opportunities for career advancement, and solid organizational culture.

Here are three things that you can start looking at to work towards a better fill rate during a bear market:

1. Building Relationships

Building solid relationships with candidates is essential to recruiting in any market, but is imperative when the job market is tough. In a bear market, candidates may be more selective about the companies they consider and may be hesitant to leave their current job for an uncertain opportunity.

Creating a strong employer brand is one effective strategy for building relationships with candidates. This involves developing a clear and compelling message that communicates the unique value proposition of your organization. 

By focusing on recruitment marketing, you can attract the top talent aligned with your organization’s values and mission, which are more likely to be an excellent cultural fit.

Another critical aspect is to be proactive in your outreach efforts. This means identifying potential candidates through various channels, including social media, professional networks, and employee referrals. You can establish a rapport and gain their trust by reaching out to potential candidates.

Once you do that, it’s essential to maintain regular communication. This can include regular updates on the status of their application, personalized messages that address their specific interests and concerns, and invitations to events or networking opportunities.

Similarly, a candidate that is just window shopping would differ from one who just got laid off by the company. Hence, they should get different messages that make the most sense during that period.

A tool like Dover can achieve message customization and scale at the same time.

By building a bond with your applicants, you can create a pipeline of top talent that can be tapped into as new opportunities arise. 

2. Embracing Technology

#RecTech has become an indispensable tool for recruiters, and it can be precious during a bear market. By leveraging recruitment technology, you can streamline recruitment and attract top talent more efficiently.

One of the most effective ways is to use an applicant tracking system. Right from posting job listings to reviewing resumes to scheduling interviews, a robust recruiting software can do it all. 

By automating manual hiring tasks, ATS systems can free up time and resources for recruiters, allowing them to focus on more strategic work.

Another critical use of technology in the recruitment process is data analytics. By collecting and analyzing data on job seekers and the recruitment process, you can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their recruitment strategies. 

This can help recruiters refine their approach and identify areas for improvement, leading to a more organized recruitment process.

Finally, virtual recruiting and interviewing tools have become increasingly important in a post-pandemic world. Using chatbots like impress.ai and Paradox, recruiters can deploy positive applicants’ experiences at scale.

3. Leveraging Social Media

Recruiting professionals can leverage social media to target these individuals and connect with them about potential job opportunities.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be used to search for individuals who have recently updated their profiles to indicate that they are no longer employed. 

Recruiters can then reach out to these individuals with personalized messages highlighting relevant job opportunities within their organization. 

By reaching out to individuals who have recently undergone a layoff, you can tap into a pool of talented individuals who may be actively seeking new opportunities.

Additionally, social media can help you connect with individuals currently employed but may be considering a move within their company. By building relationships with these individuals over time and staying in touch about potential job opportunities, you can create a pipeline of potential candidates interested in their organization.

A tool like Magical would make it easier to tailor predefined prospecting messages by automating the inclusion of their first name. 

In Final Words

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, you must be more adaptable and creative with your hiring strategies than ever before. But, as we’ve seen, a downturn can pose significant challenges for recruiters, ranging from a smaller pool of job seekers to increased competition for top talent.

On the other hand, you can continue to attract and retain top talent even in challenging market conditions by taking a proactive and strategic approach to recruitment.

Finally, the ability to adapt and innovate in response to the changing market conditions will determine the success of your talent acquisition process in a bear market. 


Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan is a former HR entrepreneur turned B2B marketing strategist. As one of the Top Global Influencers in HR Tech by AIHR, Adrian writes extensively about the Future of Work on adriantan.com.sg and is the creator of the Singapore HR Tech Market Map. He also hosts The Adrian Tan podcast where he interviews people who are enabling the Future of Work.

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