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November 30, 2022
David Connors

How to Adapt your Talent Acquisition Strategy to the Changing Landscape and Layoffs

Lately, it’s felt like every single tech giant out there has had major layoffs — including Amazon, Coinbase, Intel, Meta, Stripe, Twitter, and others. For some companies, these cuts have been coupled with hiring freezes. For others, however, the layoffs have been more about redirecting their investments, and they’ve continued to hire new employees during layoffs.

As companies continue to navigate the changing landscape of the job market, tech layoffs have become a prevalent reality. With the rise of automation and the ongoing pandemic, many tech businesses are reevaluating their workforce needs and restructuring accordingly. This can create a challenge for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals who must adapt their strategies to this new reality. It's important to approach tech layoffs with empathy and understanding, recognizing the impact they have on individuals and families. At the same time, recruiters must be prepared to handle a surge of incoming job applications and develop effective screening processes to ensure they are finding the right talent to fit their organization's needs. By remaining flexible and open-minded, recruiters can navigate this new landscape and help their companies emerge stronger than ever.

Whether your company has laid off employees or not, you might find that navigating hiring and recruiting feels harder than ever these days. Top talent are understandably wary about the state of the tech world today, and you yourself may be unsure whether to scoop up laid-off talent, slow down, or freeze hiring altogether.

So, how can you best navigate this changing landscape? Below, we tackle some of the biggest questions we’re hearing from startups today.

Should you hire people laid off by big tech?

Everyone has seen the LinkedIn posts rounding up the names of the best talent recently laid off by big companies. For many smaller startups, this might seem like the perfect opportunity to pick up some talented and experienced new hires.

Before you start reaching out to these candidates, however, you’ll want to get clear on your company’s needs and what you can offer candidates. Ask yourself:

  • How well does a certain candidate’s competencies align with your job description?
  • Does your company’s compensation structure (including salary, equity, and benefits) match what a candidate might expect from a more established startup?
  • Are you at the stage where you expect candidates to be generalists that wear multiple hats, or are you looking for an expert with more specialized knowledge? Will someone from an established company be able (or even want) to embrace the speed of a fast-moving startup?

For some talent acquisition specialists, thinking through the questions above may lead them to reach out to these individuals, and in that case, that’s wonderful. However, make sure that you’re actually thinking through your needs in detail, rather than assuming individuals will be the right fit due to their experience.

Should you freeze your hiring plans?

Sure, many of the companies laying off employees today overhired in 2019 and 2020 — but many others are preparing for a recession in 2023. According to tech entrepreneur Elad Gil, come next year startups can expect to see their fundraising rounds shrink and client lists drop significantly.

“If 2022 is the hangover after the party where you are still a little drunk but have a headache,” he writes, “2023 may end up more akin to accidentally driving your car into a tree.”

Whether you should freeze hiring or not will truly depend on your growth trajectory and how recession-proof your plans are for the year ahead. However, it’s certainly not a bad idea to be cautious, and we recommend moving from speedy hiring to a slower and more selective recruiting strategy.

To do so, make a list of your essential hires for the next year, and then start building your talent pool today. Move slowly: strengthen your network and connect with potential candidates over time to get a sense of their skill sets and potential to add to the company culture. Ensure that you’re matching individuals to the right job openings, and you’ll have a better chance of entering 2024 with fewer layoffs and higher retention.

How can you increase trust with wary candidates?

If your hiring hasn’t slowed, you’ve likely found that candidates are a bit less trusting these days — and understandably so. Top talent are worried about more layoffs hitting the industry, and they may have doubts about whether an extended job offer will even be honored.

To increase trust, we recommend being patient, focusing on relationship management, and working your network. Many top candidates are weighing their options at the moment, so it’s important that you give them space and answer their questions openly. That transparency will reflect well on your employer brand and culture.

“We share asymmetric information with candidates,” says Nolan Church, Co-Founder and CEO of Continuum. “I’ll share my most recent investor update, board decks, our pitch decks. This is something you’ll never get at a later stage, so you have to lean into what the strengths are for the earlier stage. If you can do it, I think you should.”

You can also increase trust by involving your existing network in talent sourcing. When prospective hires connect to your company through a person that they already know and trust. You can add to this by connecting qualified candidates to trusted members of your team, advisors, or investors during the interview process, which helps build extra social trust.

Keep in mind that having your team reach out to quality candidates during the talent acquisition process doesn’t need to be a high-lift activity, either. Members of your network can record a short yet personalized 30-second video for candidates explaining why they believe in your company. Alternatively, employees can add their professional networks to your company’s collective network to make it easier to reach out to referrals.

As Lauren Ipsen, Director of Executive Talent at General Catalyst, told Lenny’s Podcast

“Regardless of whether or not you’re hiring, you should always be keeping a pulse on the market. … You never want to put yourself in a position where you have no idea what good looks like.

Oftentimes, I encourage founders to simply chat with what good looks like and get a really good sense of what benchmark candidate profiles could be — and who knows where that person will be in a year or what have you? But staying really, really close to really great people and using them from an advising capacity or getting them ingrained in some type of involvement in the product prior to actually having that specific need is really important.”

Adopting network recruiting in a changing landscape

At the Swarm, we help companies build recruiting processes that are based on trusted relationships. Our product — the first network recruiting platform — allows your company to bring your teams’ individual networks into one large, collective network, letting you spark referrals at scale. The result? A pipeline of connected and vetted individuals who are already engaged with your team.

Ready to get started? Get early access today.