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5 Secrets to Recruiting in Uncertain Times

5 Secrets to Recruiting in Uncertain Times

Change Brings Opportunity

Ask Your Candidate Sourcers and Recruiting Researchers to Develop Market Intelligence

Recruiting in uncertain times could be the theme of the past couple of years. The pandemic, the economy, the climate, and the political discord. Uncertainty is rarely a good thing for business. Inevitably, uncertainty often leads to economic downturns.

Executive Recruiting is Tethered to the Economy

The longer I recruit senior leadership, the more I see recruiting inextricably linked to the economy. Our finger is on the pulse. At any given time we can give you a pretty accurate read on whether the economy is thriving or headed to the ICU. In fact, the more I recruit, the more think like a VC.

During Disruption, Think Like a Venture Capitalist

At least, that’s what venture capitalist Stewart Alsop observed when we got together at the Money:Tech Conference in New York City, a gathering where Technology meets Wall Street. Stewart is a partner in Alsop Louie Partners, a former general partner with New Enterprise Associates, and the former editor-in-chief and executive vice president of InfoWorld.

Track News, Spot Trends, and Get Out Ahead

Whenever we get together, our conversations careen from the news to relevant startup ideas back to the news back to hot startups. Stewart uses news and economic intelligence to be opportunistic in his investments. He focuses on spotting trends early, tracking a new disruptive technology, and ultimately, getting out in front of everyone else.

Harness the Power of Economic Intelligence

The same approach works well in recruiting. Particularly when times get tough economically, we need to use economic intelligence in executive search research. Economic intelligence will guide us whenever we find ourselves recruiting in uncertain times.

Crush Recruiting With These 5 Secrets

Secret 1: Conserve Cash

Whenever the economy is getting hammered, it is time to sock away as much cash as possible, both personally and professionally. Don’t spend needlessly, and don’t rack up debt. In the wake of the Federal Reserve raising rates to curb skyrocketing inflation, technology stocks lost $3 trillion in market cap by June of 2022. You need the cash to survive.

Adapt to Endure

2022 has alarmed venture capitalists — so much so Sequoia Capital set a 52-page deck to its portfolio leadership called, “Adapting to Endure“. That’s the same venture capital firm that is adept and forecasting trouble times. It issued the “R.I.P. Good Times” memo in 2008 and the “Black Swan” missive in March 2020. Adopting to Endure calls the current environment a “crucible moment.”

Secret 2: Negotiate Better Deals

The tougher times become, the easier it will be to negotiate great deals. So use that to your advantage. If you’re on the corporate side and have a vendor who is non-negotiable, such as a retained or contingency search firm that always charges the same percentage of annual compensation, consider alternatives. Also, expect more from your vendors, such as having the vendor hand over all of its candidate research in addition to all the candidates. Alternatively, you might want to experiment with the economies of scale brought by candidate pipelines in place of hugely inefficient one-off searches.

Secret 3: Grow Your ROI

Recruiting in uncertain times may threaten the livelihoods of corporate recruiters. Sometimes, entire internal executive search teams get shuttered. So if you haven’t taken the time to prove your worth in dollars and cents, you need to start doing the math. Approached the right way, you may uncover hidden ROI to explode your numbers for the better.

Secret 4: Seize Opportunities

Set up alerts in Google News or Indeed to gauge who is hiring or laying off. I just spoke with the CEO of a startup in Silicon Valley who has, within the past two weeks, noticed an uptick in the number of viable candidates at his doorstep, most of them applicants from other startups that ran out of cash. There is opportunity in that.

The upside to recruiting in uncertain times is that great talent becomes easier to acquire. You just have to get those executives first. So use economic intelligence in executive search. Invest in some serious phone ID and org-charting of your favorite target companies and proactively recruit those candidates before they put their resumes on Monster for all the world to see.

Secret 5: Practice Bubble Hopping

When you find yourself recruiting in uncertain times — whenever an economic bubble bursts — hop from one bubble to the next. Instead of worrying about the current bubble that’s deflating, start thinking about where the next one will emerge and pounce on your foresight.

(Originally published on, this article has since been updated.)

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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford

Founder and CEO of Intellerati | The Good Search. Retained executive search headhunter. Former investigative journalist. Wife of saxman. Mama of MD. Co-worker of Hamlet the Corgi. TikTok addict.View Author posts

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