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How to Recruit Software Engineers during an economic downturn

By Dan Clouting. Dan is a Senior Consultant at Zeren, and is a member of our UK team, as a part of our Technology hiring vertical.

When reflecting on the current economic situation, it can feel a little like impending doom. Rent and food prices are rising; inflation is high; and then, of course, a lot of people are fearing the worst regarding their jobs.


But, when hiring Software Engineers for your team, it is important to react, adapt, and execute what you can execute in different market conditions. Always ask yourself: How can I use this situation to my advantage?


This article will explore the advantages of continuing to recruit Software Engineers during an economic downturn and, also, the best way to be successful in that pursuit.


One benefit of recruiting during a financial recession is the opportunity to acquire an upper hand over your competitors in both your industry and candidate market. Some businesses are going to have no other choice but to lose some of their most valuable Software Engineers. In normal conditions, these candidates are difficult to engage with, let alone secure for your team. However, now, they are going to need a new role and therefore are a far more active audience.


As well as that, team morale is likely to soar if you continue to recruit new Software Engineers. It doesn’t matter whether they were the only employee laid off at their business or the entire team was disbanded, if you have as a business recognise their value by hiring them, they are going to be grateful and, in turn, bring their highest energy and productivity. Almost always the longest tenures for Software Engineers are from those who were hired during a tough economic period because they are more likely to want to reward you with their loyalty.


It is, however, one thing to continue to interview and another to, in fact, hire new staff. Here are my 4 top tips to hire Software Engineers successfully during an economic downturn:


Don’t think short-term, think long-term

Ask any executive during the 2008 financial crisis and they will say that selectively hiring high-performing employees from competitors regardless of whether they were hiring for that vacancy was the best thing they did during that period.


By being more open-minded to horseshoe an exceptional and available Software Engineer into the team, there are potential disruptions in the short term. However, it can be argued that the long-term goals of investing in them will far outweigh short-term disruption. After all, as referred to earlier, they are going to be extremely loyal to you and are likely to stay for an extended period and have a considerable impact on the business.


Act fast!

Naturally, for an unemployed and available Software Engineer, the security of employment is a significant motivating factor. For this reason, it can be tough for them to delay accepting an offer for the potential of another.


Find a way that you can make your hiring process more efficient while retaining an effective technical assessment because, if you are the first company to offer, your likelihood of securing the candidate improves drastically during an economic downturn.


Plan for a significant rise in applications

It is obvious to point out that fewer job openings and increased available Software Engineers will mean a greater influx of applications and it can be overwhelming. Ensure that you have a system in place that means you do not inadvertently overlook strong Software Engineers.


As alluded to in my second tip, if you have a backlog of applications to get through and the strongest candidate is at the bottom of the list you are going to be delayed from starting the process with them meaning a decreased probability of securing them.


Stay consistent with your employer brand

During a financial crisis, standards around how you look after your staff can slip. It can feel as though it is low down on the priority list because you want to keep attention to navigating the ship through the murky waters. However, how you manage and care for your staff during this period is how you will be perceived for a long time.


Ask the Software Engineers what their challenges are during this time and consider ways that you can support them through that. Not only is that going to allow you to retain them, but it also shows to the market that even when push comes to shove you will always protect them. From a broader perspective, your clients may prefer to support companies that they know are caring for their employees meaning it could help drive sales.


Ultimately, recruiting Software Engineers is rarely if ever simple however different market conditions pose different challenges. By recognising the competitive advantage you can gain by continuing to hire during this period and implementing some of the processes outlined in this article, you will see long-term results.