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Recruiting in a recession: 3 ways to stay relevant

Recruiting in a recession: 3 ways to stay relevant

International markets and economic activities are put into a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, derailing the global economy. For the first time in over twenty years, the Philippines is on the brink of recession, in the middle of the worldwide economic derailment.

What is a recession? According to, a recession is a significant decline in economic activity that may last months or even years. It is characterized by rising unemployment levels, falling retail sales, and a negative gross domestic product (GDP). While it is considered an expected part of the economic and business cycle, the spiral towards recession caused by the pandemic has sent many sectors reeling.

The effect of recession on employment

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, an estimated additional five to ten million jobs are expected to be lost because of the pandemic. Many businesses have shifted to survival strategies, re-optimizing expenditures. 

However, as the local economy slowly reopens with the easing of lockdown measures, the number of unemployed Filipinos is expected to lower. According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country's unemployment rate is placed at 10 percent in July. This is a reduction from the 17.7 percent, the highest record yet, during the middle of the most stringent community quarantine. 

There is a strong current of optimism toward business resurgence in the Philippines. Based on’s latest study, hirers remain positive toward their own organizations, with a mix of roles to be filled out in the next six months.

Hirer attitudes toward their own organizations


How does recession affect recruitment?

There is no doubt that recession will change how recruitment is done in the Philippines. While there is no cause for alarm, it is still crucial that HR practitioners and recruiters understand what's on the horizon for them. Here's what you can expect during the recession:

  • Expect to downsize as companies start to optimize recruitment.

    • Sadly, there is a possibility that the recruitment team will be affected first, as many companies would be implementing temporary freeze hire. The ones staying will be the employees who can add value outside of day-to-day recruiting activities. If your mindset is on how to continue your responsibilities with less, then you're already ahead of the pack.

  • Expect an influx of high volume, low quality candidates.

    • A recession caused by a pandemic has created a unique situation —on one hand, many talents have been retrenched from their jobs and may now be seeking the fastest ways to get employed again. This means more job seekers are applying for positions above or below their skill levels. On the other, management may be feeling pressured to fill in the headcount faster as business needs change. Stay smart and patient as attracting the right kind of talent for your company will take time.

  • Expect that candidates will be zeroing in on job security and safety.

    • During recession caused by a pandemic, uncertainty is at an all-time high. That means that you should expect that job tenure and safety will be at the forefront of most job seekers' minds. Knowing these in advance may help you in negotiating salaries and contracts during the recession.

Tips and Advice for HR practitioners during a recession

While there is no fool-proof plan, there are a few tried and tested lessons from past recessions that may come in handy as we experience one today.  A thorough preparation empowers you to re-calibrate strategies and decisions. Here are a few thought-starters.

  • Be agile—consider all the ways where you can do more with less resources.

    • Think of upskilling or using your existing skillset to improve your employer branding or morale. In recruiting new talent, be open to hiring project-based workers. Especially now that most employment setups are more open to working from home, it's possible to connect with high-quality employees for a shorter-term project. The added flexibility and savings from freelance or project-based employees are indeed a welcome advantage in any company.

  • Refine your talent screening process even more.

    • Optimize your technology and candidate management tools to ensure you’re attracting the right kind of talent thus decreasing processing time. Services like JobStreet’s Talent Search can help you match with high-quality candidates easily. Look at ways where you can combine knowledge and resources with other departments to save on recruitment campaigns.

  • Highlight that you’re the secure choice for an employer.

    • During these uncertain times, job security is a major concern on every candidate’s list. Attracting top candidates in the middle of a pandemic means assuring them that they will not be made redundant even before they end their probation period. To show that you’re the safe bet, frequently remind candidates of your company’s continued growth and what your future career plans are for them.

The main takeaway for you as an HR practitioner

As the saying goes, "It will pass." Good or bad things all come to an end--the most that we can do is prepare for any eventuality. 

To make sure that your company is always one step ahead, it pays to be ready. Gain powerful insights about Filipino employees and learn effective ways on how to attract your next top talent. Explore JobStreet Laws of Attraction here.

This is not the first recession that the Philippines has faced, and it certainly won't be the last. The Filipino spirit will overcome, like always.

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