What Your HR Team Can Do During a Hiring Freeze

The rapid spread of COVID-19 and the uncertainty that came along with it caused many businesses to look at their revenue and make the necessary adjustments — and for many, that meant pausing hiring or even laying off current staff members. 

A hiring freeze doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about your hiring process. There are plenty of tasks that need to be addressed while hiring is on hold — including assessing your company’s broader business and recruiting strategy — and your HR managers are the best people to take on the job. Here are some projects and tasks your HR team can tackle to have an immediate impact on your business.

“While we were on a freeze, I saw it as an opportunity to focus on broader Talent Acquisition strategy. I conducted a SWOT analysis to inform improvements I wanted to make.”

Elise Peterson, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Hireology

Make Sure Leadership is Aligned

The most important item on the agenda when a hiring freeze is instated is leadership alignment because staff members will definitely have questions, and without alignment on top, panic could ensue. 

Your HR lead should be in meetings where hiring decisions are being made, and that includes meetings around the overall business strategy. Everyone in leadership should be on the same page as far as what and how will be communicated to internal and external stakeholders, as well as how you’ll move forward with hiring and what takes precedence during this time. 

Keep in Touch With Promising Candidates

When Hireology went through a hiring freeze in April, Elise Peterson, our Talent Acquisition Specialist, created “future” job postings that applicants could apply to, knowing that the role wasn’t immediately available. This helped Elise build the talent pipeline so that when hiring resumed, she had plenty of quality candidates to move into the interview process. 

Be proactive about reaching out to those that are already in your talent pipeline. Communicate that your company has put a pause on hiring, and if they are interested in keeping in touch, let them know that you’re available to chat in the future. Being upfront with candidates is not only good for you in the long run, it’s a matter of respect and shows that your company cares about them. And when hiring does resume, you can reach out to them and let them know you’d love to pick up the interview process again. 

Top talent from every industry now find themselves searching for a new role, so even if your company isn’t actively recruiting at the moment, there are plenty of reasons to keep your eyes and ears close to the ground and passively interact with candidates. 

Utilize Current Talent

Your current employees are incredibly valuable, and encouraging them to be versatile during times of uncertainty will help you and your team thrive. Find opportunities to utilize your current staff cross-functionally, and reward them for being adaptable. Let them know that their hard work and flexibility don’t go unnoticed. Praise your employees for their hard work and create opportunities for engagement throughout the workday.

If you can incorporate some ways to blow off steam, like brief team meetings once a week with an activity, or give additional time off for employees that are feeling burned out or just need a mental health day, you’ll be much more likely to see positive results. 

Additionally, always keep your door open. Let your team know that they have your full support, and make sure they feel comfortable talking to you about any issues they’re having with adjustments or otherwise. This will go a long way with retention, especially when times are tough.

Create a Backfill Plan

Turnover happens, and in some cases, a hiring freeze can actually increase turnover. Hiring freezes often result in employees having to extend past their typical work expectations to make up for lower headcount without additional compensation, and for this reason, you may see some valuable team members leave their roles. 

Get ahead of this by creating a backfill plan. Consult with leadership to ensure that you’ll be able to fill positions that become open during a freeze period, and ensure that you’re keeping in contact with those in your talent pipeline. And if you don’t currently have an employee referral program, work on implementing one.
Referrals generate the best return on investment, reduce cost per hire, and are 3-4 times more likely to be hired than non-referral candidates. Employee referrals are the best way to hire with limited resources. 

Perform a SWOT Analysis

“While we were on a freeze, I saw it as an opportunity to focus on broader Talent Acquisition strategy,” said Elise. “I conducted a SWOT analysis to inform improvements I wanted to make.” A SWOT analysis is a planning technique that identifies your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Elise was able to move forward with a strategic hiring plan and a greater understanding of the opportunities and obstacles Hireology might face in the future.

Performing a SWOT analysis is helpful to do during normal business operations, but paramount during uncertainty. No matter the size of your company, you can conduct a SWOT analysis by answering the following questions:


  • What does your business do well?
  • What assets do you have (i.e. team, skills, reputation)? 
  • What physical assets do you have (i.e. customers, equipment, technology)?
  • What separates you from your competitors?


  • How could your company improve?
  • What resources does your company lack? 
  • What do your competitors do better? 
  • Are there gaps on your team?


  • What opportunities are available to your company? 
  • How can your company continue to thrive?
  • How can your company advance the mission of the organization? 
  • How can you turn your weaknesses into opportunities?
  • Do customers think highly of your company?


  • Who are your emerging competitors?
  • What are the financial risks your company is facing?
  • What else could jeopardize your company?
  • Are there market trends that could affect your company?

Completing a SWOT analysis will help you align your company with steps to move forward with foresight.

Refresh Recruitment Tech

When hiring does resume, you’re likely to see an influx in applicants from yours and other industries. Make sure you’re prepared by evaluating your current recruitment tech and making investment decisions when possible.

Hireology offers you an all-in-one hiring platform that integrates with your other people operations software to ensure that your hiring process is as quick and painless as possible. You can attract top applicants, move them through the hiring process, communicate with applicants, and onboard your new hires, all from one platform. We also just launched our new mobile app so you can manage your hiring process on the go.

Your HR team can have a real and immediate impact on your company, regardless of the hiring climate. By focusing on the bigger picture, planning for the future, and staying organized, your team can be prepared for what’s to come.



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