Why a Hiring Lull Is the Best Time to Build Your Employer Brand


No company is immune to a bit of uncertainty. Whether it be an unforeseen event that disrupts business operations worldwide, stock market volatility or simply lower-than-expected revenue for a few quarters; every company is susceptible to temporary periods of turbulence. 


Right now, the market is going through a slight adjustment period with many startups announcing hiring freezes or layoffs. Many companies react to this by pausing their recruitment efforts, including their employer branding. However, this is a mistake that can have far-reaching implications. Instead, a hiring freeze is a perfect time to implement projects to support your recruiting strategy and focus on building your employer brand.

Why Employer Branding Needs to Be Continual


Turning off your employer branding efforts at any time has critical consequences. Employer branding is not like traditional recruitment tactics, such as a job board, where you can start and stop as candidates are needed. If you want employer branding to consistently bring in candidates for you over time, you must always have it turned on. Otherwise, you will lose the years of work you’ve put in to nurture your employer brand, and you’ll essentially be starting from scratch when it’s time to hire again.

It Takes Years to Build a Successful Brand


Branding is a long-term game. On average, it can take a company between two and five years to successfully build a brand, and employer branding is no exception. It’s not something that can be turned on or off at any given time — it must be consistently nurtured to be successful.


Without constant nurturing, brand awareness can quickly diminish. One bad negative review can have a significant impact when you consider that 86 percent of employees and job seekers assess company ratings and reviews to determine where they want to apply for a job. This is just one example of the battle you’d be up against.


Resources Will Go to Waste


According to a Harris Survey, the average cost of employment branding is $129,000. You’ve likely made costly investments like advertising, using an employer branding agency, internal design, headcount and more. If you turn it off, all that money and time to build your brand is lost to at least some degree, and you’ll be investing the resources over again to rebuild your brand. You won’t be starting where you left off, you’ll be working to regain ground you’ve already accomplished in the past. You’ve put in the hard work to get your brand awareness to where it is today, and you don’t want to let it go to waste by losing momentum.

Hiring Freezes Are Temporary, Backfills Are Necessary


Hiring freezes typically last between three to six months. Candidates will be needed again and more quickly than you think. Therefore, you must be ready with a pipeline of candidates to fill open jobs. If you’re not, you’ll be hurting when the hiring freeze ends. Your employer brand can supply a steady stream of talent ready to work for you.


Also, hiring freezes can scare away talent, meaning more employees may voluntarily leave your organization. To maintain your business, even during a hiring freeze, you’ll need to backfill these roles with great talent. A strong employer brand can help you build a pipeline of candidates necessary for those backfills while promoting a sense of stability within the company’s future to convince them to join. Research shows that:

Retention Is Key, Especially During Hiring Lulls


During a layoff or hiring freeze, companies often see more employees leave more than usual due to concerns of security and job loss. Your employer brand can help boost morale internally and give employees a sense of belonging and comfort, which, in turn, will hopefully help them remain with your company. Research suggests that:

Employer branding also allows your employees to boost their personal brand by participating in your content. Your messaging during this time can also help remind them of your values, mission, and all of the things that attracted them to join your company in the first place.


Now’s the Time to Elevate Your Employer Brand


It’s not always easy to find time to nurture and elevate your employer brand; a lot of organizations don’t have someone dedicated to it full-time. Now that most of your recruitment tactics are turned off due to a hiring freeze, use this time to focus on elevating your employer branding efforts and strategy. It can be your sole focus, allowing you to concentrate on employer branding without having to meet steep hiring goals simultaneously. And, it will set you up to meet those hiring goals when they are turned back on.


As already mentioned, hiring is one to two times faster when a company has a solid employer brand. By not turning off your branding efforts and instead nurturing them, you’ll be ready with a pipeline of passive candidates that you can immediately turn active by promoting your hiring messaging when ready to do so. In other words, there’s no ramp-up period needed — you can quickly get back on track.

Improve Employer Branding Performance

Now’s the time to dig into your employer branding successes and pitfalls. This will help you determine where you should invest more money and time, and where you should pull back. You can begin testing what’s working and what’s not working to get things right for when you have a budget again. It takes time to get it right, and you now have some time to do so.

Develop More Personalized Messaging


Now that you have the time, you can put in the effort to create specific and personalized messaging that aligns with the roles you’ll have open in the future. To do so:

Build A Backlog of Content


It’s no secret that it can take time to build employer branding content. Between building the right message, interviewing internal employees, writing the piece, designing it, figuring out what channels to promote it on and more, it’s a lot of effort to do it well.


The good news is, now that other recruitment tactics are turned off, your team has more time to build a backlog of content to use both now and in the future when hiring is back on. Some considerations:


But Won’t Telling Our Story Promote the Wrong Message?


Companies are often worried about promoting their employer brand during times of uncertainty, especially after a layoff. However, employer branding messages don’t always have to be hiring-forward. Shifting what you’re talking about is a simple way to overcome this challenge and concern.


Sharing your employer brand is simply meant to give outsiders an inside look at who your company is and what it stands for. You can share your mission, values, vision and insights into the departments and communities within your organization. Being sensitive to the current times, you can thoughtfully select stories that still give a sense of who you and your employees are as a company.


Continuing your branding efforts is vital to the continued success of your organization. Your brand supports employee retention and hiring efforts. Once a hiring lull is paused, you’ll be ready to take off and recruit the best talent possible because you’ve wisely used the hiring freeze to review, revamp and continue your employee branding efforts.