Top 3 Tips For Hiring in a Soft Economy

Tom Tassinari
April 1, 2009 — 2,633 views  
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Everyone knows we are in the midst of a pretty soft economy. It is not yet clear here in March of 2009 how long it will last. Most bets are it will be a long time. This means a lot of things to business people but it particularly impacts hiring...if you are lucky enough to do any hiring. Pure and simple, a bad hire can put you out of business. Here are 3 tips that help you hire right in a bad economy.

Tip 1 - Define Success in Increments
This means you need to define what success means in a position. That definition needs to have 1 month, 3 month 6 month and 12 month goals. The person you hire has to meet these goals or they are gone. You can not afford to let that person grow into the position. This means you need to learn how to set up these criteria and measure results.

Tip 2 - Retain or Retrain
Do whatever you can to keep your people in house. This means hiring from within or retraining people to handle the position you need to fill. This serves two purposes, it allows people in your business to take on new and higher challenges. It keeps your current employee focused on your business and challenges them during this tough time.

Often during lean times, the job gets tough. While most people appreciate that they have a job, they resent having to do a lot of extra work. This can leave a bad taste in someone's mouth and they could be vulnerable to a new opportunity outside of your organization. Hire from within solves both of these problems and keeps your corporate knowledge in house.

Tip 3 - Create Flexibility
During lean times, it is imperative to remain flexible. This means a couple of things, cross training and using outsourced hiring. Why? During lean times there are still opportunities. When that order comes in the worst thing that can happen is you can not fill that order because you are stretched too thin. This means some people will have to cross train to share the load.

If there is still too much work to do, you need to be prepared to bring in extra talent. The best way to do this is on a temporary basis. Hire temps to do specific jobs. You can not afford the commitment of hiring someone long term. In a lean economy, you can't know how long it will impact your business.

This has to be balanced against being able to complete jobs on time. When opportunity knocks you need to be able to answer. The solution is contingent workforce or temps. Find a good temp service and use them. The good news in a soft economy, there are more people available with better skills who would love to work on a 2 month assignment.

Final Thoughts
Sometimes a lean economy is the best time to be in business. There will be a number of businesses that will be going out of business. You can take these accounts and win new business. When things get better you will have more business grow faster. Don't make the mistake of a bad hire and becoming one of the ones who goes out of business.

For more information about hiring and outsourcing, visit

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Tom Tassinari