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During these uncertain times many businesses are pressing pause on recruitment. In our latest Q&A ,our HR expert, Georgina Pacor, examines this topic and provides some essential tips on how to make the most of a recruitment freeze. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has put normal business functions under the spotlight with both small and large organisations choosing to take a breath before signing off on new employees. Strategic plans may have called for an expansion in the sales team in some industries, but with the current economic state and uncertain future it appears many employers are choosing to bunker down and wait for ‘normality’ to return. 

So, what does a recruitment freeze actually mean?

A recruitment freeze is pausing all of the normal recruitment based activities and not providing approvals for new hires. In most cases, employers stop their typical recruitment activities including sourcing, screening, interviewing and appointing. 

See our Sample Recruitment Freeze - Email for a handy template that can be used to contact applicants that are currently within a recruitment process.

How your business can make the most of a recruitment freeze

Freezing recruitment means putting the ‘normal’ recruitment activities on hold, but it does provide an opportunity for employers to redirect their energies during this time to ensure that they remain relevant and become top of mind to quality candidates when the freeze is over.

In some ways, a freeze is a positive for an organisation as it allows them to step away from the day-to-day time consuming recruitment activities and prepare to emerge the other side with a stronger employer brand, more efficient hiring process and a positive candidate experience.

1. Reflect on your recruitment ‘pain points’

Most employers are able to quickly identify the parts of their recruitment process that cause them the most ‘pain’. This may be receiving hundreds of applicants that need to be manually reviewed, having a process that fails to effectively assess a candidate’s ‘fit’ to the organisation or even needing to wait weeks at the end of the process for police checks to be returned. The freeze is a key opportunity for each part of the recruitment process to be dissected, evaluated and put back together in a more efficient, successful and goal orientated manner.

2. Improve the hiring process

Reviewing the complete hiring process from the beginning to the end to identify the pain points is a luxury that most businesses do not have time to do, however using the recruitment freeze time to do so allows plans to improve the process to be put into place. Understanding aspects such as the following will assist the business to construct a more efficient and effective process:

  • Cost per hire
  • Source of hire
  • Time to hire
  • Job acceptance rates
  • Retention of candidates over time
  • Candidate experience data

3. Invest in the candidate experience 

Candidates are and should be the centre of the goals of the recruitment process. Many organisations construct a recruitment process that fits the strategic goals of the business but overlooks the candidate experience.  Start by investigating some key candidate metrics such as careers page conversion, time to hire, application bounce rates and interview success.  

These aspects are examples of what will provide core insights into the candidate experience. Most employers underestimate the importance of creating and maintaining a good first impression and instead focus on ‘holding the power’ over the candidate. It is recommended that candidates are considered the same as top customers and that employers look at every touch point in the candidate experience chain for ways to improve them.

4. Is it time to automate?

Technology has enhanced many core business operations and recruitment is no different.  In a traditional process that has long been time consuming and labour intensive, it makes sense to start planning for a digital transformation strategy. Now is the time to do your due diligence on the recruitment technology that is currently enhancing your competitor’s process. Automation can take the hard work away from screening endless applications and help you to keep track of each recruitment activity. Ultimately, this will reduce your time to hire, improve the candidate experience and get the right person in your organisation faster to begin adding value.

5. Understand and improve your employer brand

Some employers believe that they are known to have ‘a family culture’ but external candidates are not aware of this. Every employer has a brand whether they like it or not and a candidate’s perception is their reality.  A company brand should not just be left unattended as it is critical to attracting and retaining quality candidates.  

The leaders of the business may know what they want the brand to be, but they are not the best ones to understand what is actually is. It is recommended that employers survey their employees, customers and stakeholders to best understand their perception of the company brand.  This becomes the starting point where the leaders can then devise a strategic plan to work towards the ultimate employer brand.   This will benefit the attraction of quality candidates, but importantly it will also become a key retention strategy.

6. Change up the way you engage with potential candidates

Many employers are challenged by the ever changing platform to effectively engage with quality candidates. Whilst more traditional methods may have worked in the past, to truly optimise the opportunity to attract the highest talent to your business, it is important to reflect on how, when and where you interact with current and potential candidates.

Utilising social media platforms, creating an interactive careers page and using video content and tweets are a few ways to engage differently.  Some employers will use existing employees to promote the organisation as a great place to work and others will focus on sharing the successes of the business to build the brand.   

7. Think about the people plan when the freeze is lifted

Once the recruitment process has been reviewed and improved, it is time to prepare for when the recruitment wheel starts moving again.  It may happen slowly, but it also may happen very quickly. Workforce planning is critical at this time and it is recommended that HR practitioners keep open and regular communication with hiring managers about what their needs are going to look like after the freeze has lifted.  For some this will be hard to predict, but for others the plan will be very clear.

It is vital that HR spend this time to grow the existing candidate talent pool and build the networks, relationships and strategies now to ensure that they can tap into quality candidates when recruitment recommences. 

8. A recruitment freeze is the perfect time to upskill

There may be no jobs to fill today, but is this an opportunity to make use of the many resources available to improve the recruitment skills of hiring managers and HR team members?  In this digital age, there are countless podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos, TED talks and free workshops.  

Many people tasked with the role of recruiting are either self-taught or they have been using the same approach for many years.  Taking the time to invest in training, mentoring and soft skills is an investment that will no doubt pay dividends when employers are ready to get back in the game.


Recruitment is not something that most organisations love to do, mainly because it is time consuming and costly – with no guarantee of finding the perfect candidate.  There is no doubt that the art of recruiting is challenging and at times frustrating, but it is a fundamental skill and requirement for businesses to enable them to reach and exceed their goals.

A recruitment freeze may press ‘pause’ on the normal hiring activities, but there is no reason that employers should miss this unique window of time to reflect, prepare and re-emerge with a more efficient, successful and cost-effective approach. 

Further information

Members can contact us or call the Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for assistance with their workplace matters. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and resources

Ai Group is continually publishing new COVID-19 advice and resources for employers:

  • Specific HR Resource Centre and Health & Safety Resource Centre content to assist members during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.
  • Dedicated COVID-19 member advice, industry news, resources and latest information can be found here.

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