Recruitment Challenges in a Downturn Job Market


In times of pandemics or full-time recession, when the job market reduces under the strain of retrenchments, recruiters have to overcome new challenges in hiring suitable candidates for available job openings. Here are a few scenarios to consider as a recruiter.

Change in recruiter/candidate dynamic

The pandemic has changed how recruiters work and engage with job candidates. Besides the transition to working from home, employees seeking new roles got used to more digital applications, phone calls, messaging and video interviews.

Truthfully, few candidates now reach the in-person interview stage with the recruiter, increasing the feeling of disconnection within the hiring process. Given the challenging market circumstances, it’s no wonder job applicants are fearful and unsure of their future career prospects.

For this reason, recruiters need to empathise with the candidate’s struggle and anxiety during the hiring and interviewing process. Steps to be taken include being responsive to the applicants, providing assurance and updates to desperate follow-ups, and being genuinely understanding with anxious job seekers.

More applicants per job

In the past year, recruiters dealt with a larger pool of applicants than usual per job, resulting in a more complex candidate selection process. That’s because stressful times and unexpected retrenchments force applicants who have lost or are due to lose their jobs to apply indiscriminately to vacant positions, whether they qualify or not.

Usually, recruiters rely on specific selection criteria to identify the best pool of candidates for a job. However, recruiters may need to be more open-minded to identify suitable talent and look beyond the candidate’s qualification and expertise to a diversity of background, gender, work experience and resources as contributions.

Under/Overqualified job seekers

In a scarce job market, most applicants can be either underqualified or overqualified for their chosen career. Some do not meet the minimum qualification for the job they are applying to, while others are overqualified based on their previous career experience.

In the above scenarios, the recruiter’s role is to assess whether exceptions can be made and should. For example, recruiters could steer under-qualified applicants towards training and upskilling opportunities and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Often in recruitment, suitable candidates are dismissed based on over-qualification. This situation may change during the current pandemic circumstances when job scarcity abounds. For example, a candidate previously employed in a managerial position may apply for a lesser administrative role.

Some applicants willingly choose to adopt a more flexible role, stepping back in their career and taking a lower-paid position for many reasons: work-life balance, family needs, healthcare, homeschooling. Recruiters should acknowledge all these valid scenarios and respond with caution and equal consideration.

Professional Sourcing can assist with the recruitment process during and after the pandemic. Visit for more info.

Professional Sourcing can assist with the recruitment process during and after the pandemic. Our team has a strong reputation for recruitment expertise within our specialisation areas. Visit for more info.

Professional Sourcing has a strong reputation for highly developed recruitment expertise within our specialisation areas. We develop strong long-term relationships with our loyal clients. Allow us to help you deal with your frustrations of a lengthy hiring process.

Professional Sourcing is a top-tier South African-based recruitment agency operating internationally, IPM accredited, LEVEL 2 BEE RATED and 51% Black Owned.

Leave us a comment