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In 2023, numerous companies across diverse sectors have resorted to laying off employees due to the economic repercussions of the pandemic and the looming specter of a widely discussed recession.

The quest for talent has taken on a new urgency. In this era where companies face the dual challenge of navigating economic downturns and seeking to bolster their teams, the process of talent acquisition has evolved into a strategic imperative.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the strategies essential for effectively hunting for talent amidst the layoffs era.

What Is Happening at the Labor Market Now?

In 2023, there were approximately 605,000 announced layoffs, marking a staggering 198% increase from the previous year, making it the most severe job-trimming period in the first three quarters since 2020 and the second-worst since the Great Recession of 2009.

Technology sector:

  • Around 152,000 layoffs were announced in 2023.
  • Represents a 716% increase from 2022.
  • Demonstrates the highest industry layoffs since 2001.

Retail sector:

  • Approximately 71,000 job losses in 2023.

Healthcare sector:

  • About 53,000 job losses in 2023.
  • Surpasses figures from 2022.

Media sector:

  • Experienced a 550% year-over-year increase in layoffs.
  • Second-most affected group after the tech sector by percentage.
  • Total cut of over 19,000 jobs.

At the same time, in 2024, there are companies actively seeking to bolster their workforce, keen on filling vacant positions with suitable candidates. According to research conducted by Jobvite, 86% of talent practitioners, including HR decision-makers and recruiters, hold an optimistic outlook regarding the future of recruiting and talent acquisition.

For example, the United States produced an unexpectedly sizable batch of jobs in the first quarter of 2024, a boon for American workers and a sign that the labor market retains remarkable strength after three years of expansion.

So, currently, when there are many talented candidates on the job market, companies might be tempted to hastily onboard any available candidates who meet the basic job criteria. However, this approach may not always yield optimal results. Instead, considering the peculiar dynamics of the current hiring landscape—where there is a demand for talent amidst widespread layoffs—companies would be wise to conduct thorough evaluations and judiciously select candidates, even in the presence of surplus resources. How to do this correctly? We’ve prepared a list of effective strategies.


Strategies for Effectively Hunting for Talent in the Layoffs Era

Utilize talent pipelines and reconnect with former candidates

You can initiate your talent search by revisiting their talent pipelines within the ATS. These pipelines contain valuable information about past candidates who have previously expressed interest in the organization or have been deemed qualified for specific roles. By revisiting these pipelines, you can identify potential candidates who may have been impacted by recent layoffs and are now actively seeking employment.

Once potential candidates have been identified from the talent pipeline, reach out to former candidates to gauge their current employment status and interest in new opportunities. This proactive approach not only accelerates the recruitment process but also strengthens relationships with candidates who have already demonstrated their potential fit for the organization.

Understand the needs and expectations of the future workforce

This step is crucial for successful talent acquisition. One significant shift lies in the increasing demand for work-life balance, especially among Millennials and Gen Z employees. Flexibility and personal fulfillment are prioritized alongside career advancement. Employers who adapt by offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote options or flexible hours, stand a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent.

Additionally, the emphasis on company culture and values is growing. Prospective employees seek organizations that resonate with their beliefs and principles. Employers committed to fostering positive and inclusive work environments are more likely to secure and retain top talent.

Focus on new job roles and titles

The rapid evolution of the job market introduces new job titles and skill demands that employers must navigate to remain competitive. Roles such as data scientist, UX designer, and social media manager have gained prominence in recent years, reflecting the demand for specialized expertise in fields like data analytics, user experience design, and digital marketing. To attract candidates with these sought-after skills, employers must accurately define role expectations and showcase growth prospects within the company.

When searching for skilled candidates, for example, through LinkedIn, don’t limit yourself to the exact names of job titles.

  • Skill-based search:

Rather than narrowing your search based on specific job titles, utilize skill-based search criteria to identify candidates who possess the desired competencies. For example, if you're seeking a candidate with expertise in data analysis, search for relevant keywords such as "data analytics," "data visualization," or "statistical modeling."

  • Keyword optimization:

Optimize your job postings and search queries with relevant keywords to attract candidates with the right skill sets. Incorporate industry-specific terms, technical proficiencies, and soft skills that align with the role's requirements. This increases the visibility of your job postings and ensures they resonate with qualified candidates.

  • Flexibility in job descriptions:

Maintain flexibility in your job descriptions to accommodate candidates with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Instead of rigidly adhering to predetermined job titles, focus on outlining the key responsibilities, qualifications, and desired outcomes of the role. This encourages a broader range of qualified candidates to apply and increases the likelihood of finding the perfect fit for your organization.

Restructure the application process

When faced with a surplus of candidates applying for a vacancy, restructuring the job pipeline to incorporate additional screening measures can help filter out unqualified or disinterested applicants. One effective strategy is to include a short test task as part of the initial application process.

Candidates who are willing to invest time and effort into completing the task demonstrate a higher level of motivation and commitment than those who simply mass-apply to multiple vacancies without much consideration.

The test task can be tailored to the specific requirements of the role, providing candidates with a practical opportunity to showcase their relevant skills and capabilities. For technical positions, this could involve solving a problem or completing a coding challenge, while for creative roles, it could be a portfolio review or a design task. Alternatively, a language test can be administered for positions that require strong communication skills.

Enhance transparency in salary ranges

In addition to broadening your search beyond specific job titles, promoting transparency regarding salary ranges can significantly streamline the candidate pool and attract candidates who align with your organization's compensation expectations.

Provide clear and detailed information about salary ranges in job postings, recruitment materials, and during initial discussions with candidates. Instead of providing a single fixed salary figure, offer a salary range that reflects the potential compensation based on factors such as experience, qualifications, and performance. This provides flexibility while still offering transparency. Also, avoid delaying salary discussions until later stages, as this can lead to misunderstandings and wasted time.


Thus, the layoff era presents unique challenges and opportunities for talent acquisition. To thrive in this environment, companies must adapt their strategies to attract and retain top talent effectively. You should take proactive and strategic recruitment approaches to emerge stronger and more competitive in the long term.

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