I didn’t realize it until I read a recent article in the NY Times called Why Should Recession Stop the Recruiters?, corporations have a hiring brand. Not just a product brand and a workplace brand, but a brand in regards to types of workers it hires. For instance, some companies are big on taking in people fresh out of college while others look for experience. Of course it ultimately depends on your compensation strategies, but it is worth noting that most companies are viewed one way or another. With acknowledging that fact, you have to considering how your brand will change if you decide to change your hiring practices, particularly in a down economy. A wrong move can substantially shift the talent pool within the company for many years thereafter, especially if you are the type of company that promotes within (as most corporations would like to believe).
Case in point, suppose you freeze hiring on junior associates. These are the people that learn on the job and do research assignments in support of decisions. Without these people coming in, the group that is currently doing it can’t vacate the role, but at the same time they aren’t learning it anymore. If I’m that person, I better get the raise as if I had ascended up the ladder or I’m looking for a new job. Once the economy does pick back up, the group that hasn’t progressed career wise because of the lack of replacements, begins to jump ship. So now you not only don’t have the junior associates (weren’t hired in the first place) but you don’t have the level above them either (maybe some of the poor performers are still around). The reaction is to hire the junior associates again and promote quickly those that show promise. This will work for a handful of workers but the majority of those promoted won’t be ready and won’t identify issues up the line like they would have with the proper training time. This inability is now persistent within the organization and slowly degrades all performance.