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How to Hire Proactively in a Reactive Market

If every unemployed person in this country took a job, over 2 million jobs would still go unfilled, according the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We have more than 8.9 million open positions and just 6.5 million unemployed workers. This includes one million women who’ve gone missing from the labor market just since the pandemic.

The current jobs market is unprecedented and it’s causing businesses to be reactive rather than proactive in their hiring practices. Exactly the opposite of what they need to be to compete for top talent.

Blog Image - Proactive Hiring (1)When you recruit proactively, you develop a strategy that anticipates change and helps you prepare for it. A proactive approach ensures you have a steady pipeline of quality candidates. It enables you to fill open positions faster with people who have the right skills for the role. It reduces turnover because both you and the candidate have time to get to know each other and make sure there’s a mutual culture fit. Being proactive saves time and money, reduces stress and burnout, minimizes bad hires, and helps ensure you can compete for the best people in this challenging market.

When you recruit reactively, you have an open position and an urgent need to fill lit. There’s little strategy involved. Hiring managers feel pressured and stressed and often settle for candidates who don’t fit the role or your culture. The costs of bad hires go way beyond loss of time and money. Just one wrong person can lower morale, and with it, productivity throughout a department or organization. Single-handedly, a bad hire can reduce the quality of your product or service as well as your customer relationships.

What Employees Want Today

Individuals are no less challenged than companies in trying to thrive in today’s environment of economic, social, and political uncertainty. Put simply, employees want a great place to work. This means the primary focus for businesses is to stand out for providing an exceptional employee experience (EX) built on respect and trust. It requires that employers throw tradition to the side and continually adapt their culture to the times.

Here are important policies and practices every employer should integrate into their EX to attract and retain today’s employees:

Better pay

Inflation is causing concern and reducing pay satisfaction for workers who don’t believe raises have kept up with it. This is making the amount you pay an increasingly important factor in their employee experience and a major reason people quit if you’re not competitive in compensation. Keep in mind that if employees feel they can’t afford to leave, they may “quiet quit” by putting in only the required amount of work and nothing more. This can be as detrimental as actually quitting to morale, productivity, and customer service.

Work/life balance

One result of the pandemic is that both men and women are rethinking what they value in life and appreciating how important spending time with family and doing the things they love are to them. They want employers to recognize that they have personal as well as work lives and allow for a healthy work/life balance. They are no longer willing to be available 24 hours a day or work to the point of burnout.

Remote and Hybrid Opportunities

Although most employees are back in the office now, research by the WSJ finds that remote and hybrid employees are more satisfied with their workplace location and that the overwhelming majority of workers is satisfied with wherever they are located (office, remote, or hybrid) when they can choose their ideal setting. Great places to work provide flexibility and choice for the ultimate in work/life balance.


The way you treat employees shapes how they feel about being at work. A sense of wellbeing embodies knowing your environment is safe; feeling valued, cared for, and respected; being trusted to make choices and decisions; given the opportunity to develop and grow; and getting recognized for contributions and effort. Many benefits derive from employee wellbeing, including increased engagement, lower burnout, and better retention which all contribute to ROI.

Do More to Win Women Back to Work

Women, and especially women leaders, are leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers. Although they represent nearly half the workforce, in 2023 there is still a significant pay gap between what women and men earn in similar roles (with women earning 82 percent of what men earn according to Pew Research Center). In addition, women typically assume the major share of childcare and household responsibilities. They tend to work more hours and suffer higher burnout levels. A sense of unfairness makes them significantly less satisfied than men with their pay, health benefits, and other aspects of work. Employers need to make a special effort to understand the concerns and needs of women to win them back to the workplace.

Proactive recruiters ensure they provide women with an EX in which they can thrive. They prioritize fair pay, career advancement, flexibility, maternity and other health benefits, and overall wellbeing. Employers that provide mentors get an extra star.

Steps to Hiring Proactively

The key to proactive hiring is to create a strategic recruiting plan before you find you are in a hiring crisis. A plan based on the following steps will enable you to implement the appropriate steps when needed to win the right people as circumstances change:

  • Plan ahead for new roles you’ll need for anticipated growth as well as open positions created through a certain amount of attrition. Build a pipeline of qualified candidates for the roles you need to fill most often.
  • Focus on creating a positive brand that reflects you authentically in the marketplace. Ensure you have a strong online presence that makes you irresistible to potential job seekers. Once you attract them, they’ll watch for future openings. Tell people why you are a great place to work and describe the benefits you offer, especially benefits women are looking for, like childcare, flexibility, and family leave. Ask employees to review you on sites like Glassdoor.
  • Listen to employees continually and act on their feedback and concerns. Many people leave because of a small issue that has escalated; try to nip those in the bud before they cause someone to leave.
  • Invest in your current employees. Help them refine or develop their skills and consider them first for new roles or promotion. Invest in women, especially in developing women leaders.
  • Provide a positive candidate experience from easy online application through the entire hiring process. Communicate with candidates frequently and keep them engaged. Treat them with respect and consideration whether you end up hiring them or not.

To be a company today means navigating constant change. When it comes to your people, simply reacting to current circumstances is not a winning strategy. Hire proactively to avoid panic and ensure that you always have the talented people you need.


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