Just-in-Case Recruiting: How to Build More Resilient Talent Pipelines for the Post-Pandemic Era

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As the holiday season kicks into high gear, many are fretting over the supply chain’s ongoing woes, and understandably so. The logistics sector was among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Because of its fundamental role in the global economy, the supply chain’s challenges are causing headaches for companies and consumers alike.

But product shortages and shipping delays aren’t the only things throwing a wrench in the post-pandemic recovery. An equally integral component of the economy is also in short supply: talent.

When you think about it, recruiting and logistics have a lot in common. What is a talent pipeline, if not a kind of supply chain that deliveries employees instead of commodities? And disruptions to either sector can reverberate throughout the entire business landscape, as we’re currently seeing.

Because of how similar recruiting and the supply chain are, talent acquisition pros and hiring managers can take some cues from their counterparts in logistics to build back up. As it turns out, supply chain leaders have some excellent ideas that can help companies replenish their talent pipelines today and stay resilient in the face of whatever talent challenges come next.

What Talent Leaders Can Learn From the Supply Chain

If you thumb through supply-chain industry publications today, you’re likely to come across one word over and over again: resilience. After being subject to unprecedented disruption throughout the pandemic, logistics experts want to ensure the next major shake-up won’t leave them reeling.

In the broadest sense of the word, resilience means being able to withstand challenges. It means getting back up when your company is knocked down and moving forward despite obstacles.

For supply chain leaders, “resilience” equals “having options.” The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in just-in-case logistics models. When the partners they relied on for raw materials or shipping services had to shut down, lay off staff, or raise prices, organizations found they had to grin and bear it. Their hyper-lean operations left them with no readily available alternatives. 

Today, many logistics leaders are trading these just-in-time supply chains for just-in-case supply chains, which offer more buffer. In practice, that means moving away from single-sourcing and cultivating multiple partners who offer overlapping goods and services.

It may not be as efficient, but the built-in redundancy gives an organization breathing room if one of its partners has trouble fulfilling its role as expected.

What exactly does all of this have to do with recruiting?

Talent acquisition pros have also learned the value of options during the pandemic. For years, it was an employer’s market in which potential job candidates battled it out to attract the attention of top employers. But the pandemic turned that upside down, putting power into the hands of the qualified candidates.

Now, recruiters aren’t calling the shots. Instead, they’re reacting to the evolving priorities of passive candidates. 

Amid the Great Resignation, talent teams spend much of their time putting out fires rather than planning for the future. In fact, in the latest Recruiter Index® , recruiters reported that most of their open roles were backfill (53 percent) rather than brand-new positions (47 percent). How can the best talent acquisition teams help their companies and clients take full advantage of the economic recovery when mass turnover keeps them from even thinking about proactively creating a talent pipeline?

Today, recruiters are stuck in a just-in-time hiring process loop. But what if they adopted a just-in-case approach that granted more resilience in the face of the talent market’s vicissitudes? What might that look like?

What Is Just-in-Case Recruiting?

The difference between just-in-time supply chains and just-in-case supply chains is one of choice. Just-in-case recruiting is similar: It gives talent acquisition leaders  more recruiting options so they can adapt to changes in the talent market with relative ease. 

The best way to understand what just-in-case recruiting looks like in practice is to take a closer look at its two fundamental principles: diversifying your recruiters and diversifying your talent pipeline.

1. Diversify Your Recruiters

When it comes to bringing more options into your hiring strategy, the best place to start is with the people executing it: your recruiters.

A talent acquisition team can take many forms. Some organizations handle hiring internally, while others outsource all of it. How a given organization approaches proactive recruiting will, of course, depend on a variety of factors.

But no matter the basic structure of your company’s talent function, you want to build options into it. How can you do that? 

Let’s look at the supply chain example again. There, we see companies moving away from single-sourcing materials and services in favor of cultivating relationships with groups of suppliers.

The most direct analog in a talent acquisition strategy might be contracting with multiple recruitment agencies. That’s certainly one way to do it, but it’s also expensive and cumbersome. 

Adopting on-demand recruiting  might be a better tactic. On-demand recruiting is a lot like agency recruiting, except more agile. Instead of partnering with a static set of recruiters, you build a dynamic team of as many recruiters as you need when you need them.

You can scale up or down as hiring necessitates, and you can tap recruiters of multiple specialties depending on the roles you need to fill. 

On-demand recruiting is a perfect just-in-case recruiting model, as resilience is built right in. It’s there when you need it, and you can alter the size and scope of your engagement in response to changing talent market conditions.

2. Diversify Your Talent Sources

This isn’t exactly groundbreaking advice. Recruiting and talent acquisition experts, including this very publication , have long advocated for building talent pipelines that are more robust by diversifying your candidate pools. The current state of the talent market has made this even more imperative. 

Tapping a wide array of talent sources is vital to just-in-case recruiting. When you cultivate multiple networks — whether that means professional communities, websites, locations, schools, etc. — you’re never at the mercy of a single source. You can always look elsewhere if the usual haunts are coming up dry. 

In addition to diversifying your talent team, on-demand recruitment can also help you diversify your talent sources. A team of on-demand recruiters  comprises multiple independent recruiters, each bringing their own professional network to your roles. This contrasts with a typical recruiting agency, where the entire team usually shares a single talent pipeline.  

The shift to remote work has also made it easier than ever to diversify your talent sources — although it should be noted that many organizations are now moving back to the office. Before you call everyone back to HQ, consider whether it’s worth giving up the ability to recruit external candidates  from anywhere around the world.

For some companies, the answer will be yes. Just make sure it’s a yes for your organization, too.

Let’s Get Proactive

We’ve all heard the pithy mottos before: “Recruiting is just another form of sales.” “Recruiting is a subset of marketing.”

But in a talent market like no other, the adages may be a little outdated. Perhaps today’s talent acquisition pros should think differently: “Recruiting is just another kind of supply chain.”

By adopting just-in-case recruiting, grounded in on-demand recruiting and a diverse and successful talent pipeline, organizations can climb out of the Great Resignation and get back to building proactive talent pipelines. They’ll find the resilience they need to handle whatever happens next.

Contact us at Recruiter.com  if you’re interested in using on-demand recruiting to build your talent pipeline. 


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By Matthew Kosinski