The early 2023 job market is a story of mixed signals. Scrolling their LinkedIn newsfeed, students are seeing a sea of layoffs. Yet at the same time the unemployment rate has hit a 53-year low. Some companies are proactively seeking more candidates to help build their growing businesses. Others are scaling back or pausing hiring for an indefinite amount of time.

In this time of uncertainty, what can recruiting partners do to effectively attract and hire talent while also building a strong and lasting brand on campus? Our team in Career & Professional Development offers these recommendations.

Be transparent about your hiring process

One of the biggest stressors for students in a job search is managing the gray area. Are companies on my target list still hiring? I see a job posting online, but is the role really open? I applied to a role weeks ago and had an initial interview, when will I hear back?

The key to managing this uncertainty is transparency. Including hiring timelines within job postings, sharing information about the number of open positions with Career & Professional Development, and keeping open lines of communication with applicants are great places to start. While there may be changes along the way, the more information students have about the process the more confident they will feel about engaging with your company.

Create space for students to share their career goals honestly

Transparency from candidates is also beneficial in the hiring process. When companies encourage students to openly share about their career goals, important connections can be made between the company’s needs and the student’s ability to add value in various roles or functions. This can then lead to better hiring decisions and future retention of top talent.

Asking students about their goals and being open to discussing those goals also changes the dynamics of the hiring process. During times of economic uncertainty, student stress around the job search understandably increases. Turning an interview into a conversation that allows both parties – the candidate and the hiring manager – to ensure there is a good fit can decrease stress levels by allowing students to show up as their best and most authentic selves.

Prioritize highlighting company values and culture

While students understand that companies need to make business decisions regarding the size and the structure of their teams, they also want to know how companies are approaching those decisions and considering their people. They will be actively looking to connect with companies who consistently express their values and maintain their culture during periods of uncertainty.

In your conversations with students, within your job postings, and at events, share specific examples of how values are implemented throughout the business. For example, if honesty around performance is a core value of the company, explain how feedback is provided to team members and what information is shared with employees about how big decisions are made.

To provide students with further insight into your company culture, connect them with recent hires so they can ask direct questions about employees’ experiences. You can also share more details about your company benefits, flexible work options, and compensation to allow students to really get to know what being an employee at your company looks like.

Streamline communications and events

To manage the uncertainty of the job market, students may be broadening their target list of companies or industries. For companies who are actively hiring, this is a great opportunity to attract more new candidates to your roles. For students, this is an exciting time of exploring new possibilities, but it can also be overwhelming to manage multiple moving parts of their job search and/or an unexpected pivot.

To help you conduct a successful candidate search, focus on transparency as highlighted above, and streamlining your communication and events. Choose one or two recruiting events to hold and consider the best source of communications (i.e. individual emails or multiple large group messages) to help students navigate multiple hiring processes without the overwhelm . Finally, if your hiring outlook is a moving target, let candidates know. As much as you can, keep the lines of communication open as often and with as much specificity as you can .

For more support in managing your hiring process at HBS, connect with your industry Sector Lead and Recruiting Manager.