Navigating a hiring freeze at your company as a hiring manager (or even a hiring slowdown, when you were planning on rapidly expanding your team) can be difficult. You may find yourself at the center of questions from your team, or struggling to complete projects that you urgently needed help for.

However, there are several things you can do to help your team navigate a hiring freeze and stay focused on their goals, as well as set yourself up for success once the hiring freeze is lifted. Some of our tips include: 

Communicate with your team as much as possible: Be transparent with your direct reports about the hiring freeze and the reasons behind it. Let them know what you do and do not have control over, and encourage them to share their concerns and ideas.

You may not know all the answers to their questions, like when the hiring freeze will be lifted, if it applies to every department, or if there are larger changes coming (like layoffs), but be as honest as possible. Your team will appreciate it, and will feel more invested in their day-to-day work if they know their manager is still trying to support and communicate with them as much as they can.

Look for creative solutions to work on immediate needs: Consider alternative approaches to hiring full-time staff, such as hiring contractors or freelancers. These solutions can help you address urgent projects while maintaining flexibility when the hiring freeze is lifted.

Or, ask other departments if you can share resources - like hiring a freelancer or an administrator who can manage tasks for both your teams. If you feel that hiring someone additional is a must, there may be a variety of ways you can partner with others in your company who are in a similar position to accomplish your goals.

Develop your team's skills: During a hiring freeze, focus on developing your team's skills and providing opportunities for growth and development. Are there certain leadership courses your reports have wanted to take, skills or programs they’d like to learn, or new, more “stretch” projects you can place them on? This can be difficult to balance, especially if you need everyone on your team to put more hours into tasks that a new hire would have taken on, but perhaps you can work with them on helping them set aside a few hours a week to work on their professional goals.

Showing your team you still care about their professional development can help you retain top talent. According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if they felt the company was investing in their learning and skills.

Additionally, working with your team on their professional goals can help them move into more senior roles - so when a hiring freeze is lifted, they have a greater chance of being prepared for that next promotion or level. If you were hiring for a senior role before the freeze - maybe they can be the person to take that new role! 

Leverage technology: Consider using technology to automate certain processes or streamline workflows. Do you still have budget to invest in a new tool that will help you with some of your software QA testing, or improve efficiencies when reviewing code? Even if you no longer have the budget for a full-time hire - you may be able to invest in new tools that cost a lot less.

Improving or adding to your tech stack can help you save time and resources, and improve the output of your team. Not to mention making use of technology can also alleviate some of your team’s stress if they are feel over-worked without additional hires. Now, your team may have more hours in their week to put into more urgent tasks that in the past were being spent on more administrative-type tasks.

Maintain relationships with candidates: If you have candidates who have already been through the hiring process or made it through several interviews before the hiring freeze was enacted, maintain relationships with them and keep them informed about any updates or changes in the hiring situation. This can help you quickly fill roles once the hiring freeze is lifted.

Not every candidate will stick around to hear when the hiring freeze is lifted. But the candidates who loved your company, and whom you also felt were a great fit may still be available in the upcoming months and would jump at the opportunity to join.

If a candidate you’d be interested in hiring reaches out to check in, it’s perfectly appropriate to send them a short, but polite update that you can't make them any offers quite yet, but still wish to stay in touch.

Be patient and adaptable: A hiring freeze can be a challenging situation, but it is important to remain patient and positive, especially around your team. Focus on developing your team's skills and finding creative solutions to staffing needs, and be prepared to change your strategy as needed. Your team will respond to the precedent that you set, so remaining calm and helping them problem solve (instead of getting exasperated or frustrated) will go far.

Hiring Managers - what are some tips you would share with a team or a company that’s in a hiring freeze?