2021 is here. If you’re a recruiter, I have one question for you…are you really ready for it? Or are you going to get sucker-punched like you were in March of 2020?

Look, I’m not trying to be confrontational, but here’s the deal. Hiring needs are set to EXPLODE in the near future. Probably in the next 30-60 days. We’re already seeing an uptick in the number of new jobs.

The stock market is steadily improving. The uncertainty of the 2020 presidential election is well behind us.

All the signs are there that hiring will be picking up – and fast. In 2020, one of the biggest challenges recruiters faced was a lack of open positions and hiring freezes abound.

But right now, I think a lot of recruiters are going to have the opposite problem…way too many open positions and not enough time or candidates to fill them.

Your Job is About to Suck If You Aren’t Prepared

Back in November, I talked to a recruiting leader who was facing a mountain of open positions with limited internal resources. One week they had 300 open positions. The next week, they had 450. For reference, they had a grand total of EIGHT internal recruiters. So you can imagine what life was like for them!

To be frank, they were caught with their pants down.

The recruiters were stressed out and overworked. Hiring leaders and management were dealing with running the business while severely understaffed.

Not a good situation for anyone to be in. I’m really hoping you don’t end up in the same boat!

It’s safe to say that most companies will be in a similar situation in quarter one of 2021 or quarter two at the latest.

Maybe it won’t be severe as the company in my example, but there’s no doubt many organizations will need to rapidly and aggressively scale their teams to keep pace with the recovery.

Now here’s the kicker. What can recruiters actually do to prepare themselves TODAY?

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

The #1 thing EVERY recruiter needs to do right now is build and cultivate relationships.

I don’t care how many reqs you do or don’t have open. You need to play the long game and start connecting with candidates that fit your company, introducing yourself, and learning about themselves and their career goals.


Hiring needs spike and fall. It happens. As recruiters, you can’t control that.

What you CAN control is your relationships with candidates. You can control how much effort you put relationships with different candidates.

If you only call up candidates when you have an open position, ignore their messages, and your relationships begin and end based on your current reqs, you’re going to be in trouble when hiring needs spike.

But if you have a broad network of candidates and you have REAL relationships with them, those candidates will be much more likely to talk about your next open role, and much more interested in what you have to say.

I know what you’re thinking. “Ugh, that sounds like a lot of time and effort!” Well, you’re right.

But I guarantee you will deliver a LOT more value as a recruiter if you have those relationships in place. You’ll also manage hiring spikes way more efficiently – actually saving tons of time!

A lot of recruiters lost their jobs in 2020. If you want to remain employed and even advance your career when hiring needs fall off, you want a track record of making quality placements based on quality relationships. So start connecting with candidates – today.

Ask them how they’re doing, what they do and don’t like about their current position, their career goals, etc. Show a genuine interest and keep them on file for later down the line. Trust me – it will pay off!

Skate to Where the Puck is Going

Look, nobody can predict the future. No one knows with 100% certainty who your company will need to hire, and when they will start hiring. But you sure as heck can get a temperature check.

What the best recruiters are doing RIGHT NOW is talking to people within their own company.

They’re scheduling informational interviews with different leaders and asking thoughtful questions about what hiring needs you may have in a few months. It takes a lot of time to build and maintain relationships.

And you don’t have time for everyone. That’s why you need to zero in on the talent that your company will likely be hiring in a few months’ time.

That way, you can focus on engaging the candidates you’ll be hiring in the near future.

Playing the Long Game

As a recruiter, I know you already have a lot on your plate. I know building relationships and talking to leaders internally can take a lot of time. But when you think about it, this is one of those instances where investing the time TODAY pays dividends.

By spending the time to build relationships today, you may save yourself from a 80-hour week during your next hiring spike.

By making truly quality placements that stick around long-term, you can save yourself another search for the same position in a few months’ time.

And most importantly, you add real value to the company – which is the single best thing you can do to advance your career. Or you can ignore all the above and get sucker-punched again.

The choice is yours! If you want to learn more about how to add real value as a recruiter and overcome common recruiting challenges, subscribe to our YouTube channel today!