HR Blog

Talent Acquisition in Times of Turmoil

A Hiring Snapshot

People are challenged in many different ways throughout their lifetime. It’s the challenges that define us. As the world unites together to face what will be a defining moment for multiple generations, our experiences differ. At Spotify, we always put our people first, and putting our people at the center has been a great guide in how we can choose to live our moment.  

We are more fortunate than many, and are humbled to be in a position to continue hiring. We made a choice to help our managers be as present as ever for their people, and we focused on providing the best experience possible for new band members, prioritizing our hiring initiatives in line with this.

Even with re-prioritization and adjustments, recruiting during a global pandemic comes with its share of opportunities and challenges; a more available talent pool, window shoppers, mobility and hiring the right talent for Spotify. 


It’s the elephant in the room. Layoffs. Yes, layoffs tend to mean a more available talent pool.  This leads many to believe that all you need to do is open up the basket and fish will jump in.  However, this is not the case nor is it how we’ve experienced it. Meaning  in this specific case, just because you have more fish, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right fish.  

One of the on-going challenges for any company in hyper-growth is finding the right talent within  the quantity. Interestingly enough, our average number of applications has not changed over the last few months. Today’s secret sauce is to get ahead of the curve, and think about outreach and how we approach talent. In addition, it’s more important than ever to raise the game when it comes to how talent is assessed from initial outreach and all the way through the interview process.

Window Shoppers    

It’s typical within the first three months of every year, the window shoppers come out for a stroll.  Talent that just completed another year with their current employer are open to exploring what their options are. Prior to the global pandemic, some were either preparing to browse or already were. For those fortunate enough to be employed at this time, some have come to the conclusion, right or wrong, that it might be best to press pause on their browsing. And, let’s not forget – the risk goes both ways. As a new hire you’re placing a bet on the company you’ve decided to join, just as the hiring manager is placing a bet on their new hire.  

Risk is at an all time high for both parties, and even more so in unprecedented times. 

The decision to extend an offer and the conclusion a candidate must reach when not being able to step on-site or meet your potential manager in person is one I doubt anyone ever expected they would face. In addition, being the brand new member of a company, of a team during a time of uncertainty can be a scary thought. 

Thus far, the data tells us it’s 50/50. Although candidates are withdrawing from the process at a heightened rate, hires have increased. Despite some shoppers heading home, others have decided to buy a new pair of running sneakers. 


Our mobility teams who are responsible for relocation, immigration, green cards etc. are facing more challenges than ever. As a result of most embassies being closed or delayed, candidates that require visas and their hiring managers are finding themselves in a precarious position trying to lock in a start date that is realistic and reasonable. In addition, travel restrictions are causing delays with relocation efforts. This may not be as challenging when recruiting from the talent pool within one country, however it poses a significant dilemma for companies that search for talent globally. 

What does this mean for employers? A heightened focus on hiring locally, while balancing when it makes sense to find talent elsewhere. Balance and flexibility is key. We must do what is right for our new joiners while being flexible and finding new and creative ways to make it all work.  

Doing what’s right means supporting new hires to make the responsible decision that doesn’t put them in a vulnerable position. If you come to the conclusion that starting remotely isn’t an option or pushing a start date out, so be it. When you have checked this box, it’s time to come together and create an engaging remote working environment where your employee feels connected and engaged regardless of the distance.

Where does the road ahead lead?     

We built a lot of momentum after a solid first quarter, however we’re driving into unchartered territory right now. The data is ever changing, behaviors are unpredictable, yet it’s imperative we press on. The challenges of yesterday will not be the challenges of tomorrow.  One lingering question we  must ask ourselves is are people looking for a job, or are people looking for a job with us? Although talent that wasn’t on the market yesterday is now open to listening, knowingly creating future flight risks can be counterproductive.   

It’s clear that before this crisis, fewer than 50% of companies had a remote work program. Today, most companies are building out remote work strategies. We’re looking into our real-time data sets and will certainly not go back to the previous approach in the future, but will instead create a more distributed workplace built on our new learnings. This will have an affect on how we will recruit and who we will recruit in our next chapter. 

Also, the road ahead will most likely involve some of the new ways of working that we’ve added to the toolbox, strengthening creativity and the use of technology in recruiting. For example less in-person interviewing, assessment tools becoming a standard vs a nice to have, and less bias.

Our main thoughts for right now? Quickly assess what jobs are going away and start to align people toward new roles quickly. Do the prudent thing, pump the breaks and accelerate at the same time. Reframe talent acquisition, focusing on real-time action and agility. This is the time to build new muscles and implement real-time data collection.

Don’t be reactive – stay true to your company values and remain confident that we will all come out of this stronger than ever.


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