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Best PracticesSourcing & OutreachTalent Leadership

How recruiting teams use Gem during downturns

Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran

Content Strategist

Posted on

November 29, 2022

For many organizations in 2022, hiring has thoughtfully slowed. Of course, the point of a thoughtful headcount reduction is so the company can conserve revenue for more essential operations, allowing it to thrive in the long run. Hiring will resume at full speed; it always does. And you won’t want to be scrambling to catch up with demand—because every other business will have picked up hiring as well. Here’s how talent acquisition teams are finding critical value in Gem in the meantime:

Build, diversify, and nurture pipelines

Forward-thinking recruiting teams are checking in with hiring managers and Finance regularly to identify the roles they’ll most immediately need filled when hiring picks up again. What will the business likely be hiring for in three months? In six? In 12? Sourcers can then prioritize which roles to continue actively sourcing and building pipeline for in Gem. They can also experiment with thoughtfully diversifying search practices—actively seeking out candidates from underrepresented groups (URGs) on LinkedIn, SeekOut, GitHub, and elsewhere. The Gem extension sits wherever you search, auto-parsing prospect information so you can easily drop talent into projects.

From there, place prospective candidates in long-term nurture campaigns. It may seem counterintuitive to reach out when a role isn’t open yet; but this is precisely the time for recruiters to build real, genuine relationships with talent and strengthen employer brand. Gem allows you to stay in touch with talent pools through regular, personalized touchpoints. It also allows you to stay dynamic—adjusting your messaging strategy based on prospects’ behavior, such as open, click, and response rates. Focusing on candidate relationship management now will significantly reduce time to hire and cost per hire when headcount ramps back up again.

With candidate contact information, automated follow-ups, content stats, and demographic data to support your diversity outreach efforts, Gem lets you build your pipelines with quality candidates from any database—fast.


“We have a lot of roles on plan, so how do we nurture our networks so if that person is available in three months when we're ready to hire, we’re top-of-mind for them? Gem is wildly helpful with this. We’re seeing response rates go up these days—people are victims of hiring freezes or they’re working overtime because their teams have been cut. So people are more receptive right now, which is great for building foundational relationships.”

- Abigail Chambley, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Mission

“At Descript, we’ve always got a finger on the pulse of what will turn up next. We’ll always need engineers; product managers will always be difficult to hire. I’m constantly asking: who’d be an opportunistic hire for us? I have a shortlist of people—director level and above—whom I’m nurturing long-term, sending product release updates to, and checking in with. It’s helpful for us to continue to source regardless of what the market is doing; even if we’re not actively reaching out to people, list-building is still a great use of our time.”

- Shannon Toomey, Senior Manager, Recruiting @ Descript 

Strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives

With Gem, talent teams can look at historical pipelines and ask if, and why, URGs dropped out at certain stages of the hiring process more often than talent who is well-represented in the industry did. Armed with this information, they can know exactly what stages of the funnel need attention when it comes to equity, and/or to mitigating unconscious bias. Did talent drop out because they didn’t see themselves represented in your interview panel? Did you unwittingly implement an assessment that indicates distinct performance differences between demographic groups? Are certain demographics not passing a certain hiring manager’s screen?

Hiring slowdowns present invaluable opportunities to look at your process from a diversity lens—so when the market bounces back, you’ve got an equitable process firmly in place for all who enter your funnel.

DEI Insights

“In the early months of COVID, most of my focus at Gladly was on DEI—ensuring our value claims were backed with actions. We held a microscope to internal processes to ensure that everything we did, every action we took, was fair and equitable for everybody. That includes how we moved candidates through the stages of the funnel.”

- Chris Middlemass, Director of Talent Acquisition @ CaptivateIQ (formerly Head of Talent @ Gladly)

Dynamically maintain your CRM and talent pools

A huge priority during slowdowns should be ensuring your CRM is complete, organized, and up-to-date. When it comes to data cleanliness, Gem’s got you covered in a number of ways: 

Data Refresh, which automatically updates prospect information(job title, company, location, past experience, school, and education history) every 30 days so that profiles are always up-to-date. This way, recruiters won’t have to manually refresh every profile when those reqs open up again. This is especially important in today's environment, as talent relocates, acquires new skills, and transitions between industries. It's critical to know the latest developments on the talent in your CRM database, as it may open up new opportunities to spot a role in your organization that's a good fit for them.

Deep ATS integrations. Make sure all prospects and former candidates are accessible in your CRM so you have a single place to go when you need to hire again—before paying for job boards and agencies. Gem automatically imports a new ATS candidate into your CRM (and reconciles any duplicates) whenever you view someone on LinkedIn, in your email, or in your ATS. It also stores talent’s history with your company, including communication touchpoints, past applications, previous scorecards, and more. This gives you the confidence that your CRM contains everyone you’ve established a relationship with—meaning a deep talent network to draw from down the road.

Talent pool automation. Create a talent pool, define rules about who qualifies for it, and let Gem automatically route candidates to the right talent pool in your CRM. This happens every time you add a new candidate to Gem and every time a profile is refreshed (i.e., if a product manager moves from SF to NYC, they’ll be automatically routed to your NYC talent pool). This allows you to personalize your nurture strategies based on audience. It also makes it easy to quickly build high-quality pipelines when those roles open up down the road.

Dynamic Pool

Bulk resume upload and parsing. Our team found that resume parsing improved talent profile accuracy to 90+% on “current company” and “job” details after we enabled bulk resume parsing for our customers. (This is a huge need—and now a huge win!—for event marketing and early talent teams.)

Pull historical pipeline reports to optimize your hiring process 

Recruiting teams often either don’t have enough data or don’t have the time to turn that data into actionable insights to improve their hiring processes. Slowdowns change that. See what recruiters can discover about your hiring process until now. What stories does the data tell? Are there patterns in your dropout rates, rejection reasons, or sources of hire? What stages of your funnel need optimizing? The more insights recruiters can glean, the bigger impact they’ll have on time to hire and quality of hire when hiring turns back on. 

Gem’s Pipeline Analytics allows you to view your entire talent pipeline at glance. By taking Gem outreach data (sends, replies, and interested replies) and juxtaposing it with your team's ATS stages, we give you a full-funnel view from initial outreach to offer-accept. Slice the data by any number of filters—recruiter, coordinator, source, rejection reason, gender, race/ethnicity, and more—to get granular about the parts of your process that need the most attention.

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“We have a Friends of Mission referral bonus program. We’re using it a lot in our messaging these days—if it looks like someone we’re in conversation with will be off the market by the time we’re ready to hire for that position, we still want to be in their corner, and they’ll get a bonus if we hire their referral. But Gem’s data showed that only around 20% of referrals were getting through our initial phone screen, which told me that folks didn’t know how to qualify a referral. So my team is working on communications around qualifying.”

- Abigail Chambley, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Mission 

“In 2020, we sat down and asked ourselves, what metrics matter most to us? What goals do we want to hang our hats on? Once we’d answered those questions, we knew what data to prioritize cleaning up. That few months of work gave us substantial gains. One of the reports we ran in Gem was around how much of the team’s time we were using to review candidates. Let’s say it was 30 hours of time to hire a single person. We then set a goal of 20 hours per hire. It’s important to be able to quantify the ROI of data cleanup in terms that matter to a CFO. They care about the time their engineers spend on things other than building.”

- Jonathan Tamblyn, Chief People Officer @ Skolem (formerly VP, Head of Talent @ Gemini)

Evaluate your candidate experience

The very same data—time in stage, time to fill, passthrough rates, and so on—that will help optimize your hiring process will also bolster the candidate experience. With Gem, recruiters don’t have to dig deep into every stage of the funnel to understand efficiency, inclusiveness, and overall candidate experience: Gem feeds the data right up to them, so they know exactly what needs their attention.


Look at the historical data concerning your recruiting funnel and see where you can optimize. If a majority of candidates have tended to drop out during the assessment phase, for example, recruiters know to take this time to consult with their hiring managers: what assessment tools might be more attractive, engaging, and relevant to the position than the ones you’re using? The more time you spend closing these gaps, the less trouble you’ll face when hiring picks back up again. 

Sort By Department

It’s also possible—particularly if your organization has strong brand-recognition—that you’re seeing more inbound applicants than usual. What does your resume sorting and review process look like? Can it handle an uptick in volume without straining quality? Do you want a platform in place that allows you to respond to all applicants? 

With Gem, recruiting teams can take a proactive approach to job applications and decide where to start, rather than reviewing each new application as it comes in. Search by referrals, applicants that are past SLAs, talent you already have relationships with, and more. Quickly filter out disqualifying criteria (location-based criteria, recently rejected applicants, applicants in process elsewhere in your organization, and more), or search by keyword to surface the best matches for your open role.

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You can even add rejected, but promising, candidates into a dedicated talent pool for ongoing nurture so you have a warm and engaged pipeline for future job openings.

Strengthen relationships with hiring managers

Recruiting is a team sport; and if true partnerships with hiring managers (HMs) aren’t already in place, now is the time for recruiters to build them. Recruiters will set themselves up for much better success later on if HMs begin to view them as strategic thought partners during a lull. Maybe this is the time for recruiters to share the best practices they’ve derived from Gem’s hiring funnel data. Maybe these are simply one-on-one conversations about what skill sets departments are currently missing, so recruiters can source and hire more thoughtfully for the roles that are open. 

How do hiring managers envision the future of the team as it evolves over time? What skills (hard and soft) and experiences will be most valuable to them in future quarters? Frequently ask what roles will be prioritized when hiring ramps up again—the answers might change over time. Maintaining an open dialogue will mean recruiters have the resources available when those openings occur. 

“Chris Norris [former CTO @ Wheel] did a podcast about tech at Wheel; we put that in our outreach and Gem tracked clickthrough rates. That behavioral data showed passive talent was more interested in that podcast than a lot of other things we’ve linked to in the past. I took that data to Chris and said, now we know you need to do more podcasts. Clearly this is a powerful talent attraction strategy for us. You see tangible results in Gem that literally inform your hiring managers’ activity—not to mention your employer branding strategy.”

- Greg Troxell, Recruiting Manger @ Wheel

“I score my team on hiring manager experience because recruiters should be true business partners. What this means in this market is going to our HMs and saying: We just pushed out 10 roles from your hiring plan. What does that feel like? Which resources will be stretched? Which skill sets are we short on expertise in? My team absorbs those answers and takes them to market. That’s the pipeline they’re looking for. That work doesn’t stop just because we don’t have immediate openings.”

- Abigail Chambley, Director of Talent Acquisition @ Mission

Evaluate the success of your sourcing investments and optimize spend based on impact

Understandably in this uncertain macro-environment, businesses are taking a conservative approach to their budgets and asking teams to reduce their spending. This leaves TA teams under pressure to consolidate for what drives the greatest impact toward their goals. The problem is: Recruiting doesn’t always have a clear line of sight about which sources deliver the most impact so they can strategically allocate their budgets.

But with Gem’s forthcoming Source Spend Calculator, teams can easily track cost-per-application and cost-per-hire from each of their sourcing channels. They can leverage these data-driven insights to make better investment decisions about the channels they source from, driving both efficiency and cost-savings by removing those with low conversion rates and high cost per application/hire. Ultimately, this empowers teams to justify channel investments based on those that deliver the most hires per dollar spent. 

Create a more accurate capacity model

Capacity planning is one of the more important ways talent acquisition can be spending its time right now, because it could mark the end of a vicious cycle you probably know too well—especially given hiring is likely to pick up again sooner than later. So while you have the time and space, make your recruiting capacity model so accurate that you know with absolute certainty what your current ceiling is for hiring. This way, when the business comes to you a few months from now and says “We need you to hire 150,” and your model shows that you can only hire 100, you have the data to bolster you.

Gem tracks passthrough rates and forecasts how many hires you can make given historic throughput—data you can slice by everything from hiring manager, to recruiter, to department, to role. This allows recruiting teams to more closely partner with business leaders and Finance to make recruiting capacity an input into future headcount forecasts, rather than a reaction to it. 


Ultimately, this is a considerably better strategy when the hiring faucet turns back on than asking people to work harder or faster, where diversity and quality-of-hire get pushed to the wayside.  

“This is the time to bring on a solution like Gem even if your company isn’t hiring. Because at some point the floodgates are going to open, and you want your team ready when it’s time to step on the gas. I think every recruiter would love to have a hundred people ready to go for a niche role, or even for entry-level positions. There’s no time to do that when it’s go, go, go. Take this slow time to implement a system, learn it, build a candidate pipeline, and really get talent excited about your brand. So when you are back to hiring, people know exactly who you are.”

- Jaime Schmitt, Talent Attraction Manager for North America @ Celestica


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