This economy is….weird.

Are we in a recession? Heading into one? Not going to go there anytime soon?

Even though U.S. job growth continued to rise in September, the latest figures we have available as of this writing, inflation has started – and probably will continue – to impact hiring budgets. (Or, as the article linked to states: “U.S. employment unexpectedly surged in September, illustrating a durable labor market and bolstering the case for another Federal Reserve interest-rate hike.”)

Higher interest rates – as we’ve all come to understand, and intimately so – means just about everything becomes more expensive. Including the cost of recruiting/hiring.

Strategies for recruiting on a tight budget

  • Your best bet – by FAR – is to use your current employees for candidate referrals.

Great people know other great people.

You know this, but when you’re trying to fill 10 positions within one month – or a lot more in a month – you’re stress levels increase and your memory may “fade” a bit. Employee referrals are absolutely terrific ways to find great people fast. Especially if you continually ask for referrals. Even when you don’t need to hire. Even when you’re inundated with candidates.

Employee referrals can reduce your time-to-hire by up to 40 percent: hiring a referred candidate takes on average 29 days to hire, compared to 39 days for someone who comes to your company via job board and 55 days for someone who finds your company’s career page and then applies.

(Make up a new mantra: AAfR: Always Ask for Referrals.)

  • You’ll want to make sure your employee referral program incentives are robust.

Offer truly attractive incentives such as a healthy financial payment when a referred candidate is hired and then 30 and even 90 days out. There’s just something about getting a referral bonus multiple times for one successful candidate that can really get your team members excited.

Don’t stop there:

Also place each employee who refers a candidate – even if their referral is never hired – into a drawing for gift certificates. The certificates can be small – gift cards to local coffee shops/movie tickets, etc. – but also consider making them really attractive for employees so that they’ll continually refer candidates:

  • One referral: a gift card to a coffee shop.
  • Two referrals: a certificate to a mid-range restaurant
  • Three referrals: A $50 Visa card.


  • Offer employee benefits that today’s candidates really want.

Flexible schedules and higher pay (with an eye toward different perks that different generations find attractive) such as:

  • Mental health resources (a millennial favorite).
  • Opportunities for upskilling (millennials).
  • DEI programs (millennials and GenZ).
  • Flexible parental leave (Gen Z).
  • Flexible paid time off (millennials).


  • Keep your current employees long-term.

You’re not spending money on recruiting if you’re not experiencing employee churn.

  • Use a staffing agency such as ours.

Staffing/recruiting companies such as Debbie’s Staffing reduce a company’s recruiting costs by:

  • Specializing in hiring, recruiting and candidate selection: it’s all we do.
  • Having pre-screened, qualified candidates readily available, thus saving you time.
  • The potential for on-demand hiring for last-minute needs and then flexibility when you no longer need the worker(s).
  • On-demand hiring; bring someone on when you need them; let them go when you don’t, thus reducing your employee benefits and PTO costs.
  • Payroll, taxes, benefits/insurance are the staffing firm’s responsibility for their employee on assignment with you, thus lowering your administrative costs.
  • A highly diverse talent pool, which means you can bring someone with specific skills onboard faster.

The overall savings, reduced employer risks and higher efficiencies mean using the services of a staffing firm is a very cost-effective option of businesses.

Learn more about how Debbie’s Staffing can help you hire great people when your recruiting budget is tight.