More and more companies are securing employees early so that they are not snatched away by the competition. Certain talents are apparently particularly in demand.

The shortage of skilled workers affects not only the working world of today, but also that of tomorrow. A change in strategy can be seen in human resources management in German companies. New employees are increasingly being hired to meet future needs and not current ones. This new trend is called “Fridge Hiring”. This is an attempt to secure sought-after personnel before they are hired by another company.

The job site Indeed found this out in a representative survey of 400 recruiters. According to this, four out of five HR managers have already proactively hired employees to cover future needs.

The focus is primarily on mid-level employees (54.7 percent) and young talent who are new to the job market (44.7 percent). For 29.5 percent of those surveyed, students are part of the target group. Employees in management positions, on the other hand, are given less attention when it comes to “fridge hiring” (13.4 percent).

According to Indeed, so-called “fridge hiring” has increased significantly recently, apparently as a consequence of the widespread shortage of workers. 71.6 percent of those surveyed stated that they had increased the early acquisition of employees in the past twelve months. The reasons for this are the fight against the shortage of staff and the expansion of the workforce (45.3 and 35.5 percent respectively). 30.3 percent are also already looking for a successor for employees who are about to retire.

The situation in Germany is extremely tense here because the number of births has fallen sharply since the 1970s. More and more people from the so-called baby boomer generation, those children born between 1950 and 1970 during the boom years, will soon be retiring. At that time, every woman in Germany gave birth to an average of 2.2 babies; in 1994 it was just 1.24. This poses a major challenge for our country: The shortage of skilled workers is spreading to almost all areas because the number of young professionals is significantly lower than that of the new retirees.

According to the Indeed figures, however, people are also proactively hired for economic reasons: 20.6 percent of HR managers justify the acquisition with a planned upcoming expansion in the company despite a lack of demand, 16 percent are proactive in hiring in order to achieve a targeted growth in employees.

Companies are particularly often looking for talent in the IT area and in sales. 30.4 percent of those surveyed stated that they hire employees for the IT area before they are even needed. Talents in sales are also considered particularly valuable among HR professionals: 21.9 percent stated that they would secure talents in sales as early as possible. HR managers are in third place with 19.1 percent for “fridge hiring”. Finance and marketing professionals are less likely to be hired this way (10.3 and 11.9 percent, respectively), according to the survey.

Basic specialist knowledge of the potential workforce is decisive for most HR managers for successful recruitment: 41.8 percent name technical and professional competence as the most important skill, followed by the ability to work in a team with 37.3 percent. The priorities are different for those starting their careers: for 7.5 percent of HR managers, comparatively low salary expectations are important, while 9.5 percent name special milestones in the CV as decisive.

“More and more companies are securing talent early so that they are not snatched away by the competition. According to our survey, this has been the case for at least the last twelve months. Given the shortage of staff, this development is logical and understandable,” comments Annina Hering, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. “In the near future, companies will certainly consider whether to continue to pursue this strategy consistently or to scale back a little in view of the economic uncertainties.”

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Recently, the job cuts in the tech and biotech industry – primarily in the Californian Bay Area – made headlines. Industry experts estimate that around 50,000 jobs will be lost among the big players there. There are also countless jobs in failed start-ups. A development that had fueled fears that the wave of layoffs from the USA could soon spill over to Germany.

Because the German labor market is booming and there is a shortage of skilled workers – but also the energy crisis. How the market will develop accordingly depends on the course of a possible recession. If the economic performance of the Federal Republic, i.e. the gross domestic product (GDP), shrinks, the companies will produce less, earn less and therefore hire fewer new staff or even evict them.

However, the federal government no longer expects a recession for the current year. In its latest economic forecast, which the Green Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck presented with the annual economic report, the government assumes gross domestic product growth of 0.2 percent for 2023. This is good news, also for the job market.

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Meanwhile, Hering is even convinced that in the long term it can be assumed that the trend towards “fridge hiring” will increase again. “Securing personnel is becoming more and more fundamental to corporate success as a result of demographic change and intensifying competition for the best employees.”

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Germany is aging rapidly. Many fear that the pension system will not survive this development. And that’s not the only problem in a country whose citizens are living longer. Nevertheless, it is not too late to master the path to a functioning “society of longevity”.