Hiring Trends To Plan For in 2021
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Hiring Trends To Plan For in 2021

Avantika Mishra

Last year was not easy on recruiters. The pandemic proved to be a historic change agent and transformed the recruiting landscape. As virtual recruiting and onboarding a remote workforce became the norm for many, changes expected to take years happened in months instead.

Internal mobility, upskilling programs, workforce diversity, etc., were happening in many companies for the first time. A few trends that were predicted to hit the recruitment processes globally finally received the urgency and accountability they always deserved.

Now that we enter 2021, we’re looking at a blank canvas. Possibilities are many, and recruiters worldwide are trying to make up for the loss they collectively experienced in some way or another.

Most people have accepted that things will not go back to ‘normal.’ Once the current medical emergency ends and people can move freely again, what will the hiring landscape look like?

And so the big question- Will post COVID-19 hiring be like before?

To create definite theories is not the answer. But to help you navigate through these changes and map out the coming year better, here are top global recruitment trends businesses, and HR professionals should be aware of in 2021 and beyond.

COVID-19 and The Great ‘Re-hiring’

Talent shortages in the United States have risen to historical levels, with 69% of employers having difficulty filling jobs - the highest in more than a decade.

To give you an idea of what that means, Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people, or roughly equivalent to Germany’s population.

While the current focus is on doing everything we can to cushion the coronavirus’s health-related impact (and navigating through the greater structural challenges), it’s worth considering what will happen once the health crisis is under control and millions of professionally displaced people seek new jobs.

Daniel Chait, CEO of New York City-based Greenhouse (one of the fastest-growing recruiting software providers), says we’re entering a phase of what he calls the "Great Re-hiring."

He believes that talent acquisition teams will play a major role in this transition. The following factors will be a significant focus for recruiters for the coming years:

Normalize Employee Turnovers

While the task of cutting back began mid-2020, now the recruitment teams will be burdened by the task of re-hiring talent.
The Labor Department reported a record high of 6.6 million job openings earlier last year, an all-time high affecting 50% of U.S. employers.

The immediate concern of hiring managers will be to fill job openings with the right talent quickly. This consideration will underline the efforts of recruiters across the globe.

Remote Workforce as The New Normal

Chait also makes a fascinating point about how remote work will drive this unprecedented re-shaping of what hiring means:

“...remote work is here to stay. Companies have already made the investment in remote infrastructure, culture changes, and tools purchasing and started to realize the savings of not having physical offices. Most of all, they have begun to see the amazing talent benefit of having a vastly expanded hiring pool; no longer limited to the people in commuting distance from their office, companies are able to hire the best person, anywhere, for their jobs."

Certainly, some in-person work will return, but there are good reasons to expect that remote is here to stay as a major factor.”

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How to Conduct Remote Interviews Effectively?

With changes in the HR space, technology has empowered a new breed of recruiters. These tech-empowered headhunters are savvy, highly strategic, proactive, and quick to find the right talent.

The Pandemic is nearly over, and to equip you with the right tools to help you get back on your feet, here the top recruitment trends that you should be aware of:

1. Employer Branding

According to a Glassdoor report, 69% of Americans said they would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed, and 84% would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent reputation.

Candidates are making employment decisions based on their perception of a company’s brand. Interestingly, these impressions don’t necessarily come from employer’s input.

All in all, the value of employer branding in recruitment cannot be dismissed.  Your company has an employer brand, and it heavily influences the kind of job applications you get.

Employer branding top priority for hiring trends in 2021
Source: Universum & Finances Online

Another key element that shapes an employer brand is its Employee Value Proposition or EVP.

An EVP ts integrates employee engagement programs with the company’s branding to attract and retain skilled candidates.

Here’s an example from Adidas’ EVP pillars to give you an idea:

  • “Through sport, we have the power to change lives.”
  • “The future runs on diverse and fresh perspectives.”
  • “Careers without borders.”

2. Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing measures personality traits and other capabilities that can help determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular position. These tests are transforming how recruitment is conducted throughout organizations.

Unlike AI emotional analytical tools that are considered unethical for recruitment processes by some, psychometric tests are developed scientifically and designed to be objective and unbiased.

Psychometric tests help measure traits like aptitude, communication style, and emotional intelligence that are great markers to understand a candidate’s personality fit for a given role.

A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that at present 18% of companies use psychometric testing in the hiring process.  This percentage of users is growing at a rate of 10-15% per year.

psychometirc testing as a hiring trend for 2021
Psychometric testing allows you to observe a candidate's personality with a 360 degree perspective 

A few popular corporations that use psychometric testing in their hiring processes are Practo, Citigroup, Banish, Ford Motor, Hewlett Packard, and Procter and Gamble.

Here are some of the key benefits of using psychometric testing in your recruitment process:

  • Identifying leadership potential in job applicants
  • Understanding how people will behave at work
  • Interpreting candidate emotions and their ability to maintain relationships
  • Accurately testing general intelligence of candidates

3. Companies will Focus on L&D and Internal Mobility

“The future of talent acquisition lies in reskilling, rather than finding someone better in the market. If you need to hire today, you needed to reskill yesterday.”
                               - Rajesh Ahuja, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Infosys

In their hiring trends report, LinkedIn highlights that “recruiting will hire less, build and borrow more this year.” That means that internal mobility will no longer be just a nice-to-have and will transition to a must-have instead.

Recruiting will have the opportunity to build a rigorous internal mobility program when partnered with L&D and broader HR. Companies should aim at leveraging upskilling through internal mobility by creating a strategic plan of action.

To help employees fill qualification gaps for the upward movement internally, companies will aim to catalog employee’s current skills and tie up internal job opportunities to relevant L&D resources available.

Internal mobility becomes a top hiring trend in 2021
Source: Linkedin insights

This will bring a tectonic change in the way recruiters hire and access talent. There will be a prioritizing of an applicant’s potential and transferable skills, like adaptability and problem-solving over the traditional markers like qualifications and degrees.

4. DEI will Become a Priority for Companies Across Globe

According to Glassdoor, If employee satisfaction were a pie chart, the biggest piece would go to culture and values. 22% of employees in the U.S cite this as an important part of job satisfaction.

The second-largest piece of the pie — at 21% — would go to the quality of senior leadership, indicating that having a strong leader at your company’s helm attracts top talent.

Racial Justice amongst other DEI (Diversity, equity, and Inclusivity) considerations, has seen an uptick among prospective employees..

DEI is increasingly becoming a hiring trend in 2021
Source: Bonusly ‌‌

DEI considerations are not just a recruitment yardstick but are also used in employee engagement programs to espouse acceptability among employee groups.

Since companies worldwide pledged their support for Black Lives Matter and greater diversity, candidates, employees, and consumers have been looking to see how these words translate into action.

Diversity is no longer just a feel-good “initiative,” but a business-critical imperative. To reach the bottom of the funnel, DEI practices in recruitment could lead the way.

Cheryl Roubian, vice president of people at Greenhouse, says:

"This (bias in hiring processes) is far from being a new idea, but the confluence of increased awareness, the availability of talent and geographic flexibility will continue to amplify the importance of investing in the right tools to build more diverse teams."

5. Recruiters will Expand Their Skill Sets

According to a Linkedin’s survey of over 1,500 talent professionals and in-depth interviews with talent leaders worldwide, the no. 1 skill for recruiters to embrace in 2021 is adaptability.

Source: Linkedin Insights

From the graphs above, it’s interesting to note that the fastest-growing skills among recruiters during the pandemic was personal development.

This isn't surprising given the challenges we faced last year. Recruiters are rapidly adding skills like bringing clarity to talent data, reshaping employer branding, and fine-tuning the virtual hiring process, among other things.

Johnny Campbell, CEO of Dublin-based SocialTalent (a learning platform for recruiters), says something recruiters across the world could find valuable:

"We saw recruiters massively increase their appetite for learning as soon as COVID-19 hit last March, more than doubling their normal learning consumption in the following months. Hot topics included talent advisory training, virtual interviewing, being productive while working remotely, virtual onboarding, and internal mobility.”

Further on, he added that “Learning how to be better talent advisors is always a popular topic for recruiters, but many more sought it out for the first time as their hiring managers frantically reached out to them with a massive demand for information about the evolving labor market."

6. HR Automation will Move Towards Becoming a Norm

HR automation and other digital recruitment trends have been around for a while. A layman’s perspective is that automation only affects manual, labor-intensive jobs. But the new class of such HR automation tools hold the capacity to transform a company’s hiring process.

72% of employers believe that some roles within talent acquisition and human capital management will be fully automated in the next ten years, as predicted by a recent survey by CareerBuilder.

Integrated HR automation can allow companies to cut hiring costs up to 17% and HR staff hours by 26%.

At the heart of HR automation are innovative recruitment automation solutions. Effective Recruiting Automation softwares leverage AI to streamline talent acquisition efforts. This includes (and is not limited to) building talent pools, sourcing candidates, and generally streamlining the process of vetting, attracting, and hiring talent.

By integrating automation tools in your hiring process, you can contract hiring timelines by catalyzing tasks like AI-resume screening, automated job listing, interview scheduling, and onboarding.

This allows your recruitment teams to give ample time for one thing that matters for effective recruiting --  authentically engaging with top candidates.

7. Candidate Experience Will be a Key Recruitment Factor

According to a Glassdoor survey, some of the positive experiences that job seeker look for are:

  • Regular communication- 58%
  • Clear expectations- 53%
  • Positive feedback regarding rejection - 51%

Candidate experience means the perception that a candidate holds about an organization’s recruitment process. Candidate experience has many aspects. These include how a candidate  navigates through the recruitment process and how a company engages with prospects.

Also, what kinds of interview processes you use, how clear is your communication channel, your approachability, and empathetic values, etc are strong considerations for job seekers

Candidate experience is also a powerful tool that drives how your company is perceived in the recruitment ecosystem. A majority of business owners report that candidate experience can impact buyer purchasing decisions. A negative hiring experience can convince over half of the candidates not to purchase a company’s products or services.

There are many innovations in the way recruiters choose the right candidate. AI and Gamification is one exciting example. Imagine being a nervous candidate applying at your dream job, and your interview process is not a 2D video interview but a video game that you have to play instead!

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How to Use AI and Gamification in Hiring for Effective Recruitment

A candidate’s recruitment experience affects an employer’s brand as well. A positive experience (whether they get the job or not) motivates 97% of candidates to refer other candidates. About 50% of candidates are also likely to share their experiences via social media.


2020 has left an indelible mark on humanity. But the good news is that the adversities of 2020 will act as lessons for talent acquisition trends in 2021.

Change is inevitable and the positive is that the pandemic has hastened the process.
More companies will adopt virtual recruiting technology, talent attraction efforts will shift towards remote candidates, internal talent pools will be more visible, and DEI efforts will rise.

In the end, Darwin’s law shall prevail- whoever adapts first is the fittest for the current times, and hence, will survive. We hope these trends help you make sense of the coming year and bring you the talent you deserve!

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