Recruitment trends for 2021


As the dust settles on the chaotic year that was 2020, it’s already clear that the changes we’ve all had to make to our lifestyles will have a lasting impact into 2021 and beyond. In the world of work, priorities have shifted and recruiters are now on the lookout for more soft skills and digital know-how. On the other hand, candidates are now looking further afield geographically as the last year has proved that remote work is a genuine option for businesses. At the same time, there are new technologies to adopt and new skills that recruiters will have to develop to keep up with their competitors.

While some industries have been impacted more than others by the pandemic, recruiters for all businesses will need to prepare themselves for a challenging new environment. Here are some of the top recruitment trends we expect to see over the next year.

H2: Candidates will be seeking greater flexibility

The benefits of working from home have become clear to both candidates and employers over the last year. For many employees, the added flexibility to their lives will have become something they’re reluctant to give up. Improved work-life balance, more time with the family and less time spent commuting are all very attractive perks. Expect competitors to start highlighting working from home or flexible hours as options for workers. It will become more and more challenging for recruiters to stand out with these sorts of perks as they are increasingly portrayed as the standard.

H2: Location will be less critical to candidates
With the increase in flexible working, location will become less important to candidates. Even if the role isn’t set up for remote work all of the time, if they can work from home a few days a week, a longer commute will be less of an issue. This increases the pool of candidates to choose from but also means that the top candidates in your area could well be snapped up by a company located somewhere else.

H2: Therefore, it could become more difficult to recruit top candidates
With candidates expanding the geographical area in which they are looking for roles and with flexible working perks becoming the norm, it will become clear very quickly which businesses are keeping up with the new trends and which ones are falling behind. If it’s your company’s plan to get everyone back in the office full time as soon as is reasonably possible, even if it’s not strictly necessary, it may be worth giving some remote working opportunities some serious thought.

H2: Digital skills will become more important
We’ve all had a hiccup or two over the last year when it comes to technology. Launching into a presentation over Zoom with your microphone on mute or the WiFi cutting out at just the wrong moment. Without someone from the IT department able to just nip over and give you a hand, those that have a little digital know-how will have had a much easier time of it. This doesn’t just mean knowing when to deploy the old ‘switch it off and on again’ trick but more rounded digital literacy that will help you adapt to new software or programme updates with ease.

H2: Communication skills will become an even more important
With remote working on the rise, recruiters will be on the lookout for more soft skills. Top of the list here is communication skills. The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively is crucial when you’re not in the same room as your colleagues. For those with managerial responsibilities, this will become especially important. Keeping up to speed on a team’s progress and ensuring that everyone is on track with tasks and overall professional development is no mean feat without a physical catch-up every once in a while.

H2: Employer branding will become crucial
The way that candidates view your business will also become even more important. Many people will be looking for a certain level of security following the events of 2020. They will be looking for companies that have treated employees well, that managed to adapt quickly and efficiently during the pandemic and have clear plans for the future. Highlighting the way you’ve managed to navigate the crisis and bright plans for the future will help candidates trust you, which is crucial with so much uncertainty around.

H2: More emphasis on diversity
This was a big trend at the beginning of 2020 and even more so now. Making sure that you have a focus on diversifying your workforce right from the recruitment process is essential for your business’ growth. Highlighting the need for this and showing just how important it is for candidates, websites like Glassdoor are launching Diversity and Inclusion ratings for businesses.

H2: Increased use of technology
As a result of many organisations having to rapidly switch to a remote operation, tools like video conferencing software have been thoroughly tried and tested over the last year. This sort of technology, which has already been used for recruitment for years, will become more important as the trend of remote work continues. With candidates likely to start applying from further and further away if you offer remote working opportunities, video conferencing means that they won’t have to come to the office for each stage of your interview process. While you may want to see them in person at least once before making your final decision, introductory sessions can easily be carried out via video.

It’s not just the interviews themselves that can be taken online. If your role requires any sort of skills testing, digital assessment tools can also help streamline your process and highlight the strongest candidates within your pool. Some of these assessment tools are already quite advanced and are engaging for the candidates, even ‘game-like’. Making sure the candidates have a good experience at each stage of the process is highly important for capturing that top talent, so make sure this part doesn’t feel like a dreaded school exam.

H2: More recruitment tasks will become automated
While there are certain elements of the recruitment process where the human element remains essential, some tasks can easily be automated. This trend has been gathering momentum over the last few years and many firms, especially larger ones, already use AI to screen and even source candidates. Many of the basic admin tasks have also been taken over by AI for some businesses, such as scheduling candidates in for interviews.

Expect this trend to continue with ever more streamlined screening processes. Chatbots may be used increasingly in this initial stage of the recruitment process and skills testing is another area where we expect AI to start playing a significant role. Investing in an applicant tracking system (ATS) if you haven’t already done so, could save you lots of valuable time. This is software that can post jobs to multiple online jobs boards, screen applications to find the best candidates and even set up the interviews for you.

H2: An increase in data-driven recruitment
This trend was on the up in 2020 and is set to continue in the new year. There are powerful new tools available that can help recruiters make more informed decisions based on data. These tools are helping HR departments look at things like skill gap analysis, engagement, retention and workforce planning to overhaul their recruitment and retention strategies.

H2: More social recruiting

Social recruiting has been one of the top trends in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. Social media offers many benefits for recruiters, helping them find, attract and hire new candidates. Some even use it as a screening tool.

Recruiters will also be required to do more with social recruiting as competitors up their game. Social media allows you to have one-to-one engagement with potential employees in a personal way. This makes the candidate feel valued while allowing you to discover more about them before inviting them to interview.

Social media for recruiters isn’t just about posting job vacancies, it is also a fantastic tool for building your brand and ensuring that the top candidates see your most exciting projects. Speculative applications may come in this way, ensuring that you already have a pool of candidates available when a job role opens up.

Arguably, there is a need for recruiters themselves to upskill as they take on more and more marketing responsibilities like this. This is where the benefits of automating tasks will be felt, freeing staff up to spend more time learning new skills.

There’s no doubt that recruiters have a challenging year ahead. The world of work has undergone a major upheaval in 2020 and the impact of this must be considered while you’re putting your recruitment strategy together for the next year. Adopt new technologies that will streamline your processes and free up more time for your own professional development as you find your list of responsibilities growing. If you pay attention to each of the trends above and adapt, it will go a long way in making sure you’re still attracting the best candidates in 2021 and beyond.