For some recruiters, hiring freezes have meant work has crawled to a standstill. For others, urgent, high-volume staffing needs have ratcheted hiring up to a frenzied pace. For most, the move to remote work coupled with the stress of a global pandemic has meant an industry upheaval unlike any we’ve seen in modern history. So what will recruiting look like in 2021 and beyond?
In its Recruiter Nation survey¹, Jobvite gathered input from more than 800 HR and recruiting professionals about the future of the field and the trends on the immediate horizon. From shifting hiring priorities to new areas of concern among candidates, here are seven of the survey’s biggest takeaways to know about as we head into a new year.
What Staffing Shifts to Expect in 2021
1. Quality Trumps Time to Hire
Nearly three-quarters of recruiters say their hiring priorities for the next 12 months will be different from those of the last 12. Fifty-two percent cited improving the quality of their hires as their number one recruiting goal for 2021.
So how does that differ from previous years? Recruiters are much less interested in growing their talent pipelines than they were a few years ago, probably thanks in no small part to an abundance of qualified candidates entering the market as unemployment levels spiked. Reducing time to hire was also less of a concern than in years past as more urgent hiring issues have taken center stage.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the influx of new candidates to the job market may make it harder rather than easier for recruiters to achieve their high-quality goals; more applications to sort through could mean a greater chance of top candidates getting lost in the shuffle. So, it’s all the more important for hiring personnel to refer back to their strategic staffing plans and rely on assistance from tools like applicant tracking systems and pre-employment assessments when making hiring decisions.
2. More Organizations Adopt Diversity Hiring Goals
2020 saw diversity initiatives move to the forefront in a huge way, not just in the context of employment but as a full-scale social movement. A majority of the companies Jobvite surveyed said they’re working toward specific goals for diversity in hiring with respect to race/ethnicity and gender, with 22% naming it as the top objective.
It’s a topic of growing interest for candidates, too. A third of recruiters say more applicants are asking about diversity and inclusion initiatives than they did in the previous year.
More diverse organizations tend to be more creative and have stronger bottom lines than their more homogenous counterparts, but that’s not the only upside to setting and working toward diversity hiring goals. Prioritizing diversity hiring can help you stay competitive, especially in fields like tech where the struggle to win top talent has become ultra-fierce in recent months.
3. Increased Investment in Social Media, Employee Referral Programs, and Job Boards
With regard to where they intend to find talent, the largest portion of recruiters planned to invest more of their efforts and budget in social media. Not surprisingly, professional network LinkedIn was the most prominent platform of focus, especially among companies with 500 employees or more.
Employee referral programs and job boards rounded out the top three slots for where recruiters will prioritize spending in 2021.
One noteworthy shift over the last three years is on outside recruiting assistance, like talent agencies. In 2017, just 7% of companies said they planned to prioritize spending with firms like recruiting agencies to aid in their talent acquisition efforts. In 2020, that number jumped to 23%.
In a period of continued uncertainty, a staffing agency can help you set strategic hiring goals meant to promote stability and reduce issues like turnover. With their ability to access nontraditional and passive candidates quickly, a professional recruiter can help you scale your staff up or down in real-time in response to changing market conditions that are likely to persist well into the new year.
4. Competition and Persistent Skills Shortages Pose an Ongoing Challenge
Too many candidates, but too few of the right ones–that’s the biggest staffing woe among recruiters heading into 2021.
Massive companies like Facebook, Amazon, and FedEx have spent the majority of the past year hiring in unprecedented numbers in response to soaring pandemic-related demand. Amazon alone was hiring a record-shattering 2,800 employees a day² at the start of December; experts say no American company has ever hired so many people so quickly. As a result, top candidates are getting snatched up at lightning speed, leaving smaller companies in the lurch and struggling to compete.
At the same time, the highest unemployment levels in a decade mean people are looking for work–any kind of work–meaning more applications from unqualified or ill-fitting candidates than at any other time in recent history. It’s a staffing catch-22 that recruiters will be forced to find new ways to wrangle in 2021.
HR personnel also cite candidate communication as a growing challenge. Having more candidates in the pipeline puts a strain on insufficient systems and exposes breakdowns that were more likely to stay hidden in times where there were fewer applicants to keep up with.
5. Remote Interviews for Remote Positions are the New Majority
It should come as no surprise that interviewing isn’t remotely the same as it was a year ago (see what we did there?). Though 77% of recruiters believe in-person interviews are the most effective way to qualify a candidate, 61% say they believe video interviews will be the default interview mode moving forward.
Though the vast majority of hiring managers are now comfortable using video interviews, they’re still plagued with their fair share of challenges. Poor connectivity, inappropriate candidate attire and lack of eye contact are the biggest video interview gripes.
The positions companies are looking to fill are following suit in the remote trend, with a third of recruiters saying the majority of roles they’re hiring for are offsite. Between 25 and 50% of positions can be onboarded without the employee ever visiting the company’s physical headquarters. In some cases, this will be a make or break factor in a candidate choosing whether to accept a role.
6. More Candidates Express Interest in Mental Health Benefits
One of the most troubling implications of the pandemic is its effect on our collective mental health–implications we probably won’t fully grasp the scope of for some time. And yet, candidates have already begun factoring companies’ approach to mental well-being into their decision whether to accept a job.
Almost half of the recruiters Jobvite spoke to said job seekers are asking about mental health benefits more frequently since the onset of Covid-19. Now, more candidates are inquiring about
employers’ flexibility to accommodate working parents, with millions of professionals trying to juggle remote work with managing virtual learning and childcare duties.
Medical and dental coverage and work-from-home capabilities top candidates’ list of most desired benefits, while their interest in other perks, like education reimbursement and a casual dress code, has waned considerably since the pandemic’s inception.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that candidates aren’t the only ones grappling with increased demands and the resulting stress; 61% of recruiters say their stress has increased by some level since the pandemic began, while nearly 20% say the amount of stress they’re under has increased drastically.
7. Recruiters Find New Ways to Use AI
The use of artificial intelligence in recruiting has been on the rise for several years now, and the trend continues heading into 2021. Hiring managers’ top uses for AI this year included job candidate matching, candidate screening, and recommendations for job descriptions. AI-powered tools, like smart applicant tracking systems, are increasingly being used to offload repetitive tasks like sending automated communications to candidates and scheduling interviews.
Though AI and machine learning have the potential to save recruiters time and cut down on tedious tasks, not everyone in staffing is sold on its benefits; just 36% of recruiters definitively say AI makes their jobs better. Twenty-three percent feel it improves their job in some areas but makes it more of a challenge in others.
Achieve Staffing Success in 2021 With Help From the Recruiting Experts
From new technology to shifting social trends, the staffing landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever before. Do you have the infrastructure in place to keep up? Stay ahead of the hiring curve by enlisting our team of dedicated professionals for your 2021 staffing needs.
We can help you hire the right person for the job the first time around, saving you time and money. But our services don’t end there; when you work with our team of pros, you’ll get expert recommendations for improving your hiring efficiency and prioritizing the roles that will make the biggest impact on your organization.
Start the conversation by scheduling your complimentary consultation today.
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