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2021 Recruiting Trends

May 28, 2021

By Sheila Hoover, originally featured in SBAM’s Focus Magazine

Recruiting changed significantly in 2020, and recruiters have had to make adjustments as they continue a plan in 2021. Multiple recruitment experts expect the pace of change will remain about the same over the next several months. This means another year of adjusting to a constantly evolving environment. 

“I think it’s not necessarily a complete rewrite of the recruiting process for everybody, but I think it’s time to look and revise and improve and think about the process of improvement over time,” says Corey Berkey, vice president of human resources at JazzHR.  “I think there’s going to be a lot of iteration going on here in the next 12 months.” 

What areas are going to continue to change? 

Inclusion, Social Responsibility & Authenticity 

As you hire in 2021, focus on ensuring structural equity of wages and leadership representation for those in underrepresented groups based on gender, race and other characteristics. Addressing this requires more attention to your internal retrospection. Also make sure to put the effort in, so employees feel welcome and empowered to be their true selves at work. Also actively solicit their feedback on how to improve in these areas. 

“You can’t just check the box and say, ‘Oh, hey, we hired a few people from underrepresented backgrounds. We put pictures of them on our website. We did it.’ No, people want more,” Jon Stross, co-founder of Greenhouse Software told HR Dive. 

“If we’re talking about mitigating bias in your recruiting process, you have to structure your process,” he continued. Recruiters should “interrogate” their processes, Stross said, collecting demographic data and identifying potential roadblocks. “There’s not one answer; different companies are gonna have issues at different places.” 

Remote Work Labor Pool 

For companies continuing remote work after the pandemic, you need to consider the location of your employees. Each state has different employment laws, registration requirements and other standards that can add complications to hiring in a wider labor pool. If you plan on opening your recruitment across the United States, be sure you know what you are getting into. 

Increased Transparency 

Be honest with candidates during the hiring process. The increased use of social media as a channel for employees to share the reality of their work experiences makes this even more critical. 

“Recruiters and hiring managers must be prepared to have authentic conversations with candidates and answer their questions about all aspects of the job and employee experience,” Lauren Smith, vice president of the Gartner HR practice, told HR Dive. “Those that fail to have transparent, honest conversations will create challenges when candidates join the organization and realize that there is a mismatch between what they were told and what they experience on the job.” 

Surge in Available Talent 

Once the COVID-19 vaccine reaches a majority of the public, industry experts believe recruiting efforts will pick up. Businesses will be posting more openings and workers will be looking for new jobs.  

“There was this prediction that our cup will overflow with candidates and it hasn’t been the case,” Berkey said. “It is not as challenging to get candidates as it was in 2019, but I would say it is equally if not more challenging to get qualified candidates.”   

Berkey said he’s identified a surge in available talent in the market. “But a surge in candidates does not always correlate to a surge in candidate quality.” 

Many passive candidates have been holding off looking for a new position because of the pandemic. We expect to see a sharp spike in voluntary departures for new positions once the pandemic is controlled. 

COVID-19 Conversations 

Continuing to have conversations about what your company is doing for employees and to mitigate COVID-19 risks is critical right now. 

“Recruiters should proactively share return-to-the-workplace plans, how they may vary by locations and talent segment, and how it will impact their particular role,” Smith said. “Recruiters should be equipped to share the upcoming decision points, who will be making these decisions, and how they will be communicated to employees.”  

“Be honest about where you are as a company,” Stross advised. “If you did layoffs, you gotta be honest about it. If you say, ‘Hey, our company is on a D&I journey. We maybe aren’t where we want to be.’ It’s okay to be honest to candidates and tell them ‘here’s where we’re actually at’.”  Honesty in the interview develops a stronger relationship and helps with retention of that new employee. 

Virtual vs. In-Person Recruiting 

The pandemic has required companies to adjust their recruiting efforts and rely on virtual interviews to hire their new employees. While this will most likely continue even beyond the pandemic, many recruiters believe in-person conversations are irreplaceable. 

“I think that most companies, unless they were an entirely virtual company to begin with, still found a lot of value in bringing people into the office,” Berkey said. “A lot of businesses I know can use that to sell the value of joining that team,” he later added. Berkey noted the value of nice office spaces equipped with technology and other perks such as snacks or recreation spaces. 

Employment Branding & Onboarding 

Workforce strategists are focused on employment branding and more of the process moving online. Employers also need to get better at sharing their culture through virtual channels.  

Onboarding is more than completing the necessary payroll paperwork and providing the necessary equipment. According to Stross, “It’s now a hardcore, managerial responsibility of making the employee feel like part of the company, being intentional about making relationships within the organization, and getting them set up on communication and collaboration platforms.” 

As we move forward through 2021, and navigate the changes, there is one main point recruiters and hiring managers need to follow. We must treat our candidates as if they are the prized commodity—because they are. 

Sheila Hoover is ASE’s Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. In this position, she manages the Talent Acquisition Service for ASE which includes the Contract, Contract-to-Hire, Direct Hire, and HR on Demand professional placements. Before joining ASE, Sheila has held progressive human resources positions in various industries, including HR Business Partner and Talent Acquisition Manager for a large construction company, HR Manager for a call center, and Talent Acquisition Manager at an automotive supplier. Sheila has an Associate Degree in Legal Assisting and BS in Personnel Management from Ferris State University.

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