The future of talent acquisition is virtual

2021 Recruiting Predictions from Talent Recruitment Experts

Dec 14, 2020 - Cat DiStasio

What will recruiting look like in 2021?

After everything we’ve been through in 2020, it’s safer than ever to say that none of us can predict the future entirely. However, this year’s challenges and lessons spurred a number of talent recruiting trends and innovations that will certainly carry into 2021. To gain a deeper understanding of how the recruiting landscape will continue to evolve in the coming year, we asked talent recruitment leaders in our community to share their insights, approaches, and advice for preparing for effective recruiting in 2021.

What will be the number one trend in talent recruitment in 2021?

Virtual recruiting dominated 2020 out of sheer necessity, forcing many employers to expedite their long-term plans to adopt virtual hiring practices and technologies. Employers have come to understand the value and benefits of virtual recruiting first hand — including reduced costs, time savings, improved candidate experience, improved DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) outcomes, and more — and these insights will continue informing talent acquisition trends in 2021 and beyond.

"The number one trend in talent acquisition in 2021 will be candidate experience. Coming out of the pandemic, job seekers will be looking for new careers, new positions, and new companies in this increasingly competitive market. Those that have lost their jobs will be anxious to find new ones. Those that did not leave an existing company job for fear of not finding another will be selective in their search. The experiences they have will greatly impact their decisions, as well as what they tell others in their inner circles." — Brian White, Executive Director of Human Resources & Operations, Auburn-Washburn Unified School District 437

"The top trend in 2021 will be recruiting at the team level for diversity. As more organizations learn and adapt DEI practices, they'll start to analyze who they need to have on each team, not just within the company. The goal will be more well rounded and diverse teams." — Lauryn Sargent, Stories Incorporated

"Employers that can showcase their great remote working experience, both in culture and in how they support diverse people with diverse responsibilities (parental and otherwise) in a remote environment with compensation that doesn't change based on where the candidate/employee lives will be a driving trend in 2021." — Anessa Fike, CEO, Fike + Co

"Employer branding, with an emphasis creating lower volume, higher quality recruiting outcomes, will be the top TA trend of 2021. In short, embracing 'attract and repel' as a fundamental recruiting strategy, driven by authentic content at scale." — Nate Guggia, Co-founder, Before You Apply

What best practice in the hiring space will we go back to using once the pandemic has ended?

Employers that adopted virtual recruiting for the first time in 2020, or leaned more heavily on virtual hiring than in previous years, enjoyed a myriad of benefits despite the challenges of hiring during a global health crisis. Virtual recruiting gives organizations the ability to streamline recruiting processes, improve diversity hiring, and hire better talent by reaching across geographic barriers. These gains mean virtual recruiting has earned its place in the ongoing talent acquisition strategies of nearly every industry across the country, and employers will continue to use virtual recruiting alongside more traditional in-person recruiting and interviewing once it’s safe to meet with candidates face-to-face again. A new hybrid recruiting model and recruitment process is emerging, in which employers blend traditional and virtual recruiting methods to drive more efficient processes and even better outcomes in their talent strategy goals.

"We will have more in-person interviews, but certainly not to the extent that was pre-pandemic. Leaders and candidates have learned to work remotely and communicate virtually. I would go so far as to say that leaders have been forced to trust the process more and rely on their "feelings" about a candidate less." — Liza Voticky, Transformational Talent Attraction Executive

"Once we return to a state of normalcy, we want to schedule time to meet our candidates in person. We truly believe that every interview we conduct is an interview for us as well as our candidates, which is an experience we really like to be able to provide in person. We want each and every candidate that is exploring employment opportunities with 3Pillar to experience our offices, our people and most importantly the energy and culture that lives throughout each of our locations." — Cody Winters, Senior Director, Talent Supply Chain, 3Pillar Global

"Once the pandemic is over, TA professionals will return to some of the in person events like conferences and meetups held prior to the pandemic to re-engage with candidates, network, and share ideas. While virtual hiring events, webinars, and virtual meetups will still be frequent, in some cases there is value to connecting with future employees in person." — Cathy Henesey, Executive Director, Talent Acquisition, AdventHealth

How will broader workforce trends impact talent acquisition teams in 2021 and beyond?

Every year, countless factors shape the talent acquisition space, and 2021 will be no different in that respect. As a result of the pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before, and employers are doing more recruiting outside of their local area. And for many companies, they plan for some aspect of these changes to be permanent going forward, which will evolve the talent acquisition landscape going forward. The combination of these two trends suggests competition for top talent will heat up in 2021 and employers will need to focus even more on their recruitment marketing teams and employer growth strategies in order to connect with the right potential candidates.

"Working from home will become more predominant moving forward. Moving towards understanding skills for all roles in the organizations will be paramount to helping to shape a new internal mobility of the future." — Jen Tracy, VP of Recruiting Solutions, Charter Communications

"I think that we'll still have some remote employees, meaning that managers will need to manage remote teams or more likely hybrid teams, where some are remote and some are HQ based. The challenge for TA will be identifying the skillsets or competencies that are conducive to a new workforce. You only need to have been a lonely voice on a conference call (when all other attendees are in the room) to know how isolating and diminishing it can be when you aren't physically in the room.” — Andy Shearer, Director of Talent Acquisition, KEEN Footwear

“Remote employees and staff will be a necessity for each and every company. Companies will need to focus more on hiring remote staff versus in-person.” — Priyanki Amroliwala, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, 42 North Dental

“There is an opportunity and a need to be more judicious with our spend and definitely look forward to travel again but only when it is really necessary (final round interviews, big events with a lot of necessary in person engagement, etc.) Broader workforce trends around work location/remote work, team member engagement, partnerships, and culture—all of this is critical and centered around recruiting and where we are hiring people (and where they may be in the future)." — Jennifer Newbill, Director of University Recruiting, Dell Technologies

"Companies want growth. Competition for talent will only continue to put pressure on pipelines. The employment brand and marketing will be critical going forward in attracting top talent to any organization." — Liza Voticky, Transformational Talent Attraction Executive

Recruiting in 2021: New talent recruitment standards will emerge

As the market evolves, so too must the recruiter. The combination of virtual recruiting trends and changes in the way people actually do their jobs will shape talent acquisition programs in all fields for years to come and every company should take notice. Machine learning in talent recruitment will become more predominant as companies big and small will try to find the best virtual talent acquisition solution on the market. And talent acquisition leaders will continue rising to the challenge, creating increasingly more competitive content and using virtual tools to enhance the candidate experience even further in 2021, paying special attention to events that attract top talent, focus on providing a positive user experience, and build trust. As job seekers and recruiters alike have become more comfortable meeting in virtual spaces, the future of talent acquisition relies on a hybrid recruiting strategy that leverages each tactic in the most appropriate way, leading to better outcomes for hiring teams, for job seekers, and for employer organizations as a whole.

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