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Top recruitment trends for 2021

What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were talking about 2020 being the year of the candidate in our 2020 WaveTrackR Annual Report. Employment had reached the joint-highest rate since records began in 2019 and there were skills shortages in many industries, leading to a candidate’s market.

Of course, thanks to a completely unprecedented global pandemic, the market has completely flipped since then. We also talked about 2020 being the year flexible working policies were more commonly adopted, though we had no idea how true that would become in a few short months. From flexible working to the importance of digital skills, to employer branding and diversity in the workplace, 2020 has accelerated trends that may have taken years to shape. We look at the top trends in the world of recruitment for 2021 so that you can be prepared for what’s to come.

Flexible working patterns

We could never have forecast the extent to which remote working would become the norm in 2020. Covid-19 made working from home not just possible but essential for many industries. For those that didn’t need to physically be onsite to work, wfh was mandatory at times and simply sensible at others. It led to many businesses – including those previously averse to remote working – realising that flexible working is entirely possible and incredibly productive. It doesn’t work for everybody and that is where employers and recruiters alike need to be sensitive to individual needs. A hybrid working situation might suit many, whereby the working week is split between home and the office. A further upside to the increase in remote working possibilities for candidates, recruiters and employers is the removal of location from job/candidate searches. Candidates will have far more options, including global opportunities, and recruiters can expand their talent pool. We could also see a rise in digital nomads – a trend to come once travel opens up once more perhaps.

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Internal hiring

Larger businesses will increasingly invest in training and development internally, hiring less but making smarter recruitment decisions and building on that talent more. The shift began in 2020, with LinkedIn finding that internal hiring at UK businesses increased by 20% between April and August compared to the same period the previous year. For recruiters, this means truly understanding what the client wants and foreseeing business needs so that you find the best talent for the business and not just a particular role.

The use of freelancers

With businesses trying to become leaner and save costs, an increasing number will turn to freelancers to cover short term hiring needs – especially now more businesses are open to remote workers. Simultaneously, the freelancer pool has expanded rapidly as those struggling to find permanent positions look to freelance work out of necessity. So as well as flexible work within permanent positions, flexible talent will be looked to on short-term basis.

Psychometric testing

With recruiters and employers unable to meet candidates in person, an influx in applications due to a steadily increasing talent pool, and the likely rise in remote onboarding going forwards, the use of psychometric tests as an effective way to assess talent is set to accelerate this year.

Expanded skillsets

The pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of soft skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, effective communication, and collaboration. Digital skills are also in demand and will become essential over the next decade. Prep your candidates in how to demonstrate these skills and encourage clients to look at a range of skills when it comes to talent rather than just direct experience and qualifications.

Virtual interviews

Not everyone likes a virtual interview but they are helpful in the initial stages and for entry-level jobs as it cuts travel and time. Like hybrid working patterns we may see a mixture of onsite and virtual onboarding depending on the job, the level, the candidate, and client mandates. In a LinkedIn survey, 81% of recruiters agreed that virtual recruiting will continue into a post-Covid future.

Internal talent pools

competition is tougher than ever to secure jobs but recruiters that have a strong internal pool of talent will be at an advantage. Having a pool of top talent that you can draw on for the right opportunities means you can deliver every time. A candidate management system that allows you to build an internal pool is now an essential piece of tech.

Social media hiring

Advertising jobs on social media platforms has been a trend for a while but courting candidates, establishing relationships and engaging via content shared on social media is a trend that was hugely accelerated by the pandemic. With people turning to social media as a way to contact the outside world without actually going outside, it made sense to reach top talent there – ‘meet the people where they are’. With digital expansion having been vastly accelerated over the past year(something that will only increase tenfold in the years to come) this kind of social media hiring strategy is a trend that’s set to continue.

A shift in employer branding strategy

Employer branding has long been important when it comes to attracting top talent but what candidates are looking for has changed somewhat. With the increase in remote working, perks such as a fancy office with free drinks and gym membership just aren’t enough anymore. Instead, job seekers want to know that a company cares – diversity and inclusion policies and mental health initiatives are crucial. LinkedIn predicts that employer branding must now “hinge on empathy and actions” rather than company perks.

The rise of recruitment automation

Utilising tech to save time on tasks that don’t require human interaction just makes sense. Time saved by automation frees up opportunities to do what you do best – engaging with clients and candidates. If, like WaveTrackR, that tech is AI-powered, providing intelligent data to help you find talent more efficiently, so much the better.

Diversity and inclusion is non-negotiable

2020 wasn’t just the year of a global pandemic, it was the year the Black Lives Matter movement made us all think about what we can do to promote a more tolerant and inclusive society. You can help lead the movement to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces by embedding D&I into your recruitment strategy, ensuring unconscious bias is eliminated from your hiring process, nurturing a pipeline of diverse talent, and encouraging clients to recruit more diversely. Not only is this the right thing to do, it makes sound business sense. Countless research has found that diverse workplaces lead to more profitable businesses. Another 2021 trend will help to facilitate this as remote working will allow the expansion of talent pools to reach underrepresented groups.

2020 was an incredibly challenging year and one that no-one could have predicted but it has also taught us a lot about best practice, about getting match-fit to ride out a recession, about the importance of nurturing client and candidate relationships, being more than just a CV-pusher. Many of the trends predicted for 2021 were born out of the global events that shook us all in 2020. Let’s take what we’ve learned and turn adversity into an opportunity as we stride into a year that will bring challenges as well as triumphs.

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