Talent Trends Shaping 2021

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Talent acquisition teams are well-practiced at adapting to changing demands. In 2020, recruiters quickly shifted the hiring process, and ways of working. What was more surprising was how quickly entire industries and organizations made massive changes to continue to operate through the pandemic. That adaptability and resiliency are driving a strong recovery.

The positive signs in the market are allowing businesses and organizations to review and adjust their priorities and strategic initiatives. Building for the future with talent pipelining will allow organizations to be prepared and ready to scale when demand rises and there is a significant uptick in open roles to fill. Here are some of the current talent acquisition trends that will likely impact the talent industry during the recovery.

Focus on DE&I

One of the most significant, and positive changes to come out of 2020 was companies making diversity, equity, and inclusion a board-level priority. The moral and business case for DE&I is clear; however, getting from current state to desired state is complex and nuanced. HR teams must be deeply involved in creating and sustaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Implications for Talent Acquisition

Organizations will look to HR and especially talent teams to show progress on identified goals to build a better and more diverse workplace.

Additionally, candidates are considering a company’s commitment to DE&I in their decision process. Companies will need to address DE&I as part of their Employer Value Proposition and implement best practices like using inclusive language throughout the candidate experience, training hiring managers about unconscious bias, establish Diversity Councils, ensuring a diverse interview panel, and more.

These priorities will take time and resources. Ultimately, DE&I must be embedded into an organization’s culture. It should be embraced as a journey and not approached as a program with a start and end date.

Remote Work is Here to Stay

The pandemic forced many companies to do something unimaginable: transition to a remote workforce. Seemingly overnight, companies began managing, hiring, and onboarding employees in a 100-percent virtual work environment. Despite, “you’re on mute,” being the catchphrase of 2020 and dogs barking through meetings, working remotely has been largely successful for many job functions. This is leading both employees and companies to weigh the options of remaining offsite, returning to the office, or a hybrid of the two.

Implications for Talent Acquisition

Whether a position is remote or onsite will create an additional dimension for candidates to consider during their job search. Talent teams will need to adjust Employer Value Propositions and candidate communication to support the organization’s chosen position. For those onsite positions, recruiters will need talking points regarding safety precautions.

A fortunate consequence of remote work is an expanded candidate pool. Without geographic limitations, recruiters can caste a larger net to find the best talent. This has the possibility of improving results for hard-to-fill roles and sourcing diverse candidates. That said, it will be important for recruiters to assess a candidate’s ability to effectively work from home.

Finally, in order to set remote employees up for success, it is important that companies evaluate their virtual onboarding programs and constantly enhance the experience.

Competition and Persistent Skills Shortages Pose an Ongoing Challenge

Within certain industries, a significant problem is developing: too many candidates, but too few of the right ones. Highly skilled, niche talent has been either reluctant to move during these times of uncertainty or has been snatched up by massive companies. Small and mid-sized companies are finding it difficult to compete with the companies like Facebook, Amazon and FedEx who spent 2020 hiring in unprecedented numbers.   

Simultaneously, unemployment is still high (close to the level as it was following the Great Recession) causing many people to apply to any opening whether they are qualified or suited for the position.

Implications for Talent Acquisition

Despite high unemployment, it is still a candidate’s market. Competition for highly skilled talent is fierce and companies will need a strong recruitment strategy and expertise to win.

Having more candidates in the pipeline is also putting a strain on insufficient systems. Companies who reduced the size of their recruitment teams are struggling to meet demand.

Certain industries may look to upskilling for hard-to-fill positions. Companies like Amazon have said publicly they were going to upskill 100,000 people in the next few years.

Closing Thoughts

Today’s workforce will be forever changed by the pandemic. While organizations and business groups have a large say in what the “new normal” will look like, it is important to point out that candidates and employees will be the primary influence. To attract quality talent, companies must have their finger on the pulse of the hiring landscape. They should increasingly review the candidate experience, be mindful of the workforce’s priorities and needs, and be prepared to lead with flexibility.

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