6 Recruitment Trends You’ll See in 2021 [Recruiter Perspectives]

Matt Glodz
6 Recruitment Trends You’ll See in 2021 [Recruiter Perspectives]

Recruiters Discuss Hiring Trends They Expect Will Shape 2021

Without question, 2020 has left us with many critical changes in the recruiting environment and society at large.

While new vaccines finally bring a glimmer of hope that we’ll be able to return to some level of face-to-face workplace interaction, time-saving recruitment practices are likely to remain post-COVID.

We surveyed recruitment experts to get their perspectives on how 2021 is likely to play out.

Our Panel

Sarah Chang, Founder and CEO at HR Kangaroo

Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group

Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search

Paul French, Founding Director at Intrinsic Search

Ginnette Harvey, Senior Vice President at Real Staffing

Ben Lamarche, General Manager at Lock Search Group

Lauren Torregrossa, Media Relations Manager at CareerPlug

6 Recruitment and Hiring Trends for 2021

1) Remote Hiring

“Virtual interviews are standard practice now, and I expect that to stay,” said Chang.

"Interviewers will use a video platform like Zoom and record the interview and share it (with the candidate's permission, of course) with other hiring managers, decreasing the amount of time spent interviewing.

"This means candidates really have to nail the first interview before they'll get a second interview.”

CareerPlug’s research backs up her view: “61% of businesses made changes to their hiring process during COVID-19 that they plan to keep implementing in 2021.

"Some examples include video interviews, electronic onboarding and training [and] recruiting in new regions for fully remote positions.”

Fowler mentioned that some companies are taking virtual interviews a step further, eliminating human interaction in the initial screening stage altogether.

"We're seeing more video interviews – where there are pre-determined questions, not even a person,” she explained.

I’ve experienced far more frustration from companies about the limitations of remote onboarding than with remote recruiting and hiring.


- Matt Erhard, Managing Partner at Summit Search Group

Fowler also added that companies leverage the ability to meet a broader range of team members virtual interviewing in later stages of the interview process:

“Because you’re not getting the office tour and culture, we’re seeing companies make a bigger effort around getting more people as part of the interview process.

"So, interviewees can expect to meet with direct reports, team members, leadership; generally, a more diverse pool of staff members."

2) Hybrid Recruitment & In-Person Onboarding

As the vaccine starts to get rolled out, we’re much more likely to see a greater shift to a hybrid recruitment model.

“Once the pandemic is over, in-person meetings to engage candidates will return as employers look forward to interacting with prospective employees before making a hiring decision,” predicted French.

According to Career Plug’s research, “39% of businesses do not plan to continue implementing COVID-inspired changes to the hiring process after the pandemic is over.”

Even in the midst of the pandemic, only 18.9% of companies surveyed moved their hiring processes to be 100% remote, and 28.3% continued to conduct in-person interviews, as shown in the chart below.


Image Source: CareerPlug 2021 Hiring Trends Report 

Erhard mentioned that many companies viewed remote onboarding as much more challenging than virtual recruiting and expects these processes to shift.

“I’ve experienced far more frustration from companies about the limitations of remote onboarding than with remote recruiting and hiring,” he said.

“It’s far more difficult to express the company culture remotely and make new hires feel fully integrated into the team.

"With the exception of remote workers who live in a geographically distant area, I anticipate onboarding and training processes will return mostly to ‘normal’ once it’s possible for them to do so.”

3) Increased Competition

It’s needless to say that the hiring market has become significantly more competitive over the past year, and this competition is expected to remain in 2021.

“Competition for talent and mounting pressure in the talent pipeline will see a comeback as businesses spring back and up the ante on hiring especially in technical roles,” said French.

However, it’s important to note that increased competition has a much different impact on high- and low-paying roles salary-wise.

Chang explains that “the dichotomy between the high-paying roles and low-paying roles is becoming more pervasive. The competition for quality candidates is stiffening and salaries for high-level employees remain high.

“However, because hiring managers can hire people for lower-level positions across the country and sometimes even across the globe and are becoming more opening minded to it, it's bringing down the salaries of those positions,” she says.

4) Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion will continue to be a high-priority issue in 2021.

“In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death corporate America promised to take meaningful action to ensure racial equality within their organisation, and 90% of employees globally believe their organisations should engage in meaningful D&I initiatives.” says Harvey.

If companies do intend to diversify their boards, leadership teams and their organisations at large then the traditional approach to recruitment will not work.


- Ginnette Harvey, Senior Vice President, Real Staffing

She predicts that “the approach to selection, interviewing and onboarding will start to look radically different to attract more diverse candidates and to drive genuine inclusion.

"If companies do intend to diversify their boards, leadership teams and their organisations at large then the traditional approach to recruitment will not work.”

In December, Nasdaq also filed a proposal with the SEC that would require “all companies listed on Nasdaq’s U.S. exchange to publicly disclose consistent, transparent diversity statistics regarding their board of directors.

"Additionally, the rules would require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have, or explain why they do not have, at least two diverse directors, including one who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+.”

Harvey explains that “it is highly likely these proposals will become much more common and they will have a dramatic impact on the demographic of corporate boards for a long time to come."

5) AI & Automation in Recruitment

As companies streamlined their HR departments and were faced with record applicant volumes, the use of AI recruitment tools, applicant tracking systems and automation has become increasingly common.

While these tools helped make the recruitment process more efficient for companies, they also highlight the importance for candidates to optimise their CVs for initial scans by applicant tracking systems.

Lamarche noted that while tools to automate logistical processes such as scheduling and emailing candidates were widely available, many hiring departments didn’t use them extensively: “That has started to change during 2020.”

He attributes the increase in use to one “out of necessity in response to increasing application volume. I think we’ll see even more companies taking advantage of these programs moving forward."

Many hiring managers that maintained that they had to hire a geographically local person are having their minds changed.


- Sarah Chang, Founder and CEO, HR Kangaroo

“The AI and chatbot technologies that help to automate the earliest stage of the hiring process are only going to continue to grow and develop in 2021,” Lamarche said.

“They made the huge shifts we saw in the workforce in 2020 possible and will help us to navigate the uncertainty of the coming months.”

6) Location-Independent Work

As much of the work force has started to work remotely, physical location simply isn't as important for many roles that were once office-based.

“Many hiring managers that maintained that they had to hire a geographically local person are having their minds changed,” Chang noted.

This trend has opened up more job opportunities for candidates located outside of major metropolitan areas.

It has resulted in moves away from large cities with high costs of living such as London, whose rental markets have been drastically impacted.

“They've been forced to realise that they don't need to be in-person as often as they thought,” Chang said.

“Even managers that still feel they want a local person are more open to having individuals come into the office a couple times a week once the pandemic is over.

"As a result, we're still seeing candidates from further away who are willing to commute farther since it would be less often.”

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About the AuthorMatt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of CV Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked for global companies, where he noted that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At CV Pilots, Matt combines his solid business and writing background to craft CVs that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He has lived in the UK, US and Italy.

Based in London, he currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing CVs for over 10 years.

He has been quoted on numerous business and career-related topics in outlets including Business Insider, CNBC, Fortune, Glassdoor, The Ladders, The Times and Thrive Global.

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