The Talent Scout Episode 37: Recruitment trends to watch out for in 2021
5 minutes | Posted 10 November, 2020

I think it is safe to say when we all looked to 2020 from 2019 none of us expected any of what’s come to pass.

I know one of the first podcast episodes we recorded as part of this series was an anticipation of the recruitment trends in 2020; I truly shudder at the prospect of listening back to that episode. But unfortunately, planning for the future is a significant part of the recruitment process, otherwise, you end up in a scenario where you’re attempting to grow as an organization and that growth is hindered by a lack of available talent. That planning goes hand in hand with anticipating recruitment trends for the following year and so based on a combination of the Candidate Survey we’ve carried out, several articles from HR leaders, and my own experience I have done some of the hard work for you and pulled together a list of my expected trends when it comes to recruitment and the overall recruitment industry in 2021.

Hopefully this time, no looming global event completely throws these predictions for 2021 out the window.

What to look out for

Given the way current reports are talking about the pandemic, the vaccine, and the economy I think it is safe to say, and hopefully I haven’t just jinxed it, that we will all be doing a lot of very rapid recruitment next year. More specifically when looking to the year ahead the areas of recruitment that are likely going to get the most attention going forward are Employer Branding, Diversity, Recruitment Technology and AI, Remote Workforces, the Interview Process, and Recruitment Spend.

I’ll touch on each of these in turn but the key message to take away is that the recruitment industry is most likely about to have to scale up very quickly in order to recruit a very changed candidate marketplace into available roles. This may be harder than it was in the past as top talent is now burned out, wary of large faceless corporations, and eager to build themselves security through increased salaries, better benefits, and flexible working options including working from home. To contend with this your recruiters are going to need to be empowered with competitive options but they themselves are also going to need to be shrewd negotiators.

Employer Branding

Looking at more specific trends, the first one that I mentioned was Employer Branding. I’m almost certain I mentioned this in my last predictions podcast and likely I’ll mention it again a year from now. Employer Branding is going nowhere.

However, what makes it a trend next year is likely different from what many are expecting. Employee Branding is all about positioning yourself so that you appeal to the best people for your organization rather than appealing to everyone.

While I don’t expect this will change next year I do suspect that many organizations will soon be developing robust Employer Branding strategies in order to do some damage control over the reputation that they gained during the COVID pandemic. Many organizations acted in a manner that was certainly guided by a need for self-preservation but one that came at the expense of their workforce. Long time staff unceremoniously lost their jobs, employees were forbidden from working remotely, and overworked staff were left burned out or broken beneath insurmountable workloads. If it hasn’t already, this information is going to start appearing online on review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, or worse still in articles and news stories. It won’t be forgotten and it will impact future recruitment efforts. An Employer Branding project won’t fix the issues but as many shrewd HR leaders have already figured out, it can be used to start the healing within your workforce and mitigate some of the damage that’s been inflicted on your reputation.

The importance of diversity

Moving on from this, Diversity is definitely going to maintain its position as a key priority for recruiters going forward. Many organizations were painfully caught out when the protests in America for racial justice highlighted just how many individuals in leadership in their organizations were a uniform combination of White, Male, Cis-Gendered, and Heterosexual. It may not necessarily be for the right reasons, but very few organizations want to be seen as maintaining that status quo and so a continued focus on increasing the diversity of recruitment pipelines is going to be paramount.

How this factors into your recruitment process is going to vary depending on who you are and where you are based, but going forward diversity and showcasing your diversity is going to become increasingly important to millennials and younger generations when it comes to looking for their next opportunity.

Recruitment Technology and AI

Once again, something that I’m sure I mentioned before and will likely mention in predictions again, is Recruitment Technology and AI. Likely this is going to be a trend for nearly every year going forward. I don’t suspect that in 2021 we’re suddenly going to have AI carrying out interviews. But I do see that, for many of us who did carry out some level of recruitment this year, our screening processes got extremely tested with the sheer volume of applications we were all receiving.

I think the lesson has been learned that a strong screening process is the only way to keep a talent pipeline flowing and the best screening processes are empowered by technology. We’re definitely going to see a focus on Applicant Tracking Systems and Chat Bots that are designed to keep candidates engaged in the recruitment process while quickly and efficiently screening them.

The candidates

In terms of workforces themselves, something that we discovered within our candidate survey is that more than half of candidates expect their salary to increase within the next 12 months. If the economy makes significant gains within 2021 you can expect this group to increase. This means the days of finding top talent at a bargain are gone, if they ever truly existed.

Equally when we look at expectations of candidates going forward more and more are going to be accustomed to the flexibility that the pandemic offered them. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people are eager to get back into the office, but there are certainly more people than ever before who will be expecting to work from home for a portion of or all of the week. I predict a shift of workforces in 2021 to remote locations in order to accommodate this expectation.

The interview process

In a similar vein, I do expect the interview process to undergo some scrutiny in 2021 and transform as a result. The more obvious transformation is that I can see a trend of moving initial and potentially all interviews to be virtual and carried out over zoom.

A more subtle transformation to interviews that I suspect we’ll see is the shift in questions that candidates have. As I alluded to earlier many candidates were burned by employers in the past year, they’ll be seeking to not go through a similar experience again and may come equipped with a lot more questions and assertiveness than they did in the past. I suspect in 2021 we’ll see a trend of interviews moving away from being as one-sided as they were in the past.

Recruitment Spend

A final trend I suspect to see in 2021 is one that will be reflected across the board and that’s recruitment spend. However willing organizations were to spend huge budgets on advertising in the past that’s going to be much more controlled now. I predict as a result candidate attraction strategies are going to become more refined and cost-effective while headhunting approaches are going to be leaned on more and more in order to reduce overall recruitment costs while still yielding excellent results.

Overall, I think next year is going to be a really exciting one for the world of recruitment. The mission is going to be scale operations back up in time with a restarting economy and in order to do that all of us are going to need to find talented people. The challenge is going to be trying to convince an exhausted and defeated workforce that you are the right next step for them.

It’s not going to be an easy challenge to overcome but as always if you need any help with your recruitment process from candidate attraction right up to training and development, please do reach out. We’re always happy to help.

If you’d like to see how Scout Talent can help you to achieve the recruitment success that you want, please feel free to reach out to us via email at or by phone at 1 866 474 3140