The landscape of recruiting and hiring looks drastically different today than it did just a year ago, with 2020 ushering in, and in many cases, accelerating changes that were beginning to take hold due to the unwelcome arrival of COVID-19. As a result, companies are looking to become leaner, more data-driven, and automated. Digital transformation and the roadmap for the future success of a company is at the forefront of conversations happening across every industry. Leaders are trying to navigate and execute a quick, but seamless adaptation to a more virtual environment, but what exactly will that mean for talent acquisition and executive recruiters in 2021 and beyond?
This a watershed moment for recruiting and hiring both internally and externally, and the companies that will fare best are the ones that able to leverage new digital tools, resources, and technologies to meet the moment and plan for a long-term, sustainable future.
Recruitment Trends in 2021
Digital Transformation & Remote Recruiting
The pandemic catalyzed a rapid shift in the way recruiting and hiring is conducted, requiring companies of all sizes to significantly bolster their technological capabilities and resources in a matter of weeks in an effort to completely revamp day-to-day operations while aiming to maintain productivity. As companies were forced to reevaluate their hiring strategies and best practices, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital platforms have formed the foundation of a new business model. Further, as these new approaches have become standardized and the resulting time and cost efficiencies are generated, one thing is clear—virtual recruiting is here to stay.
According to a survey conducted by Robert Half of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S., three-quarters (75%) of respondents say they conducted remote interviews and onboarding sessions, more than 60% saying that they implemented these practices after COVID-19 had begun.
The rapid modernization of executive recruiter practices and retained executive search firms resulting from recruitment trends of 2021 has not only demonstrated the flexibility of stakeholders at all levels but also created an opportunity for continued growth and success.
Through the implementation of new data structures and reporting, video platforms for virtual interviewing and onboarding, and optimized candidate tracking and management systems, executive recruiters are able to focus on what matters most: the candidate.
Redefining Skills for Remote Work
The introduction of this new approach has signaled a shift for both recruiters and candidates. Companies are now undergoing a reevaluation of what the skills and requirements necessary to perform in a potentially remote or hybrid work environment will look like moving forward, and at the same time using this period to think outside the box.
As the process of fine-tuning virtual hiring, recruiting, and talent acquisition progresses continue and improve, recruiters and candidates alike have drastically altered their understanding of how to be successful in the evolving professional space.
“Remote working has given rise to both positives and negatives for organizations,” says Kristen Fowler, Practice Lead at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search – a leading boutique executive search firm. “For every organization that is thriving in this new work-from-home world, we’re seeing others that are struggling to maintain productivity and business results.”
Specifically, executive recruiters are honing their skills across an array of critical aspects such as working remotely, virtual interviewing and onboarding, diversity and inclusion (D&I), virtual training, and internal mobility. Alongside the call of professional development at the individual level, retained executive search firms are refocusing their efforts as well to empower recruiters as client talent advisors for companies looking to emphasize learning and development for internal stakeholders.
Now, there is a natural hesitation that comes with such a major disruption to a highly interpersonal industry, a skepticism that through optimization executive recruiters will become disconnected from their candidates and clients.
However, the converse is likely the case.
By eliminating or streamlining formerly manual processes, increasing talent and data insights, and improving overall efficiency, this provides recruiters significantly more time to develop and manage relationships. By embracing digital technologies, not only are retained executive search firms capable of enhancing their candidate pools and efficiency to placement, but they are able to deepen the connection with candidates by establishing more availability for those relationships. And ultimately, this increased attention to relationships is what leads to a strong team morale and investment in the company’s vision.
Culture Building in the Digital World
Location-Independence & Talent Acquisition
Beyond the rapid transformation to a virtual and remote workforce from an operational standpoint, another critical subject remains: does our company want to remain in a remote setting? This answer will vary drastically across industries and organizations, but it is becoming clearer that many organizations are embracing the move to at least a hybrid workforce of some sort.
A Cielo survey of over 140 Global HR, talent acquisition, and business leaders across multiple industries found that the majority (82%) of hiring managers will continue interviewing candidates by video, 41% are happy to onboard starters virtually, and 32% are confident making offers without first meeting face to face.
This is a substantial shift and all the more reason for executive recruiters and retained executive search firms to continue forward with the transition to digital tools and virtual platforms. This is especially true considering that as companies become more accessible on their job requirements and location independence plays a larger role, the candidate pool for high-quality jobs will see a massive influx.
Hiring professionals need to be anticipating the shift now to ensure they are prepared for the increased demand, and enabling recruiting and hiring professionals with the proper technology will be the best way to navigate the surge of a job market democratized with less restrictive geographic limitations.
“An interesting trend we’re seeing in hiring because of work-from-home is an increased number of interviews happening with more diverse team members throughout an organization,” says Joseph Puglise, Senior Director of Executive Search and Recruiting at global executive search firm JMJ Phillip Group. “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.”
Internal Mobility & Organizational Development
One of the biggest areas where recruiting and hiring can expect to change in the coming years is actually a focus less on recruiting, and a focus more on the building.
What does this mean?
Similar to what executive recruiters faced at the outset of the pandemic, many organizations are beginning to emphasize less siloed work and more focus on cross-functional project and program development. The aim is to create dynamic, agile workforces that are highly resilient amidst recent volatilities in the job market. This may even inform the hiring qualifications and skills reassessment mentioned earlier, where companies will prioritize candidates with strong transferable skills and adaptability.
This means that recruiting and hiring professionals should continue focusing on being talent advisors, as companies are realizing that comprehensive learning and development (L&D) programs are critical to long-term success. By building strong relationships with HR and talent leaders, executive recruiters and executive search firms may see their roles and partnerships transition to strategic planning, education, and program development focused on preparing and launching initiatives geared towards internal development and mobility.
Beyond developing internal stakeholders, this offers a range of opportunities to introduce cost efficiencies, build morale and alignment, and drive employee retention. With recruiters leading the way to remote work and employee development programs, companies are able to clearly demonstrate their investment to the current workforce through these initiatives.
Furthermore, an investment in employees now is a direct investment in talent acquisition in the future by bolstering your employer brand and reputation. Establishing employee environments defined by satisfaction and loyalty helps create advocates willing to promote your organization going forward, a must-have as the central office environment continues to fade.
Executive recruiters and retained executive search firms will serve as the key to unlocking and understanding the remote workforce in the coming years through program management initiatives, digital transformations, and virtual business models that still find a balance to grow professional relationships. Their expertise and capabilities will be invaluable to building roadmaps that enable productivity over the place, connect technology to talent, and value results as much as relationships.