2021 is here, and with it a whole new era in hiring and recruitment. But what does talent acquisition look like in the midst of a pandemic?

The short answer is digital—very, very digital. Thanks to COVID-19, the traditional hiring process has been harder than ever this year as recruiters and candidates scrambled to adapt to a fully-remote experience. But seismic shifts are well underway—both in the way companies hire and, in the traits, they’re looking for in 2021.

Across almost all industries, digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic, forcing companies of all sizes to fast-track their digital plans. According to a Sage report, 24% of businesses have started using AI for their talent acquisition needs, with 56% of managers planning to adopt automated technology in the next twelve months.

Three-fourths of the U.S. workforce feels less connected than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Smartsheet, with notably higher numbers for Gen-Z (82%) and Millennials (81%). Moreover, since they started working from home, 60% of American workers feel less informed about what’s going on within their company. But, here again, younger workers reflect higher numbers, with 74% of Gen-Zeds and 66% of Millennials, compared to just 53% and 50% of Gen-Xers and Boomers, respectively.

Four predictions for 2021

No doubt about it—recruitment and hiring will continue to change dramatically in the coming year. Here are four ways to adapt to the trends in candidate-driven hiring in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Adopt digital hiring technology for the long term

With remote work as a mainstay option, employers are now casting a global net for remote workers, to sift through this larger talent pool, recruiters must adopt hiring technologies such as automation and AI.

The benefits? Increased hiring quality, time savings and improvement at all stages of pre- and post-hire talent acquisition.

Don’t forget the importance of a personal touch!  Hire a Human Resource Assistant to contact the applicants that made the cut with AI.  With a call, a Zoom prescreening, best of all, companies are learning they can achieve all this without losing the critical human connection that employees still crave.

  1. Rethink the skills required for today’s working reality

COVID-19 has forced companies to reassess core capabilities, culture and what qualities truly make an employee successful in today’s working world.  With these qualities in mind, recruiters can use digital hiring tools like pre-hiring assessments and virtual interviews to gain a better feel for an employee’s job fit.

Successful candidates in 2021 will demonstrate strong communication, ease with technology and a flexible, adaptable approach to their work. Recruiters who screen for these traits will streamline the hiring process and ultimately have a positive impact on employee performance and satisfaction for the long-term.

  1. Go digital, stay personal

Some employers may fear that using AI as part of their screening and hiring process will make their company seem impersonal. But the opposite is true, Automation can offload the repetitive, process-driven tasks to a bot, allowing people to be more available and more high touch.

An effective hiring process should include people at both ends. Far from replacing the recruiter’s role, intelligent automation can supplement that work by filtering through data quickly, transparently and without error.  This frees up recruiters’ time to focus on the most important aspects of hiring, such as making personal connections with candidates.  Attention to people is what keeps morale high and what makes for a more resilient workforce.

  1. Eliminate bias in the hiring process

If there’s anywhere bias should not be present, it’s in the screening and hiring process. AI-driven tools can help eliminate bias through data, objectivity and predictive models, where automation helps create as level a playing field as possible for all applicants. Automation-supported video interviews enable decision-makers to conduct the same video interview, with the same questions, to every candidate.

In 2021, companies should look beyond diversity as a quota to meet and focus more on creating a culture where diversity can THRIVE. AI-driven tools help support those efforts.

Let Cindy Fassler with Cindy Fassler Career Coaching and Executive Search help your company keep the human aspect of recruiting and screening in play. In my career, I have been a strategic talent advisor with a wide variety of hiring teams, coming to the table with an informed point-of-view on talent trends, interview best practices, assessment criteria, and with the experience of hiring in a competitive market.


Email Cindy Fassler to discuss the possibilities.