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Look to the lessons of 2020 for what 2021 will hold for recruitment

Posted on 10/12/2020
by Nick Boulton

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Little could have prepared you for 2020. Thankfully, I don’t think this will be the case as we look towards 2021.

It might seem strange to be making predictions about 2021 when it’s been such a turbulent year. Many things are still far from certain – no one foresaw the cataclysmic events of this year, but one thing is clear: technology has been affected just as much as every other part of our lives.

Today’s most important technology trends will play a big part in helping us cope with and adapt to the many challenges facing us. From the shift to working from home to new rules about how we meet and interact in public spaces, tech trends will be the driving force in managing this change.

In a weird way, I think Covid-19 will act as a catalyst for a whole host of changes that were already on their way, mainly driven by our ever-increasing online and digital lives. Recruiting today looks radically different than it did just a year ago, accelerated by Covid-19 and the movement for racial justice. Changes that were expected to take years are happening instantly.

Recruitment has always been about relationships, but the emphasis on which relationships you should prioritise has shifted in 2020. ‘Client’ will be everyone’s main focus.

In 2020 candidate acquisition was still the top priority as was the case in 2019 and 2018. This was largely but not exclusively driven by the talent shortage and a bit by inefficient development teams. What working from home has created is vastly more efficient development teams. Gone are all techies pet hates: red tape, bureaucracy, salespeople, normal office hours and conformity – they are now freed from the usual “office” burdens and the result is technology team’s productivity has soared.

I think there will be some major fundamental changes that business will have to adopt in 2021 to stay ahead:

  • Onboarding, retaining and integrating remote workers will need immediate attention to avoid rising rates of attrition.
  • Long overdue, businesses will now be more focused on internal mobility and upskilling staff.
  • Diversity and inclusion will finally be treated with the urgency and accountability it has always deserved.

With all of these positive changes to look forward to, what would I like to see happen to make 2021 a year to be excited about again?

  1. Certainty – This year has been fraught with uncertainty, indecision and worry. Countries, businesses and people thrive on certainty and direction. Clarity on BREXIT, vaccinations and a plan to guide our country and economy back onto the road to recovery would be a great start.
  2. Improved Relationships – Closer, more open relationships with clients, actually forming partnerships. Unless your chosen recruitment agency is not only seen but also treated as an extension of your business, this will never change.
  3. D&I along with staff development and retention – I see a huge change coming, for years these topics have been seen as separate issues. This is why we have seen little impact despite businesses literally throwing money at the problem. They are intrinsically linked and you can’t have one without the other if you are serious about making a real change.
  4. Optimising remote working – This is going to be key to businesses being successful moving forwards. How you manage a largely remote workforce without losing productivity will be key.

2021 has potential, how much only time will tell, but I think it’s going to be an exciting year.


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