Five things that will change recruitment in 2021

Julian Smith, Director of Executive Recruitment at memcom highlights some of the trends we can expect to see in the recruitment market this year.

07 Jan 2021

Well, what a year that was. If you and your organisation are still feeling the aftershocks of 2020, you’re far from alone, but as we slide behind our makeshift kitchen-table-desks once more and start the new year with a bang rather than a cough, here are some things to consider if you’re looking to recruit staff this year…


The office-based 9-5 is so 2019

There’s a good chance you’re reading this – as I’ve written this – from home. Home is now my office, and home can be anywhere, as 2020 has proven. And it’s here to stay, so don’t assume that a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 office-based job is as attractive to future talent (or indeed existing staff) as it once was.

Whilst some people simply can’t work from home or don’t like it, others have thrived and don’t want to give that all up even when (if) Covid-19 is finally brought under control. Authorities suggest that we’ll be back to some semblance of normality by April or May, but that still means that for many of us, we will have spent more than 12 months working from home.

As a recruiter, I’ve seen marked differences in the way organisations have changed over the last 10 months, and it’s all led from the top. Where senior teams have found it easy to work from home, they’re more open to a flexible working pattern going forward; where people have struggled to manage their teams remotely, they want to try to bring everybody back into an office environment – but which of the roles in your organisation actually need to be brought back into the office? And ask yourself is it more about the people and/or trust issues, or the role itself?


Recruiting for different skills

As we embrace new ways of working, so we need to realise that some of the skills we traditionally required in our organisations are no longer needed. Rather than re-shape roles around staff, a new year offers an opportunity to look at the skills you might need going forward and bake them into your recruitment plans going forward. Flexible working patterns might mean that you need to employ a more flexible workforce. Remote working means you might now prize qualities of self-management and autonomy more than you previously have done. And his in turn might change the way your teams function.

Of course, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to keep refreshing your job descriptions and person specifications. Look at how technology necessitated the biggest change over the last few years; this is simply a natural evolution of the workforce.


Will it be a buyers’ market?

With so many predicted job losses and redundancies, 2021 must be a buyers’ market, right? Well actually it’s not as simple as that. Good candidates will still be in as much demand as they always have been (and always will be) even when the jobs are thinner on the ground.

Recruitment agencies will continue to court, chase and headhunt good candidates, who will still find they have the pick of the job market, even if they’re not particularly looking for a new role – which might give you headaches where you weren’t expecting them - but in uncertain times, good candidates are less likely to take a risk to move somewhere else, especially if they’ve built up ‘privileges’ such as flexible working in their current organisations.

Remember too that salaries are a huge determining factor in candidates’ decisions – so expect candidates to try to negotiate upwards on salary offers, to negate their risks of switching employers, as well as counter offers from current employers who might try harder than ever to keep their existing talent.

As employers, you might also find that you have to keep a more flexible approach to maintaining good staff this year, in terms of bonuses, benefits or salary matching for counter offers.


Easy come, easy go

Another new trend in recruitment which emerged in 2020 is the need for employers to try harder to sell their organisation to prospective candidates. Remote interviewing means it’s harder for candidates to form an opinion about an organisation or a real bond with the interviewers – and if they haven’t had a chance to visit your office or meet their colleagues, you will need to think of creative ways to bring more people into the conversation.

When I recently recruited a Chief Executive, I designed a process which brought no fewer than 9 different stakeholders into the process, which included both direct and indirect reports. I felt it important – and the Chair agreed that the future CEO should meet with as many of their staff as possible, to ensure that their decision to accept the role was based on knowing as much information as possible.


Remember, if you find it easy to hire someone online, so will someone else…


Shrinking talent pools?

But this leads me to my biggest concern for 2021. Your potential recruitment pool might actually shrink in some areas, due to digital poverty or exclusion. As Jeremy Corbyn said, “What was once a luxury is now an essential utility” when referring to the internet and it’s largely accepted that even relatively affluent areas can have pockets of digital deprivation. With Tier Four restrictions comes the closure of libraries, internet cafes and even the ability to job hunt from a friend’s house, and if we’re not careful, we risk creating a brand-new subdivision between the digital haves and have-nots.

This leads into a whole other blog I’ll be writing, on how to not lose sight of the EDI advances we have made during 2020…


About memcom recruitment

Our recruitment services offer unrivalled sector knowledge and access to a large network of candidates, whether you need an executive appointmentspecialist recruitment or simply ad-hoc support to cover sickness or restructuring. And we recruit for all levels and functions within the sector, including membership, marketing, digital, education, finance, IT, HR and corporate services. Find out more about our recruitment services here.