Is 2021 going to be a blockbuster year of hiring for you?

Are you playing it safe before committing to a recruiting strategy?

Either way, you can be certain that 2021 will look much different than 2020. The pandemic may not yet be over, but vaccines are getting into bloodstreams and candidates are reassessing their career options. For a hiring manager like you, that means there are several recruiting trends that will shape your year, regardless of your industry.

Remote Work and Hybrid Workplaces

In 2020, remote work was less a trend and more a required way of operation. In 2021, it will continue to be the biggest factor to impact the employment market. Simply put, remote work isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to take time for large numbers of professionals to receive vaccines and develop immunity, and even after that, we will need to practice precautions like social distancing and mask wearing. There is no switch to flip in 2021 that causes everything to suddenly go back to normal, so remote work will continue in some form throughout the year.

However, offices will be reopening in many locations. Most will do so in a hybrid model where some employees continue to work from home while others come into the office. These professionals may rotate depending on the day or the week. For example, Google plans to institute a “flexible workweek” that will see employees come in three days per week starting in September of 2021. Whatever is best for your business will be unique, but for most, it will resemble this type of hybrid model.

Recruiting and Salaries on a National Scale

From the very start of the pandemic, many hiring managers recognized that a remote-work world opens up recruiting pools like never before. Yet, for a lot of 2020, it was just talk. It was a theory. Many companies paused hiring, and many like ATR were lucky just to maintain our current staff and avoid letting anyone go. But as 2021 gets underway, it’s clear that hiring will steadily increase across industries. That means, for the first time in practice, many companies will be recruiting without regard to location.

As a result, salaries will slowly be changing. National averages are going to mean more than they did before. Some candidates from areas with traditionally higher income may expect more than you’re used to. You might be surprised to find bargains on exceptional talent moving to smaller, less expensive towns. Each offer is going to require more research than usual, not just to provide the right level of compensation, but to avoid violating any “ban the box” laws if you’re recruiting in areas that prohibit you from asking about salary history.

Candidates Demand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The events of last year make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) a significant priority for 2021. As a certified minority business, we’ve been talking about these topics for years and believe that our dedication to diversity is our superpower. Candidates of diverse backgrounds, whether that means ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or another factor, have made their voice clear. Professionals stood up for what they wanted out of their society and their employer.

It’s no longer enough for a company to paste a few values or diversity mission statement on their website. Candidates see past that. They want to work for a company that reflects actual society. As hiring continues to pick up, competition for talent will become fierce since your competitors are now across the country. Companies with well-defined DE&I strategies, ones that make a tangible impact, are going to rise to the top of the list for many candidates.

Creating a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy takes time. It may even take most of 2021 as you begin by connecting with your internal employees first, then translating what you discover into your recruiting efforts. As long as you stay authentic and truthful with candidates, even if you’re describing how you’re still laying the groundwork, the results will be positive. After all, Fast Company predicts that 2021 is the year for teams focused on diversity to expand and that, within five years, DE&I will become its own function sitting between HR and operations.

Finding Meaning Through Community

2020’s pandemic served as a wakeup call, forcing people to consider mortality like never before. It was a reminder that our time on earth is finite, and that time should be spent doing something positive. Just as with DE&I, candidates started reflecting more on the values of their employers. What does their community outreach look like? Are there volunteering opportunities? What positive impact does this company make on the world?

In short, professionals are looking for meaning in their work. Companies that provide a sense of connection and purpose are in a great position to recruit throughout the year. Reflect on your own COVID response, determine what positive impact you’ve made in your community or with nonprofits, and consider how you can support everyone even more. You’re likely already making strides here; just make sure your candidates know it.

Flexibility and Career Paths

Even after society finds a post-pandemic normal, your employees will continue to need flexibility throughout 2021 and beyond. Living through COVID-19 will have long-lasting repercussions for mental health. People will need more breaks. Maybe they’ve grown used to flexible working hours, starting work early in the morning so they can get out earlier and help kids with schoolwork. Providing flexibility means more than just remote work, and it will look different for every company. Find out what your employees want, ask candidates what they’re looking for, and recruit accordingly.

At the same time, put renewed attention on career paths and professional growth. 2020 forced everyone to take a step back and reassess their professional life, regardless of if it was going well or poorly prior to the pandemic. In 2021, more than ever before, candidates will come to the table asking about their potential career path at your company and what you will do to help them reach their professional goals.

2021 Recruiting Trends

The above represent just a few 2021 recruiting trends. There are many more, and they’re not all going to be this straightforward. Nevertheless, maintain your positivity to make this a good year. Put in the work. Ask the tough questions of your peers, managers, and employees. Have those conversations, and you’ll set the stage for a great year of recruiting exceptional talent.


Want a hand with your recruiting? We specialize in a number of industries. Reach out to us here to learn more.


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