10 Trends That will Shape Hiring in 2021

10 Trends that will shape hiring in 2021

Think back to this time last year when you did your business and HR planning for 2020. If you had a crystal ball and you knew what the year would bring, would you have done some things differently? No doubt your hiring might have looked different.

Now we’re about to put this unprecedented year behind us and collectively trying to figure out how to plan for the unknown in 2021. There are promising signs now in the form of vaccines, but no clear timetable for a return to normal. And it seems certain that a post-pandemic “normal” will be quite different from the way things used to be.

Few areas of operations have been impacted more than recruiting, hiring and onboarding. Many organizations had to figure out how to handle all of these remotely, virtually overnight, with varying degrees of success.

So what will 2021 look like from a hiring standpoint?

Here are 10 hiring trends we expect to see:

A comeback

This is a tricky one because of the wildly uneven impact of COVID-19 on business. Some companies are busier than ever before, some are on life support and many more are somewhere in between those two extremes. Overall, we expect staffing to increase in the form of both new hires and employees returning from furlough.

Remote hiring

There’s no doubt that interviews via Zoom or MS Teams are not the same as sitting face to face. But for now, that’s what we all have to work with. Employers are getting more comfortable with remote vetting processes, and we expect that to continue even after in-person gathering is allowed again. There are time and cost savings in screening remotely, especially in the early rounds of hiring, and employers who hadn’t realized that before the lockdown certainly do now.


Necessity is the mother of invention, and many companies have found they can conduct business just fine with a remote workforce, even allowing schedule adjustments for employees who suddenly found themselves home-schooling their children. As firms compete for new hires, look for these hybrid arrangements to become standard procedure.

Personality/psychometric testing

Many organizations were already conducting some sort of personality traits testing before the pandemic, of course. But many more have begun to understand that a full personality profile can fill some of the gaps in the remote interview process noted above. Look for an upswing in this kind of testing as a standard practice.

Finding help in house

Promoting from within has always been a hallmark of a good organization, but the year of COVID-19 has accelerated the trend. In some cases this was born of necessity as workers were asked to take on new and different responsibilities simply to keep the lights on; other organizations found it more palatable to promote existing team members instead of rolling the dice on remote hires. Either way, look for more of this in 2021.

Broader skill sets

That trend of asking employees to assume more and different responsibilities than the ones for which they were hired will continue also, with both new and existing staff. Organizations have seen the value in cross-skilling and will look for candidates who can check multiple boxes.


While the pandemic has dominated the year’s headlines, the crusade for social justice has certainly been the runner-up. In a recent survey, the vast majority of organizations named greater diversity as a goal. Companies will need to seek out non-traditional talent pools such as apprenticeship and internship programs to turn this goal into reality.

Changing assessments

The typical quarterly or annual employee review process includes an assessment of soft skills like cooperative behavior in dealing with co-workers. But 2020 has made it very hard to tell who’s playing nicely with others when they’re interacting only in virtual meetings. Look for greater emphasis on creative, out-of-the-box thinking and problem-solving following a year that has required a great deal of both.

Taking care of their own

In many cases, the best hire is the one you don’t have to make. It’s generally much less costly to retain a team member than to replace one. 2021 will see organizations making a renewed effort to see to the well-being of existing employees to help prevent poaching by competitors. This will include the hybrid working arrangements and flexible scheduling mentioned above.

Putting the best foot forward

While 2020 has seen record unemployment levels, some organizations still struggle to fill certain roles, especially in technology. As more companies compete for the same pools of talent, they’ll put more focus on the candidate experience throughout the interview and hiring process. A new hire who had a great experience is much more likely to refer other promising candidates, helping to keep the talent pipeline full.

We don’t have that crystal ball, either, but we’re pretty certain that 2021 will continue to challenge us in ways known and unknown. Organizations that remain flexible and devote resources to keeping their existing teams satisfied with be in the best position to succeed, and that’s good advice in any times.

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