12 Recruitment Trends to Prepare for in 2021

It’s that time of year again, time to start thinking about the year ahead. In HR and recruitment, a lot has changed over the past 12 months (and that’s putting it lightly). Recruitment strategies and employee experiences have changed dramatically, and it’s likely that they’ll never go back to how they were before 2020. From working from our homes to a shift in how we look at diversity, 2020 has left no stone unturned.

So, in light of this and to celebrate the end of a challenging year for our industry, we’ve collated 12 recruitment trends you should prepare for in 2021:

Employer branding

If you ask us, employer branding is more of a fundamental part of recruitment than it is a trend. However, it’s clear that 2021 is going to be the year employer branding becomes the most significant part of many companies’ recruitment strategy. We’ve always been advocates for employer branding (which is why it’s one of our core services), but it seems everyone else is waking up to its importance too. Employer Branding is your reputation amongst candidates and employees; it defines how people both inside and outside of your organisation, see you as an employer. After some horror stories from employers in 2020, it’s no surprise that organisations across the globe are seeking to improve their reputations. Building, leveraging and promoting your employer brand will all be high priorities for the coming year in the hopes of it meaning top talent chooses your company over the others.

Remote work

If 2020 was the year that remote work became the norm, 2021 is sure to be the year that candidates expect it. It’s fair to say that with many businesses working from home for a large part of the last year, workers have proven that for many industries business can carry on, as usual, no matter where they are. While there have been hundreds of stories about the death of the office, no workplace will expect to shut down its base entirely as there are some huge advantages of all being able to work together in the same space. However, candidates will expect a level of flexibility in their future workplace, and for many, it could be a deciding factor in whether they accept a job. Not only will remote working help you to attract top talent, but it will also widen the available talent pool as you’re no longer limited to a commutable area. If the possibility of remote work hasn’t been factored into your recruitment strategy for 2021, it’s time to ensure it is.

Company culture

While you could argue that company culture isn’t a trend, it’s a constant aspect of a business; its importance within your recruitment strategy makes it something to look out for in 2021. As we’ve just said, most people have become used to a flexible way of working over the last year as we swapped desks for dining room tables. However, if businesses are ever going to entice people back into the office, you can’t simply go back to how they’re used to working; otherwise, they’ll all choose to work from home. Reuniting your team is vital and so is strengthening those relationships through activities and changing up your office environment. Plus, if the last 12 months have proven anything, it’s that a culture of compassion, honesty and empathy is hugely important to employees. If you were ever going to revamp your company culture now is the time. It could help you to relate to new talent as well as be a breath of fresh air for your existing employees, encouraging retention and referrals while improving your employer brand.

AI and automation

While many businesses are already embracing automation, 2021 will be the year it takes over the recruitment process. Whether it’s for cost-saving measures, improving efficiency or simply improving your employer brand by taking away menial tasks from your team; automating elements of your recruitment process will enhance it in so many ways. Don’t worry, automations and the use of AI in recruitment won’t replace your recruitment team, but instead will help them to do their jobs more efficiently and allow them to focus more on what really matters. You can use algorithms and artificial intelligence to automate the CV screening process, to ensure all candidates are replied to and even to schedule interviews. This frees up your team to focus more on the people they’re hiring and ensures that the candidate experience is much smoother and more effective.


You probably don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been a year of cuts and tight budgets. In the UK alone unemployment rates are rising at a rapid speed. Therefore, when it comes to your talent strategy in 2021, retention should be very high on your list. To reduce recruitment costs and ensure your business can carry on, as usual, a company must try and hold on to its best players. When recovering from a crisis, the last thing you want is for your top talent to move elsewhere.

To focus on retention, you need to listen to your employees and how they feel their experience could improve. It could be that they want better benefits, more flexibility, more opportunities for progression or even changes to your company culture. Let voices be heard and celebrate those that deserve it; your talent strategy will thank you if you can hold on to valuable people over the next year.

Upskilling teams

Upskilling could be part of your retention efforts, or it could even help you to fill a skills gap. It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of a tech talent shortage, so the possibility of upskilling could help your scaling business massively. It’s a way of getting the skills you need to grow without recruitment costs and while keeping your existing team happy and feeling valued. There are countless benefits to upskilling. While it is a longer approach to filling skills gaps, if you’re planning for 2021, it could help you. Obviously, there will be some jobs you need to fill urgently and have to recruit for, but upskilling can save costs and help to improve your all-important reputation as an employer (your employer brand).

Data-driven recruiting

Data-driven recruiting is the term for using tangible facts and statistics to inform your hiring decisions, from selecting candidates to creating talent strategies. Naturally, as there is more data available to us, this is going to be more and more popular; but using data for recruitment does have some real advantages. Data-driven hiring can allow you to monitor recruitment budgets more closely, discover any issues in your recruitment process and even allow you to make objective, evidence-based hires. It can help you to remove bias from hiring decisions and diversify your team as well as find people most suited to your business, rather than just people your hiring managers get on well with. Plus, it speeds up the candidate screening process and could reduce recruitment costs hugely. This is something you should consider adding to your talent strategy for the coming year.

Digital attraction

Social media isn’t going anywhere. In fact we’re using it more than ever. Digital attraction and social media recruiting will be the secret to talent acquisition in 2021 if you want to compete with the big names in your industry. Using social media and online platforms, you can target skilled individuals who may not even realise they want a new job until they see your ad. You can build brand awareness and promote your employer brand as well as advertise particular vacancies. Social media advertising and Google ad campaigns allow you to target individuals with relevant skills, experience and qualifications, meaning that less budget is wasted and you’re talking to the right people instantly.

Building talent pools

Hiring wasn’t a priority for many in 2020, and while tech businesses mostly managed to come out on top, 2021 could still see a lesser focus on recruiting for new positions. Our advice when the pandemic hit was to build a talent pool. A talent pool is a collection of candidates who are passionate about your brand and want to work for you. By using keep warm strategies like email attraction campaigns, you can keep these candidates interested in your business until a role becomes available. In 2021, if hiring still isn’t a realistic prospect, building a talent pool could be. It’s a great way to reduce the cost and time of hiring talented people while ensuring a quality hire that is as enthusiastic as your growing business as you. We build talent pools through a range of tools, including social media recruitment marketing campaigns.

Candidate experience

We’re so much more reliant on technology now, and that means candidates expect a much smoother candidate experience when applying online. Candidates are getting savvier; they know what can be automated and spend so much time online; they’re aware of what makes a good experience. In 2021, there are no excuses for clunky application processes, slow to load careers websites or even not getting back to candidates. If anything, these things will make you look behind the times to top talent and deter them from applying to you. The candidate experience has a direct impact on your employer brand. Prioritise cleaning up and streamlining your candidate experience, personalising elements but also adding a human touch. Just because things can be automated doesn’t always mean they should be. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and run through your existing experience from application through to interview; you’re bound to see how you can improve.

Remote recruiting

We’re sorry to say this but remote recruiting is not going anywhere. The convenience of talking to candidates from a variety of locations over video rather than having to schedule in-person interviews in your office space should not be overlooked. Remote recruiting saves time, frees up resources and allows you to talk to a broader pool of candidates from across the globe. While it’s not always easy to promote your employer brand remotely, the benefits of remote recruiting are clear, and we can expect it to stay as part of the screening process for many even if we return to the office. This will mean we can expect to see in-person job interviews become a later stage in the recruitment process; when both recruiter and candidate are sure the role is a good fit.

Diversity and inclusion

Finally, 2020 saw the most significant cultural shift we’ve seen in recent years, and it’s meant diversity is back at the forefront of recruitment. If you haven’t included a focus on diversity in your talent attraction strategy for 2021, your business risks looking out of touch and behind the times or worse, like it doesn’t care. From ensuring your recruitment process is more inclusive to diversifying your leadership team; many steps can be taken in 2021 to prove that as an employer, you have opportunities for all. Do this, and you’ll reap the rewards as diverse businesses are more productive, creative and have the advantage of a range of opinions and perspectives.

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a year of change for recruitment and its effects will have an impact on hiring managers and candidates for years to come. Hopefully, these 12 trends have helped to give you an idea of what you should be looking for in 2021 and how you can improve your hiring strategies to meet current attitudes.

Talent Works specialise in helping scaling tech businesses and innovative corporations to grow, by surrounding them with talent. If you’d like to have a conversation about your recruitment efforts in 2021, our experts would be happy to discuss it with you. Contact us to get started.