How 2021 re-shaped hiring (and the hiring trends to watch out for in 2022)

2021 has been a monumental year for the recruitment industry. The market has been flipped on its head, candidate expectations have radically changed, tech has advanced and competition for talent has never been so fierce.

We look at how 2021 changed hiring and what to expect in 2022.

The events of 2020 and 2021 have changed the world. And when the world changes, the recruitment market inevitably follows. The industry has been turned on its head not once but twice. In the first few months of the pandemic, businesses across the globe enacted hiring freezes that left recruiters scrambling for work. Then the redundancies came, and with them an influx of applications for the few jobs that were seeking candidates.

As economies began to reopen in 2021, jobs started to increase and then to soar but candidate availability declined. Hiring strategies have therefore changed not just in line with covid restrictions, new technology and a re-evaluation of the way we work, but also as a direct response to the candidate-short market that we now find ourselves in. 

The workplace will never return to its pre-pandemic state. Changes that were beginning to happen prior to 2020 have been accelerated and a new world of work and of recruitment has emerged. This is our rundown of what we predict will be the biggest hiring trends in 2022

More data-driven recruitment

Our relationship with technology has fundamentally changed over the course of the pandemic. Tech became the way we were able to connect with people when we couldn’t physically see them, it helped us to shop, to make appointments, and tech also helped to make processes simpler and more efficient.

In short, technology helped many of us survive the pandemic, both professionally and personally.

Data-driven recruitment helps to ensure the best possible ROI, whilst streamlining processes. Data analytics allows you to track the performances of your job boards so that you can intelligently assess your recruitment strategy and live data can give you recommendations on where and when to post your jobs.

Utilising data in your recruitment strategies and processes can help reach the candidates you need quickly and efficiently, giving recruiters an edge over their competitors.  

Video interviewing retained

The ability to interview remotely via video saved the recruitment industry during the darkest days of the pandemic.

When the ‘stay at home’ mandate was in force and restrictions meant that in-person, on-site interviews were impossible, the use of video conferencing tools enabled the next best thing.

There are of course drawbacks, varying internet speeds interfering with video and sound quality and the difficulty in reading body language being the main ones. However, the ease with which interviews could take place – both with recruiters and with hiring managers – outweighed any negatives. Candidates still working from home could easily slot in an interview, there are no travel requirements (saving both time and money), and recruiters can schedule in far more time with candidates.

As this technology provides an extremely viable alternative to costlier, more time-consuming face to face interviews, it is likely here to stay for 2022 and beyond.      

Inclusive hiring processes

Ensuring a diverse and inclusive hiring process and embedding D&I into your recruitment strategies will remain crucial for recruiters. Not only do an increasing number of candidates look for a visible commitment to D&I from both the recruiter and the employer, diverse hiring has been proven in numerous studies to boost business success.

How can recruiters help to ensure diversity is an essential consideration when hiring?

Teams can undergo unconscious bias training to help them understand their impact on their recruiting processes, including in the wording of job adverts.

Analytical tech tools such as WaveTrackR can help to ensure that job adverts are reaching a diverse talent pool by careful wording and inclusion of the right keywords.

Anonymising CVs before sending them to clients will also help to avoid unconscious bias. Working with clients to ensure diversity is a key consideration at every stage of hiring is vital.

Fostering diverse recruitment can only be achieved if recruiters work closely with clients, agreeing on an inclusive recruitment process and challenging strategies when necessary.     

Job ad copy rises in stature

The importance of optimising your job ad copy cannot be overstated, especially in a candidate-short market. Get your job ad copy wrong and not only will it not appeal to the candidates you’re trying to reach, they won’t even see it.

It needs to be worded and structured in a way that doesn’t exclude diverse candidates and it needs to be picked up by search engine and job board algorithms.

Use standardised job titles so that candidates find the job in a search, pepper the advert with keywords, keep the ad concise (WaveTrackR data has shown that 200-300 words is the optimum length on average), make sure it is inclusive, include salary details, but also ensure that you humanise your job ad copy – never forget that you are writing for people so write a benefit-led, compelling advert that encourages candidates to apply for it.    

A focus on employer branding

When the world was tipped onto its head, many re-evaluated what was important to them.

Mental health was given the recognition it deserved, work/life balance became a more important consideration, and many began to question whether their values aligned with their company’s.

Employer branding took on a whole new role and sense of significance. Employees are now leaving their jobs in search of elements they feel they are not getting from their current employers, such as flexible working, an emphasis on mental health, better benefits, and a firm commitment to D&I.

A strong Employer Value Proposition (EVP) is important, encapsulating what it is like to work at a particular company, establishing a connection with a candidate and explaining exactly what benefits they will get. This will not only improve your candidate attraction, it will enable you to get your messaging right, targeting the candidates you need.  

Decreased importance of location

The pandemic forced us all (where possible) to shift to working remotely and that is a trend that is set to remain for the foreseeable future. Many jobs are now listed as either remote or hybrid.

The reality is that some sort of work flexibility is fast becoming more of an expectation that a perk and that is likely only to strengthen in 2022. The upside for recruiters is that this vastly enlarges the talent pool, which is a huge bonus when candidates are is short supply.

Removing the need to physically be in a certain location can also increase the number of diverse candidates applying.  

Hiring challenges in 2022

The biggest challenges we foresee for recruitment in 2022 are in the continuing skills and labour shortages and adapting to new ways of working.

The high jobs, relatively low candidate landscape that WaveTrackR data recorded as beginning in May 2021 is unlikely to change any time soon.

Talent attraction strategies, therefore, need to be highly targeted. Use the data you have to post your job ads in the right places, at the right times, to ensure they reach the candidates you are targeting. Write them well and with best practices in mind. Ensure the candidate experience is positive the whole way through the process.

Companies are still adapting to a way of working that incorporates a mix of remote/hybrid/office working patterns so what is offered to employees will change but those that have a strong sense of what works for their employees will ultimately be able to retain the talent they already have and attract new talent. Adaptability is key in 2022.      

The dynamic has shifted. Candidates and employees hold the cards again and businesses must constantly consider the needs of their people. Whether ‘The Great Resignation’ is just hot air or not doesn’t change the fact that people are considering their options now that there are many more and it will be the companies that can attract and retain talent that will thrive in 2022. 

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