The 6 Biggest Obstacles Recruiters Will Face in 2021 - and how we can address them

Recruiting is always a challenge:

  • Working through a pile of CVs.
  • Assessing your candidates' experience and skills.
  • Finding the right interview questions to learn about your potential colleagues.

This is only a glimpse of what recruiters face daily.😲😵‍💫

However, in 2021, a recruiter's job will get a little more complicated.

The business world was shaken hard by the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, and it will need time to recover. As mass vaccination continues and the world economy gets back on track, recruiters will play a significant role in rebuilding the workforce.

Like anything, there will be a few obstacles in their way. Some have been long-standing problems for businesses and recruiters alike, while others have been brought about by the impact of COVID-19 globally. 

We have selected six that HR firms online agree is vital we overcome in 2021:

  • Adapting to virtual work
  • Connecting with candidates
  • Assessing candidates online
  • Finding top talent in a remote model
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Long-distance onboarding

In this article, we will review these six challenges. We will also cover why they are important and how companies can benefit from addressing them. 

With that said, let’s dig into it 🤘🏻

1. We need to adapt to remote work if we haven't already.

For many of us, working remotely became a big part of life this past year and will continue to do so in 2021.

Working remotely has clear pros and cons. In many companies, it was already an option, at least a few days a week. 

However, for many others, used to being in offices full time, they have had to adapt fast to the consequences of COVID-19 on the world and change their lives and routines.

And let me be frank with you…  Working remotely is likely here for good

Employees who enjoy working from home full time will surely wish to continue doing so. And companies would be hard-pressed to deny that.

In many cases, operations have continued to run smoothly while employees were at home. As a result, we could see a permanent rise in remote work.

For example, according to a survey in Canada, nearly half of the hiring managers surveyed expect the new measures to stay

For companies, that's not such bad news. Fewer workers in the office mean they pay less for renting office space or electricity bills. This can mean serious cost savings. 

It will also allow companies to support their employees by listening to how and where they feel comfortable working. And as the saying goes, employee well-being leads to company success 👋🏼!

Virtual hiring is a challenge for some recruiters

Recruitment currently makes heavy use of technology. Whether it's the application process, candidates submitting supporting documents, or recruiters organizing their information, the computer is always at the center of it all. 

Now, it may have to be the case for the interview too 👀...

For younger recruiters, this technology-centered lifestyle is something they know. A survey shows that recruiters under 30 already use computer tools for over 75% of a recruitment process before the pandemic. That percentage was lower for older recruiters but rose in 2020 as it was the only option to keep recruiting.

Regardless of age, recruiters usually agree on one element: the in-person interview is critical to assessing a candidate

The virtual interview has filled a COVID-shaped hole, but it's not quite the same experience for recruiters. 

There is a personal element missing; face to face, being together in the same room gives recruiters the chance to find out the candidate's type of person beyond their impressive CV. Evaluating non-verbal language, for example, is more challenging.

2.Creating a connection with candidates 🧑‍🤝‍🧑… without seeing them

Losing that personal touch and feel hurts recruiters and candidates alike.

The connection with a candidate can tell a recruiter if a candidate is suitable or not. For candidates, this connection, too, is crucial. And can often be the main reason behind deciding whether a company is right for them.

So, to bridge that gap and find the connection, it will be up to recruiters to find solutions.

Offer a personal experience through a screen 🖥

Nowadays, most candidates expect a more personal approach. That's pretty straightforward when interviews happen in person and an office. But now that the recruitment process is often happening entirely online, recruiters must find other ways to maintain that personal touch. 

For candidates, personal insight into a company's culture is essential. It's a necessary element of a company, a place where you'll spend most of your weekday, so if it doesn't seem to fit right with your personality and style, it can influence decisions negatively. 

Most candidates will not want to work for a brand that doesn't match their values.

How can we show we are a great place to work at?

Possible solutions include preparing a video of the office or presenting some team members, past projects, or activities. This will help build connections and a sense of belonging with their new workplace. That way, even though the candidate will not experience the office atmosphere in person, you can help make them feel part of the team.

Find new ways to connect with prospects.

Before the pandemic, it was relatively easy to meet with prospects. Job fairs were an option, as were inviting an applicant to the office or for a coffee to discuss job offers ☕️. Now, it's a little more complicated.

So how can you meet people, without ‘meeting’ them?🧐

Recruiters have to be more creative to find the top talent. Thankfully, online platforms like LinkedIn make it easier to search for the right fit and connect with the ideal candidate. It could also be done by hosting webinars about specific topics that are important to the company.

Keep the lines of communication open ☎️

As job markets start to open up globally, candidates will likely send several applications. For top prospects, they may be involved with several hiring processes. To make sure these candidates choose your company as their future workplace, recruiters must stay in touch with them.

Often candidates only hear from their potential new employers twice in the recruitment phase. In the sourcing stage, to tell them that their application has been received. And at the candidate selection stage, with news that they haven't got the job or in brilliant news, their application was great, and they are invited to interview. 

But, what happens in the middle, between sourcing and selection? 

Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, nothing.

But, filling the gap with personal, direct contact to your candidate can be very beneficial. They could also be considering another offer so any personal touch could swing their minds towards your company. 🏌️

Recruiters must update applicants on how the process is evolving with updates on the recruitment process. That way, candidates are more likely to stay engaged. It means more work for HR staff, but it will be worth it. Candidates will also have a better experience.

The key will be for recruiters to get creative and find a way to engage with prospects to keep them interested and motivated. On top of that, they will have to sell a company culture and office atmosphere through a screen. That starts with clear and regular communication 📣!

3. Assessing candidates online: looking for new hints 

Sometimes, finding the ideal candidate can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. There can be so many applications, all with their skills, life experience and unique selling points. 

There's no question about it: finding a rare gem is not easy 💎

As the world has shifted to a more remote way of doing business, communicating with candidates often has to happen virtually, from the application to the contract offer. This requires a new approach.

Evaluating from a distance 🛣️

In some instances, for example, with manual jobs, an actual in-person test might be necessary. Recruiters will need to schedule those and ensure safe working conditions. This may mean adding extra steps and complexity to the recruitment process, but it is very important to do this. 👌

For other jobs, a written test is a mandatory step. It can happen before or after the interview and gives recruiters another way of finding the perfect candidate. However, are online tests still credible?👀

There are concerns that candidates can be dishonest if they do their tests online. Even if recruiters use a videoconference while candidates write tests, there are still plenty of ways to cheat.

This could lead to recruiters putting more emphasis on the interview. But by having the interview through a screen, recruiters are missing many important elements.

Body language, punctuality, or the flow within conversation and answers are just a few elements that might give recruiters an idea of whether or not a candidate meets their criteria. And again, candidates could still find a way to cheat.

Who is truly ready to work remotely?🏝

Now, it is common to be hired and start working remotely full-time right away. As many offices are closed, and companies can have a national or global workforce model, some new hires might wait a long time before meeting their colleagues.

For recruiters, it's essential to find candidates that will be able to work productively from their home. Existing employees know their company, they are likely comfortable and know their job requirements. But for a new hire who must learn everything alone from home, it can be a steep learning curve.⛰️

It's hard for recruiters to know if a candidate will be ready to work remotely on a part- or full-time basis. But until it's safe to return to the office, which could still be months away, it's a skill they will need to develop.

4. Finding top talent 🕵🏻‍♀️

According to many news outlets, we can expect a surge in hiring in 2021. It seems evident as there were massive layoffs in 2020 due to the economic situation. However, during that time, there may have been a shift in employee expectations.

Can we expect an employee benefits revolution?

Finding that perfect employee may just have gotten a little harder for recruiters. Now, the ideal candidate might have a long list of wants and needs. It could include a wish to remain remote working, as employees worldwide have gotten used to working from home.

Employees may also desire more health benefits that promote well-being, like telemedicine or an employee assistance program.

In short, one year of working from home has provided perks that employees will want to keep. It could force companies to look at what their competition is doing and match their offer.

Being open to employees in other locations could be the answer

Another hurdle is their ideal location. According to some recruiters, there was generally a shortage of qualified employees in countries like the US or Canada. In some European countries, similar issues existed in specific locations.

What this means is that the ideal candidate might not be in a company's backyard. 

The solution?

Looking in different areas to find the perfect candidate. In other words, recruiters should consider candidates who work remotely on a full-time basis, even when teams return to the office.

While a team may not have all its members physically in the exact location, it could welcome experts who can contribute to success. 

What are the advantages for employees and companies?

The pooling of different skills, experiences, and personalities can enrich a team's performance. And companies should see their productivity and results improve as they onboard more expert staff.

The answer to top talent might be a more global workforce 🌍

As the workforce becomes more global, recruiters will have to work more remotely. They will have to broaden their search and conduct more virtual interviews.

This is already the case for some companies in Europe, where the European Union makes such arrangements easier. It could also become more common across the world.

Despite those challenges, it's also important to find the right fit, someone who will stay for a long time, embrace the company culture, and grow the business. As onboarding and training a new employee is expensive; it's crucial to ensure a favorable investment.

5. Diversity and inclusion

The question of diversity in the workplace is nothing new. Many companies and governments have long-standing policies to promote diversity. Through hiring more people of ethnic minorities, those with Disabilities or to achieve a gender balance.

So, what is happening today? 

In 2020, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement made headlines globally for much of the year. This brought conversations of systemic racism, inequality, and bias firmly into the public space.

While the BLM movement's focus was on the African-American community in the US, it has opened many minds and voices to the challenges faced throughout the world. There were demonstrations in many countries, with inclusion and end to discrimination towards all minority groups the central message. 

Changing the status quo will be a challenge in 2021

A survey by Arctic Shores, a firm active in removing bias in recruiting, showed that 75% of companies will review their diversity policy in 2021. It adds that over 80% of companies are promoting "unconscious bias" training to their employees.

Support and advocacy groups want to change, just like candidates. The message seems to have been received, and diversity and inclusion will be a key challenge for recruiters in 2021. This year, it will be especially important as hiring is expected to pick up after the dramatic drop in 2020.

XpertHR, a company that offers HR and business data and insights, did a recent survey with over 560 employers that employ close to 1 million workers. Over half of the companies surveyed thought eliminating unconscious bias and hiring a diverse workforce would be difficult.

Creating a diverse work environment can bring in money.

As companies focus on increasing diversity and inclusion, this could lead to financial growth. 

An open and tolerant reputation could improve your brand recognition and see an increased desire to buy your companies products or services, especially amongst a wider range of communities. 

These communities' buying power is significant. Companies who find a way to attract customers from those groups could be looking at significantly boosting their revenue.

Being part of a company that promotes inclusivity can have a major impact on attracting top talent. That means more qualified and productive workers. And for the staff, it means a healthier and more innovative workplace as people from different backgrounds are likely to have different perspectives and think in different ways. That's a clear win-win!

6. Handling onboarding remotely

For many recruiters and HR staff, recruiting doesn't end with submitting a contract offer. Once the candidate is hired, the onboarding begins. That is another challenge in several ways.

Preparing the hardware can be a puzzle and a race against time.

If new hires are working from home full time, there's the added issue of managing their hardware. We have all heard stories of new employees not receiving their computers for weeks after being hired, forcing them to work without some or all of their tools, slowing progress, and downing moods.

But it's not even just about the computer. Nowadays, many companies offer the option to work through a VPN, meaning an employee could use a personal computer to connect. That can ease some of the pressure. 

But what about granting all the accesses? 🙋🏻‍♂️

IT teams will need to install programs and get access to specific functions or drives. That's another puzzle that often drags on until after the candidate has started, which is not the best way to start a new gig!

Getting ready for signing the contract and training 📝

One key part of most recruiters' or HR staff's job is to guide the new hire through the work contract. While it's possible to do it over the phone and by looking at a screen, it's always easier and friendlier in person. Candidates can ask questions and get to know someone at HR.

The same is true for preparing for virtual training. Employees might need tips or materials from recruiters and HR staff to be better prepared. They also typically like to know who they can contact if they have questions or concerns. 

Meeting managers and colleagues in the virtual coffee room

In a physical office, this one is easy. It's a little different in a virtual office, but a meet and greet are vital for all new starts. This can be organized by the manager, the recruiter, or the HR staff, depending on its structure.

Again, it's easier if the recruit has a company computer. But worst comes to worst; the meeting can happen using modern tools like WebEx, Teams, and Zoom.

Something we've all realized in 2020, video conferencing tools will be critical in all workplaces for many years to come

Remote work saved 2020; it will be challenging for recruitment in 2021

With the economy on the rise, companies will begin hiring again. Recruiters will have their work cut out in 2021. Most of the challenges they will face have come through the pandemic and its aftermath. We are nearing the end, but the effects might change the workplace forever.

Most of the issues will be to do with distance and the place of remote and virtual work. Recruiters will need to find ways to remain productive, keep interacting with candidates, and continue engaging with top talent. They will also have to focus on finding candidates that are the right fit for this new work reality.

And even though COVID-19 got most of the attention in 2020, let's not forget diversity. There was significant social unrest for much of the year in the US and elsewhere. It should force companies to review their diversity and inclusion policies. Of course, that will affect recruitment.

Perhaps 2021 will be the year we start seeing companies adopt a model that embraces a global and fluid workforce.

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