CandE Recruiting Focus 2021

While candidate experience continues to be impacted by every aspect of recruiting, and is the top recruiting focus for 2021 based on our annual CandE Recruiting Focus survey, diversity and inclusion moved to the second position overtaking employer branding. Over a 100 employers from our CandE community, including large and small employers from across industries, responded to our brief “CandE Recruiting Focus 2021” survey this year. 

A Year Like No Other

2020 was a year like no other. After measuring candidate experience in nothing but a growth market in the nine years since Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards (the CandEs) was founded — then came COVID-19. The global pandemic impacted economies everywhere (and continues to do so), which in turn brought recruiting and hiring to a halt for many companies with millions of people losing their jobs. Combine that with social and racial injustice and inequity, political distress and all kinds of upheaval, it’s no wonder we all longed for 2021. 

However, regardless of what the world looks like, our mission has always focused on helping companies ensure a quality candidate experience, and our CandE community this year responded to candidates and employees alike with a higher level of empathetic communication like never before. There were those employers that also avoided furloughs and layoffs where they could by re-skilling and redeploying employees to other roles (and continue to do so).

Even in a pandemic, employers can’t hide from a negative candidate experience, because those experiencing it are willing to share with their inner circles, people they trust and talk with every day, and online in the form of employer reviews and social media posts.

The Good News

The good news is that those who had a “great” overall experience say they’ll definitely increase their employer relationships – they’ll apply again, refer others and make purchases and/or influence purchases when applicable. These aren’t just the job finalists or those hired; the majority are individuals who research and apply for jobs but who aren’t hired. And these are the candidates willing to share their positive experiences with their inner circles and publicly online. And in 2020, the great experience increased significantly around the world. 

What’s important to keep in mind is that the volume of applicants also increased in 2020 due to millions out of work. This in turn increased the number of candidates that employers reject during the recruiting process, and this can quickly impact the business and the brand, both positively and negatively. This is why the increased level of empathetic communication and transparency from employers was so important in 2020.

2021 Recruiting Focus

So, we again explored the primary recruiting initiatives employers would be focused on in 2021 by surveying employers as part of our benchmark research. These questions included:

  1. In what regions does your organization primarily hire? (North America, EMEA, APAC and/or Latin America)
  2. What primary recruiting initiatives/activities will your talent acquisition team focus on in 2021? (multiple choices)
  3. How will you accomplish these recruiting initiatives/activities in 2021? (multiple  choices)

Most of the companies that responded said they hire in North America, followed by EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), APAC (Asia-Pacific) and Latin America (see Table 1).

Table 1. Where CandE Employers Hire Globally

North America85%
Latin America14%

The top 10 recruiting initiatives/activities global talent acquisition teams will focus on in 2021 include candidate experience, diversity and inclusion, employer branding and more (see Table 2).

Table 2. Expected Primary Recruiting Initiatives/Activities in 2021 Globally (Partial List)

Recruiting FocusOverallNorth AmericaEMEAAPACLatin America
1. Candidate Experience76%77%76%73%85%
2. Diversity and Inclusion69%76%68%82%62%
3. Employer Branding58%61%60%59%31%
4. Screening and Interviewing48%49%52%45%54%
5. Recruitment Marketing47%49%60%64%54%
6. Onboarding42%40%36%36%46%
7. Analytics and Data Management39%39%40%36%38%
8. Social Recruiting38%40%36%36%38%
9. Employee Referrals 38%38%52%50%38%
10. Career Site Development36%34%52%45%38%

Globally, candidate experience, diversity and inclusion and employer branding are the top three recruiting focuses for 2021, underscoring the disruptive changes experienced in 2020. Screening and interviewing and recruitment marketing rounded out the top five for employers worldwide.

Diversity and inclusion will be a higher priority in APAC than anywhere else, and although employer branding will not be a top three priority in Lation America, screening and interviewing and recruitment marketing will get a higher priority. 

How will employers accomplish these recruiting initiatives/ activities in 2021? The answers come down to using a variety of methods, including overwhelmingly improved processes and efficiencies, followed by current staffing, technologies and more (see Table 3).

Table 3. How Global Employers Plan to Accomplish Their 2021 Recruiting Initiatives/Activities

OverallNorth AmericaEMEAAPACLatin America
1. Improved Processes and Efficiencies77%80%86%85%82%
2. Current Staffing66%65%68%60%73%
3. New Technologies56%56%55%55%36%
4. Current technologies42%44%55%55%45%
5. Outsourcing19%17%37%35%45%
6. More Staffing 10%10%9%5%9%
7. New Leadership5%4%5%5%27%

Technology is always important to driving repetitive recruiting processes and practices and new and current technologies are vital to how global employers will activate their 2021 initiatives (along with current staffing). Having to transition most interviewing and onboarding to virtual and then managing remote teams everywhere was no easy task (and will continue to be the norm in 2021). 

EMEA, APAC and Latin America will also utilize recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to accomplish their goals much more than in North America, a common practice around the world.

2021 Technologies and Services

Tables 4 and 5 recap the employer responses from our 2020 benchmark research, which included all 200 global employers. Video job descriptions were again overwhelmingly the primary planned technology investment for 2020,  and job-description optimizations were next, with the exception of Latin America.

Also, text-based recruiting, predictive analytics and interview scheduling will be important for a third of the companies from 2020, except EMEA (see Table 4). Video interviewing and virtual onboarding will continue to pick up for employers in 2021 due to COVID-19.

Table 4. Primary Areas Where Global Companies Plan to Purchase External (Third Party) Technology Solutions to Improve Recruiting in 2021 (Partial List)

North AmericaEMEAAPACLatin America
1. Video Job Descriptions72%90%66%100%
2. Job-Description Optimization58%50%60%0
3. Text-Based Recruiting43%18%31%33%
4. Predictive Analytics30%40%32%20%
5. Candidate Relationship Management (CRM)28%29%22%33%
6. Talent Community/Network27%11%18%0
7. Assessments / Testing22%90%29%20%
8. Video interviewing21%37%25%40%
9. Interview Scheduling21%19%14%0
10. Onboarding21%16%26%0

It’s also important to note how artificial intelligence, smart technologies and machine learning are helping employers improve recruiting and hiring (see Table 5). We’ll continue to see increases in utilizing chatbots, virtual sourcing and more in 2021. Employers that have any hiring volume need to leverage these technologies that help them to improve quality targeting, automate personalized communications, and to help reduce human bias in all recruiting and hiring processes. 

However, improving processes and efficiencies first, before purchasing new technologies or optimizing current tech, must be the priority. Otherwise, employers could just be enhancing bad recruiting practices. In addition, when communication and feedback gaps can be addressed by technology where there was little to no communication previously, particularly in the pre-application, application and early screening/interviewing stages, then the overall candidate perceived fairness and positive ratings can be increased.

Table 5. Primary Areas Where Global Companies Plan to Purchase Artificial Intelligence Technology Solutions to Improve Recruiting in 2021 (Partial List)

North AmericaEMEAAPACLatin America
1. Measuring and Predicting Employee Job Changing Behavior68%14%50%50%
2. Sourcing Existing Candidate Database with a Virtual Assistant66%50%46%57%
3. Sentiment Analysis of Candidate Open-Ended Feedback65%55%55%25%
4. Chatbot Recruiting Automation (Q&A "Customer-Service" on Career Site)62%56%53%38%
5. Sourcing Candidates from External Sources with a Virtual Assistant61%67%58%57%
6. Video Interviewing with Assessments53%50%53%33%

Employers also use other service providers to help them improve different parts of their recruiting process year after year (see Table 6). Campus recruiting services, recruiter and hiring manager training services, and assessment validation and/or development services, with the latter being the most prevalent globally looking out to 2021. Veteran / disability program services and employer branding services are also planned on being used globally.

Table 6. Primary Areas Where Global Companies Plan to Contract with External (3rd party) Service Providers to Enhance Recruiting Efforts in 2021 (Partial List)

North AmericaEMEAAPACLatin America
1. Campus Recruiting Services28%015%0
2. Recruiting / Hiring Manager Training Services26%6%15%20%
3. Assessment Validation and/or Development Services 25%22%29%40%
4. Employee Advocacy and Referral Program Services24%8%25%0
5. Veteran / Disability Program Services23%14%27%25%
6. Employer Branding Services18%20%19%25%

Improving Candidate Experience: A Work In Progress

Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards will continue to focus on recruiting, hiring and the candidate experience. This includes the potential impact on the business and the brand is what companies should be paying attention to year after year. Pre-covid, candidate resentment had continued to trend upward around the world. It completely reversed in 2020, along with again the good news that the willingness of candidates to increase their relationship with an employer increased in 2020.

Improving recruiting and the candidate experience is always a work in progress, and the hardest part is sustaining it over time, whether disrupted by a global pandemic, economic downturns, social and racial unrest, political upheaval, leadership changes, mergers and acquisitions, and whatever else impacts businesses year after year. 

Kudos to the 2020 CandE-winning companies, and here’s to continued success in 2021. The 2020 CandE Benchmark Research Reports will be released soon, and the 2021 CandE Benchmark Research Program opens up in January.

We look forward to your participation! Be safe and well.

Kevin W. Grossman, Talent Board President

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