Top 5 Recruiting Trends in 2021

by Katharina Gittsovich in — February 2021
2020 was a year full of insecurity, constant change, and new challenges. We’ve uncovered what 2021 is expected to bring.

Recruiters and HR Teams faced enormous challenges in 2020 – everything from complete hiring stops to unexpected surges in demand, remote recruiting, digital onboarding, 100% remote work, and virtual leadership. It was like a roller coaster ride in the dark.

Recruiters will build new skills to align with the business. In fact, the fastest-growing skill for recruiters is personal development — the ability to add new skills.

2021 promises more of the same agility. This year it is particularly important for recruiters to develop new skills, in particular the personal skills needed to react to rapidly changing conditions and shape them for the benefit of their employers.

That is why LinkedIn has selected adaptability as the #1 skill for recruiters for 2021.

Let’s take a look at which topics are most likely to make their mark on recruiting this year.

  1. Employer Branding
  2. Remote Recruiting
  3. Diversity & Inclusion
  4. AI & Recruitment Automation
  5. Gamification of the Recruiting Process

Trend #1: Employer Branding – Why Does It Make Sense to Invest in Employer Branding Now?

Employer branding can thank the corona pandemic for the increased attention. Many companies invested heavily in their employer brands last year. Those who failed to do so paid the price immediately. The willingness of employees to change jobs also increased in 2020.

63 % of talent professionals expect their employer branding budget to increase or stay the same.

The same applies in 2021: make yourself interesting to the best talents, win them over with a unique candidate experience, and develop your successful employer branding strategy in 10 steps.

Candidate centricity, which supports employer branding, has become increasingly important in the last few years. Candidate centricity puts the candidate and their needs in focus. It makes sense for companies to take the first step. After all, who does not like to be courted?!? With active sourcing you will be a decisive step ahead of your rivals.

Current developments mean that winning the war for talents won’t get any easier. An exciting, interesting, and, most importantly, authentic employer brand can make the difference.

Trend #2: Remote Work & Virtual Recruiting Have Come to Stay

By now it must be obvious to everyone: remote work isn’t going anywhere after the crisis. Even the greatest sceptic has to recognize at least some of the advantages by now. It makes sense to spend 2 of 5 workdays (or ¼ to 1/3 of total working hours) working remotely. The benefits are indisputable:

  • Positive, performance, enhancing effects
  • A greater feeling of autonomy
  • Reduced conflicts between work and family (of course after the corona crisis, when home schooling is no longer necessary)
  • More productivity (home office as a privilege)
  • Positive for the employer brand

Social distancing has moved many steps in the recruiting process online. Of course, finding a job ad online is nothing new. The switch to video interviews during the corona crisis has undeniably been accelerated, though.

Video Job Ads

Adding videos with information about the job that eases the decision-making process for the candidate has become a trend. Short videos with the manager, CEO, or other employees give candidates an impression of their potential new workplace that goes far beyond “must, should, can” and “we offer.”

Trend #3: Diversity & Inclusion

A 2015 report* by McKinsey revealed that, among the 366 companies surveyed, the top-performing companies were also the most diverse.

Diversity & inclusion are hot topics in HR circles for a good reason. Diverse, inclusive teams have a lot of advantages. Strategies that can boost diversity and inclusion in the recruiting process include:

  • Attending diversity trainings
  • Making unconscious biases conscious
  • Making the hiring committee as diverse as possible
  • Asking all candidates the exact same questions

The advantages of a diverse workplace:

  • Tolerant and diverse companies attract candidates.
  • Diversity increases innovativeness and competitiveness.
  • Diverse companies are more profitable according to this study from McKinsey & Company.

Trend #4: I and Recruitment Automation

Merriam-Webster defines AI as

“The ability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour”

What Are Some Areas Where You Can Use Automation?

1. Screening CVs

“A recruiter spends on average screening resumes for a single hire.” (

88% of CVs reviewed are not suitable for the position in question. Together with an ATS, an automation tool can scan CVs for matches and thereby save recruiters a lot of time.

2. For regular updates

Email automation can be used to give candidates automatic updates during the process, even if only to let them know you haven’t forgotten them.

3. For analysing interviews

Automation tools can be used with recorded video interviews to measure whether a candidate is a good fit for a job based on verbal patterns, facial expressions, and word use.

All these opportunities to automate make it even more important to retain a personal touch. Recruiting is and remains a people business. Sometimes decisions are made at a gut level, something AI does not have … yet. 😉

Trend #5: Gamification in the Recruiting Process

There is no doubt: no species on this earth plays as much as humans. This does not just apply to children – adults, too, love to play sports, party games, and video games. Why not activate and satisfy this drive to play in a business context?

Gamification is the key. This is a method for bringing game-like elements to new, usually digital contexts. Aesthetic choices from game design along with various principles and mechanisms from games can be used to promote certain motivations and behaviours. This can encourage the target audience to engage and interact with you.

How & Where to Include Gamification

Selection process

  • The candidate should solve various problems in a game-like manner and thereby prove soft skills listed in a CV with creative solutions, time management, or innovative thinking. This way recruiters can tell if the candidate is indeed qualified for the job.

Application process

  • Build in levels of victory reminiscent of games.

Career portal

  • Companies can add playful elements to do things like guide a candidate through the world of the company.

Why Gamification Is Worth It

  • Strengthens your employer brand
  • Presents you as an innovative employer
  • More attention
  • Increases the desire to apply
  • Reduces application abandonment
  • More efficient recruiting
  • Evaluate soft skills beforehand