The Uniquely Challenging Talent Landscape of 2021

Every year, we survey hundreds of hiring professionals to learn more about how they attract, hire, and retain their teams.  This year, 2021, is a particularly unique year. While 2020 was the year that gave us the COVID-19 pandemic, mandated shutdowns, recessions, hiring freezes, and a dramatic shift to remote work, 2021 can almost be thought of as the aftermath.

Our survey this year sheds light on how organizations are responding to the unique circumstances that talent professionals are facing this year. We surveyed over 400 professionals across a wide range of industries and company sizes, and we compiled the results in our annual Hiring Benchmark Report. Here are some of the biggest highlights from the report:

1. Hiring is more challenging than ever.

One of the biggest changes from 2020 to 2021 is that the talent landscape essentially flipped from an employer-driven market to a candidate-driven market. There are fewer candidates to go around, and with the “Great Resignation” in full swing, organizations are struggling to keep the talent that they have. This has caused the business of hiring to be extra difficult this year. 66% of hiring professionals say that hiring is more challenging this year than in 2020, and 38% say that their organization experienced increased turnover.

2. Applicants are harder to find.

Applicant volume is an added challenged, with organizations having difficulty with simply getting enough people to apply. 56% of hiring professionals say they are getting fewer job applicants than they did last year, and 70% say that applicant volume is a challenge, up 51% from the prior year.

3. Organizations have no plans to slow the pace of hiring.

To add fuel to the fire, organizations are projecting a healthy increase in the number of people they plan to hire next year. On average, respondents expect to increase their hiring volume by 5.1% in the next 12 months, suggesting that the talent shortage is anything but over. The Technology and Staffing/Recruiting industries anticipated the most hiring growth. With more job openings and fewer applicants, we can expect employers to have to work even harder to fill their open roles.

4. Companies plan to invest big in order to achieve hiring goals.

Fortunately, organizations seem willing to invest real dollars into solving some of their greatest hiring challenges. On average, respondents expected HR budgets to increase by 6.9% in the next year, an uncharacteristically high increase YoY. They plan to invest the most in increasing both the quality and quantity of candidates.

5. Remote work is here to stay.

2020 cast remote work into the global spotlight, but the big question was if it was a temporary solution or a long-term trend. According to our data, remote work has some staying power. 71% of respondent organizations changed their remote work policies since COVID-19. Plus, a combined 60% of organizations currently operate either remote or hybrid work models.

6. Hiring professionals are still cautious about AI.

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in just about every industry, and so too in HR and hiring. But how do talent professionals perceive AI, and are they actively planning to use it in the hiring sphere? We asked exactly that, and found that just 13% of hiring professionals intended to incorporate more AI-driven hiring into their processes; 44% were on the fence, and 43% simply say no. It will be interesting to see how this number shifts over time, as more AI-driven tools enter the market or new use-cases surface.

Interested in more? The 2021 Hiring Benchmark Report explores many of the most pressing trends of the day for talent professionals. Get your own copy of the report to see more.