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2021 Recruiting Outlook

February 25, 2021

The recruiting landscape has certainly changed in a big way- from the shift to remote work to the heavy reliance on technology. How will this impact 2021 and beyond? We caught up with Sue Pardus, Partner in KLR Executive Search to hear her thoughts.

Wondering how the shift to remote work will impact businesses in 2021 and beyond? What are employers looking for when recruiting leaders during a pandemic? We explore these questions and more in a recent interview with KLR Executive Search Partner, Sue Pardus. Let’s see what Sue has to share.

How do you think the shift to remote work in 2020 will impact recruiting in 2021 and beyond?

Employers who previously required employees to be in the office five days a week have seen how effective employees can be working remotely full time. That has been eye opening for many executives. I expect that many will continue working remotely for years to come. While the current environment of working remotely nearly 100% is not optimal, it has become a viable option, especially for those with very specific and/or highly sought after skills.

From a recruiting standpoint, the continued shift to remote work will likely create larger candidate pools, because employers will be more willing to hire people from all over—not just those within driving distance to the office. Many employees within commutable distance will seek hybrid work models where they split time working in the office and at home.

Working remotely has become commonplace in today’s job market. Post-pandemic, employers will need to be more open to remote work as it’s now viewed as an essential benefit. If you don’t offer it, your competition will!

During the pandemic, I’ve seen many clients evolve and realize that “wow, this [remote work] can really work!”

What are Companies looking for in leadership during a pandemic?

While companies are still seeking many of the same “qualities” (i.e., leader, visionary, collaborator, role model, etc.) it has become essential for leaders to be very strong communicators. Consistent, clear communication helps reduce the uncertainty that we’re all feeling right now and provides clear expectations for employees. Companies that have done well during this time have leaders that maintain a positive outlook despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Being both transparent and positive has been key.

Everyone is dealing with the pandemic in different ways. We have no idea how people are really feeling. Isolation has adversely impacted both mental and physical health. For this reason, it’s really important for leaders to practice empathy.

Have you found that recruiting has slowed down in recent months due to the pandemic?

Just the opposite! KLR Executive Search has been busier than ever. As a result of the pandemic, we have seen a lot of early retirements at the most senior levels that were not planned. This has created some exciting searches for us.

We also are seeing the need to up tier talent in several areas…

  • Risk Management oriented professionals – to better navigate economic uncertainty. This can be adding a new position to manage risk or bringing in a different executive to help protect an organization more effectively. In addition, the change in administration will likely result in increased regulations, and associated monitoring.
  • Information Technology professionals – to help navigate the continued transition to remote work, drive digital transformation, leverage Artificial Intelligence, and protect the organization from the potential associated risks.
  • Talent Management professionals – to focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This is not just a desire to hire a more diverse employee base, but the need to create much more inclusive environments that promote the development of employees, especially those that are underrepresented/with more diverse backgrounds – at all levels.

From the candidate perspective, during the pandemic many have been hesitant to put their resumes out there because of uncertainty and not having face-to-face interaction to truly get to know other co-workers. Many potential candidates are saying, “it’s not a good time to make a career move”—balancing working from home, helping kids at home, etc. This will change.

How do you think Artificial Intelligence, automation, and other emerging technologies will change recruiting in the future?

Emerging technologies have already impacted recruiting. Everyone’s using LinkedIn. That wasn’t the case 10 years ago. It’s a great tool to research and track down companies and candidates. The system itself can help with very quick candidate matching.

AI has also helped reduce unconscious bias. This has historically adversely impacted candidates with diverse backgrounds. Systems can take names, gender, race, and age out of the picture to reduce bias that often exists in the interview process.

That said, recruiting is a highly personal and consultative activity that cannot be driven by technology alone. Recruiting is a people business. You can’t take the human interaction piece out of the equation.

Onboarding is very different in today’s climate—how does this impact the employee’s transition and success?

Remote onboarding is not optimal. Most prefer interacting with others in person. We have many clients who have done a really good job using video technology to onboard remotely, but it is much more difficult. The key, again, is open and frequent communication. Successful onboarding relies much more on planning and interaction with the manager. Having a trusted “buddy” or assigned partner who can walk the new employee through the organization’s processes, systems, culture, etc. is essential. This requires a lot more proactive work because you can’t just pop into someone’s office!

2020 introduced many challenges to recruiting and onboarding, which will continue into 2021. The shift to remote work is here for the long-term and has created opportunities for businesses to build their talent pool, enhance communications, and become more technologically savvy.

Questions? Contact KLR Executive Search Group, LLC.

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