9 Talent Acquisition Predictions for 2021

The talent acquisition landscape has changed a lot this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes that were expected to take years to happen. Today, many workplaces have moved to remote-first models and virtual recruitment has become the new normal for many.

Not only that, but 2020 saw major steps forward in the movement for increased racial justice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is finally being treated with the urgency and accountability it always deserved.

As we draw towards the end of what can only be described as the most unpredictable year in recent memory, we’ve decided to look forward to 2021 and think about what the world of recruitment has in store for us in the coming months. Here are what the experts on the  ML6 team predict is on the radar for our industry next year:

Corey McLeod: Employers will seek out more diverse and geographically dispersed talent pools

I think in 2021 we’re going to see more companies aiming to increase the scope and reach of their candidate pools.

In 2020, as a result of the pandemic, we started to see more willingness to engage remote talent. And on top of that, since diversity has received an increased focus this year, we’re also seeing companies looking to expand their talent pools. I think this diversified and distributed approach to talent sourcing will only increase in 2021.

In addition, I think we’ll  also see a lot more momentum around employee wellbeing, work-life balance, and culture perks. Today, companies have to strategically focus on these areas in order to differentiate and improve their recruiting go-to-market strategy.

Samantha Forani: New roles will be created and internal mobility will take center stage

I believe that in 2021 we’ll see more “newly created” roles within companies due to changing working conditions, environments, and processes. We’ll also see more contract and project-based roles  due to increasing changes within many organizations.

With continued uncertainty and market disruption, companies will need to remain agile. This means moving away from siloed departments and strict job descriptions to more cross-functional, project-based work. Employee resources will need to be reallocated to shift to new projects as business needs change. This means employers will have to invest in more cross-training and upskilling in order to retain their talent.

Samantha Conacher: We’ll see a strong economic rebound from the tech sector 

Going into 2021, there’s going to be a high demand for skilled workers in the areas of IoT, analytics, cloud technology, virtual reality, augmented reality, 5G mobile technology, 3D printing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Data science is also an area of explosive growth over the past five years and will continue to grow for years to come. Data is the new gold and companies need people who can turn it into profit!

We’re also going to see a continued focus on the digital transformation of workplaces, which will require hiring new types of talent for many organizations. In particular, the highest growth of IT and tech hiring in Canada will continue to occur in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. 

When it comes to the economic rebound, we’re going to see continued growth in industries such as healthcare, public administration, education, and manufacturing; however, we’ll see a slower rebound for entertainment and hospitality industries.

Christian Shewchuk: Candidates will choose employers that can showcase a stable work environment and good future prospects

I’ve noticed that candidates today are asking more and more questions about the stability of a company. For example, they’ll ask whether the company has experienced any layoffs or if they’ve continued a normal flow of work since the COVID-19 outbreak. They also ask if the company has seen any growth in the last year and what things might look like moving forward.

This has been particularly noticeable in the manufacturing sector, as candidates want to ensure that the company is innovating and preparing for the future.

Brandon Murray: Tech talent will be in higher demand than ever

I predict that there will be an even greater need for technical talent in 2021. As the world increasingly goes virtual, the need for developers and engineers to build out systems and applications that keep us connected will be greater than ever. 

Angela Dravis: More companies will finally focus on succession planning

As we continue to see more Baby Boomers transition into retirement, we’re going to  see a new, diverse generation of leaders emerge. 2020 saw a lot of companies fail miserably and others come out stronger than ever. This has really made people reflect on their organization’s leadership and who they want at the helm for their company. 

I predict we’ll see a shift in the mindset of what an executive “looks like.” Instead of focusing on years of experience or who’s the best at inter-office politics, there’s going to be more emphasis placed on someone’s potential and vision. I think we’re going to see a lot of young, fresh talent step up into leadership roles and advance their careers much more quickly than before.

However, this means that companies need to start thinking more critically about succession planning and developing effective strategies related to knowledge transfer, innovate hiring practices, and how to transition employees into new roles while supporting senior executives through their new life stage as well.

It’s a really exciting time! Change in workplace culture and diversity are imminent and we are seeing an acceleration of these factors, forcing organizations to scrap antiquated practices and (finally!) step into the 21st century. 

Lauren Wildfang: Employee wellbeing and DEI will be a top priority

In 2021 employers will need to focus heavily on employee wellbeing by creating new programs and increasing benefits to help employees with their mental health, physical wellness, child care. In addition, the most attractive employers will continue to offer flexible work arrangements and some types of remote work options even post-pandemic. These are going to be major factors for candidates when weighing their options for new career opportunities.

Beyond personal wellbeing, candidates will also look for companies that have increased their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Candidates are actively seeking out companies that demonstrate activism within the workplace and community.

Jeff: The war on talent will heat up hotter than before

While many leaders were quick to predict an employers market, I think we’re still experiencing a candidate market, and the war for talent will really heat up as physical location becomes less and less of a factor. With more organizations now offering remote positions, candidates now have the opportunity to explore companies outside their geographic location. This expands every company’s list of competitors and shifts the market into a more favourable position for candidates. 

I also think total rewards will be redefined. This is because the things that candidates value most will continue to change as a result of the new world of work. Companies are no longer able to rely on their state-of-the-art office, five-star chef, or free shuttle services. Instead, they will need to offer purposeful work and a meaningful mission.

Michael: Companies will need to flex their strategic HR muscles

I predict that strategic HR talent is going to be in higher demand than ever before. As companies navigate the changing talent landscape — including moving to more flexible, work-from-home models — organizations need to align their corporate models to accommodate this demand.

Building and maintaining a remote company culture is going to be really important. I don’t think this topic has yet received the true attention and investment it deserves. Since remote-based employees don’t have the same opportunities to build rapport with colleagues, other factors will become more primary factors when it comes to a candidate’s employment options (like the scope of work and total rewards package.

And there you have it! Thanks for reading our TA predictions for 2021. We hope these insights have given you some ideas on where to focus your TA and HR efforts this upcoming year. And, as always, if you need extra support attracting and retaining talent please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

About ML6

ML6 is a recruitment and talent advisory firm located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We provide customized solutions to support our clients throughout the employee lifecycle. We help our clients attract and retain talent by advising on people programs, processes, and best practices.