2021: A year of probabilities and new beginnings for Recruitment Agencies



2020 has been pretty challenging for global businesses in almost all aspects. Companies have had to pivot their operations, services, business models to overcome the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also plummeted the global economy into a deep recession and led to mass unemployment, severely impacting the recruitment industry.

The challenges multiplied tenfold in the process of hiring amidst the uncertainty created by the pandemic. A few instances came to light where some companies couldn’t deal with its number of employees in this pandemic and ended up furloughing or firing them. Gradual resurgence could be seen especially in the finance and business sectors. However, despite the positive trajectory, immediate possibilities of recovery in the UK remain less optimistic and more cautious as the uncertainty still lingers on.

To ensure staff safety and well-being, work from home became the new normal within the global business landscape. This was when the outsourcing recruitment partnerships came to the fore as well. This approach made it relatively easy for staffing agencies to flexibly access talent and meet workforce demands.

Even amidst the uncertainty, businesses can’t stay closed forever. The normalcy is expected soon as global companies start operating at optimal levels through pivoted services and operations. As the face of recruitment changed radically over short notice, agencies took (or were required to take) this opportunity and improve their tech stack. They embraced cloud technology and invested their bounced back loans and grants to revert instantly and make the company economically ready for the post-COVID timeline.

To understand the big picture laid out in front of us, we need to understand and get ready to manage the changes ahead of us. Now, as we enter 2021, we hope this year takes the turn for the better. Here’s what we think this year will bring to the recruitment agencies’ tables.

  1. Reskilling rather than finding someone better:

Since the onset of COVID-19 internal mobility has increased by 20% over the year. Companies will move away from static jobs in siloed departments and move towards project-based cross-functional work after facing unprecedented uncertainty and volatility.

Partnering with learning & development (L&D) and broader HR will make internal mobility a must-have. They’ll build a rigorous internal mobility program rather than leaving it to hiring managers or ad hoc practices. With many moving to new projects as hiring slowed, employees and recruiters will be shifted to new projects as business needs change.

The companies might aim to catalogue employees’ current skills and tie internal job opportunities to relevant L&D resources. They’ll prioritise applicants’ potential and transferable skills, such as adaptability and problem-solving, rather than focusing only on their pedigree and technical capacity to do specific tasks.

  1. Businesses will be standing upon diversity: 

Remote work will immensely scale up accessible candidate pools, enabling enhanced access to talent from diverse cultures. Recruiters will be responsible to answer questions around the company’s positioning on diversity. They must push leaders and managers to think broadly about their decisions and coach them to  enable hiring practice around values candidates add to the organisation irrespective of their culture.

Diversity is not merely a feel-good practice, but a business-critical imperative. Recruiters will deliver a diverse pipeline of candidates and rebuild recruitment processes to mitigate prevalent bias, from diverse interview panels to mandating data-driven reporting to meet diversity goals.

  1. Embracing virtual hiring processes: 

The lockdown realities of COVID-19 have pushed businesses to embrace an end-to-end virtual recruiting process for the first time. They bring along both cost and time savings for which we predict virtual hiring is here to stay. A hybrid workforce, consisting of onsite and remote workforce will become the new normal.

On the other hand, a hybrid hiring process that combines virtual and in-person elements will become the norm. And now that virtual recruiting has been a part of the new normal, there is no looking back. Businesses will need to continually optimise their virtual processes and, as they nail the technology, they’ll have to make sure that they continue to look for ways to add human touches back into their systems.

Candidates for entry-level positions will experience a virtual hiring process, not setting foot in the office until they’re onboarded, maybe not even then. On the other hand, executive candidates will continue to receive a more bespoke process with numerous onsite visits and face-to-face one-on-ones.

  1. Remote working finally gains global acceptance:

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at home or office or even what country you’re based in as long as you have the essential talent and are a good cultural-fit. Knowing that recruiters are uniquely positioned to provide essential insights on this transition, give organisations a competitive advantage — when they move swiftly to address them.

The remote jobs result in over 20% geographical diversity amongst applicants. The diversity table is armed with data-driven insights about where talent is and provides anecdotal feedback about talent wants and needs. Remote work lures the companies with its diverse talent pools, increased productivity and retention, and savings on salaries and facilities; add to this a smaller carbon footprint.

Without stepping on the office threshold, a valid workforce can be effectively maintained, operating from widespread offshore locations as far as the talent is recognised. Along with increased homeworking acceptance, recruitment process outsourcing model, in which a recruitment team is set up at an offshore location, serving as an extension of the in-house team, has also garnered enhanced recognition in 2020 and shall continue to do so in 2021.

  1. Organisations that really stood up and stood apart will be remembered:

Company branding always played a significant role in pulling the most qualified candidates. Instead of promoting the company products, perks, and office amenities in polished marketing materials, the recruiting leaders will instead publicise what the company has done (and is doing) to support employees, customers, and communities in times of crisis.

The increasing focus on employer branding will bring it in a radically new light. They’ll remember if their organisation didn’t look after them. A candidate’s perception of a business will be heavily affected by their everyday interactions with recruiters on the ground. To earn trust, employers will have to take necessary actions to show empathy. They will also have to be more vulnerable, holding themselves accountable for shortcomings and being transparent about their plans to address them. Understanding what candidates are going through will shape their employer brand for upcoming years.

  1. Recruiters will look for refashioned/new skills: 

Skills growth can be calculated as the increase in the percentage of recrutiment professionals with relevant skills listed on their social media profiles or inferred based on other info on their SM profiles when they operated as a staffing professional. Adaptability may well be the most critical skill for recruiters over the next year, followed by resilience, oral communication, and creativity.

While some recruiters will hire for different roles, locations, or teams as needs change, many others will be asked to go beyond hiring. The fastest-growing skill for recruiters is personal development — the ability to add new skills. Recruiters will increasingly improve the clarity of talent data, reshape employer branding and fine-tune the virtual hiring process.

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Role of Recruitment Process Outsourcing in 2021 and beyond

When staffing agencies’ resources are scarce, it becomes challenging to have an efficient recruiting function. Choosing the right recruitment process outsourcing service provider in 2021 may well serve to be an upscaling step to your company’s success. As companies continue hiring during the pandemic, their RPO team cut the cost of hiring even less than usual by having a low recruitment cost ratio or RCR. As early 2021 is considered an extension of 2020 where the pandemic is very likely to continue, most staffing agencies who hadn’t taken RPO support in the past are now considering it an efficient, flexible and scalable solution to thrive in the evolving recruitment landscape.

Whether its sourcing niche talent from the IT recruitment landscape or high-volume recruiting and locum booking management within healthcare staffing sector, top RPO companies offered efficient, yet economically budgeted, 360-degree recruitment solutions. It served as a boon for recruitment business leaders worried about coronavirus’s impact on liquidity and capital resources. As the cost of hiring can be significant pain for all companies, especially in current times, taking shelter under the RPO companies assures low cost and efficient hiring.

Several upskilling programmes have been conducted by QX Global Group, to make the teams as productive as possible. The service providers are accelerating their digitalisation and automation and optimising their costs and processes. Cognitive automation solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are helping to ensure business continuity and cost reduction. There is a rising demand from buyers to leverage advanced data analytics and derive better insights into their workforce and recruitment activity.

During these dire times, QX offshore resourcing services from India helped enlist the appropriate candidates by filling the vacancies, limiting the consumption of time and resources and letting the business grow. The top RPO companies in India have come forward to hire both local and global talent to supply to the rising competition in the market and outsource the workforce for stable operations and greater output.

As the world is gradually bouncing back from the pandemic-era stupor, there will be higher pressure on the recruitment agencies. In these trying times, a company’s success lies behind several reasons, but it always begins with a dedicated staff. If an organisation has a poor, rigid employee structure, it is destined to fail. Nobody understands your business better than you, and thus it is your responsibility to take matters into your own hands. Therefore, the companies and agencies worldwide need to seriously rethink their strategies, for they indeed have a busy year in their hands in 2021.

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