Recruitment trends 2021 — Three tips to stay ahead of the talent curve

5 min readMar 9, 2021

The way high impact professionals choose to manage and pursue their careers is changing rapidly and fundamentally. It’s hard for companies to keep up with the pace, adjust to the new key position market and stay ahead of the talent curve. In times of uncertainty, as the current pandemic, it becomes even more critical to hire the right people.

Covid-19 has without doubt challenged every aspect of work-life and we have to accept that it will never fully go back to the way it was. For recruiting, the pandemic has definitely had an impact on both strategy and operations. But while many firms announced hiring freezes, the hiring market for business-critical roles actually increased in activity.

The talent landscape has since long been in need of reconstruction and the previous year’s challenges have accelerated a necessary revamp of the traditional hiring process and paved the way for new trends. Research and advisory firm Gartner recently examined some of these trends in detail and how they are fundamentally changing the traditional ways of hiring.

It’s in the nature of HR and recruiting functions to deliver high-quality talent to meet a company’s short- and long-term goals. Unfortunately, finding the right talent seems to be a never-ending headache for people leaders. According to Gartner’s research, over 70% of hiring managers believe new hires lack the skills needed for their current job, only 23% think new hires are prepared with the skills for the future, and as few as 16% believe their workforce has both. Additionally, there is a knowledge gap and uncertainty from business leaders regarding what exact skills are required in future jobs, how to hire for leadership and maintain culture and values in the new remote world.

Moreover, top candidates are no longer drawn to the talent pools routinely visited by the hiring manager and headhunters. They have different backgrounds, role titles, skills, and career ambitions, which make them fly under the headhunter radar.

It’s not only the profile of the best candidates and how to access them that is shifting. Companies have to get used to the increased selectiveness from candidates. The fact that attractive employers have a compelling employment value proposition (EVP) is no news to either HR leaders or hiring managers. But what do you advertise when a majority of your competitors tempt with competitive compensation, free snacks, work-life balance, and an e-bike discount? According to research, show-off EVP offerings are no longer cutting it. Apart from the benefits, expectations on the candidate experience are also increasing. This includes internal features such as flexibility and having an impact on company communication and brand reputation.

Traditional recruitment practices rely on well-tested but outdated methods that don’t take these shifts into account. The urgency for redesigning talent acquisition is real but with technology, progressive strategies, and direct actions, HR leaders and hiring managers have a unique opportunity to leapfrog competitors who are stuck in their traditional rut:

1 Hire for potential not credential — A common way to write a role description is to recycle an old one, add a few new requirements and, if you are looking for a senior hire, increase the desired years of experience. If you are lucky, this will result in a shortlist of candidates well equipped to tackle the issues of yesterday, but less likely to scale your business for the future. Instead, asking questions such as “what does success look like” and “what skills does it take to execute on our business strategy” will lead to a more innovative profile, ready to combat future challenges.

Identifying the exact skills needed for a role that perhaps hasn’t even existed before is obviously challenging. But by moving towards a model that assesses potential and isn’t fixed on previous experience you are opening up to a whole new world of high-quality candidates.

At Exparang every candidate gets to build their profile beyond the CV and industry-specific experience. Data on ambition, motivation, and values are at the very core of the matching process in order to provide clients with high potential candidates, already in the earliest sourcing stage of a search.

2 Welcome to the skills market — When less focus is placed on the CV, industry tenure, and educational pedigree, hiring managers and HR will consequently look outside the traditional talent pools. This is essential since Gartner’s research identifies that skills are no longer exclusively tied to background or credentials. Statistics even show that a whopping 43% of today’s candidates are self-taught in one or more of their role’s requirements, and organizations are building high-value skill capital through on-the-job training. None of which will show up in the traditional headhunter’s CV bank.

By being more inclusive in the search criteria, HR leaders and hiring managers will find themselves exposed to candidates with a transferable skill-set rather than a fixed role experience. Hence much more likely to be ready to accelerate business and tackle the ever so changeable future.

Sourcing the modern skills market via Exparang, where traditional skills are analyzed and complemented by e.g. self-perception, social impact, values, motivations and preferences, will enable hiring for future challenges. The unconventional talent pools also come with additional benefits as they tend to boost diversity and provide much more cost-effective, direct talent access than the usual high-priced recruitment vendors.

3 Impress early — Companies have to understand, adapt to and continuously boost how candidates view them. While conventional recruitment practices demand candidate responsiveness and promoting perks, the talent landscape shift tells a different story. It’s no longer about how much you spend on fancy Holiday parties, candidates care how you make them feel. When the competition for high-skilled talent intensifies as it has done in recent years, it’s essential that companies capture candidate attention, as early as possible. Preferable even before a candidate is on an actual job hunt and becomes visible to other employers.

Exparang’s platform demonstrates the best case scenario where often non-active but attractive candidates are matched with new opportunities and with the candidate’s approval, companies can get in direct contact with them.

A shift towards these strategies will help leverage an authentic employment value proposition that builds trustworthy and deeper relationships and unlocks possibilities for companies to stay ahead of the talent curve.

Hedvig Öster — Talent & Communication at Exparang




Leading platform matching career aspirations with global opportunities. Enabling proactive career management and unbiased candidate sourcing for key positions.