Ask a recruiter: 3 trends shaping recruitment in 2021


New recruitment pipelines, the reign of virtual interviews and a worrying trend – HRM asks recruiters to tell us their predictions and concerns for the year.

According to new data from Robert Half, at least a third of Australian organisations intend to expand their workforce in the first half of 2021. This is, of course, great news for recruiters. 

Like most industries, the recruitment industry was turned upside down last year and while some industries have bounced back, many recruiters are still impacted by the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and the recession. 

As 2021 kicks into gear, HRM asked three experts to share their predictions for what the recruitment landscape could look like this year.

1. Recruiters need to tap into new candidate pipelines

In April 2020, job advertisements on employment website SEEK took a nosedive. Similarly, the job board Indeed saw its April postings drop by 50 per cent compared to its 2019 figures. 

Although job ad volumes have begun to recover, some recruiters have told HRM that job posting costs on these platforms have increased as some sites try to recover lost profits from 2020. This not only squeezes budgets, it adds extra friction points within the organisation as employees have to seek senior approval to utilise these more expensive platforms.

Ineke McMahon, director at P2P Learning & Development Academy, says recruiters should use this opportunity to diversify their talent pipelines.

“I think [recruiters] are going to need to get more resourceful,” she says. Recruiters will need to learn to utilise their candidate pools and contacts and not put all their eggs into one basket with job board postings.

“Talent pooling and having a good pipeline of candidates that you can pull from is going to be more important than ever now.”

McMahon believes LinkedIn will become an even bigger resource for recruiters and suggests they work on their research skills to find the right candidates without trawling through hundreds of users.

“If you type in ‘finance manager in the construction space’ you might get 2763 resumes to go through, which is just not feasible in terms of timeframe. But if you understand how to do Boolean searches, for example, you can get the top candidates, really, really easily.”

Boolean searches allow you to narrow down a search to find specific skills or experience you’re looking for in candidates. In most cases this involves including the terms ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ into search functions. For example, if you’re looking for certain skills in an HR professional, you might search ‘payroll AND management’. 

It can take some time to become familiar with how this process works best, but McMahon believes it can really speed up the process once you get the hang of it.

2. Virtual practices will be elevated

Vanessa Fajnkind, CEO of Brook Recruitment, is based in Melbourne, but after making her company’s recruitment processes virtual in 2020, she can now place candidates in other states with the help of video conferencing.

“Traditionally, we would have been doing face-to-face interviews with every single person. But our clients have really become accustomed to us doing Zoom interviews. That process has really given us much more flexibility,” says Fajnkind.

Fajnkind believes it’s unlikely the use of video interviews will slow down anytime soon.

McMahon says her clients have also become comfortable with virtual interviews and some have even turned to automated video interviews (AVI) to speed up the process. 

AVI’s remove the need for an interviewer, instead a question pops up on the screen and then films the candidate responding.

One platform McMahon uses allows the recruiter to share the footage with the employer and they can both judge the candidate’s answers. These can take the place of phone screenings or organising several interviews.

“In one assignment we video screened 20 candidates. I think we saved about 4 hours of time,” says McMahon.

“It also made rejecting candidates a lot easier, as we could give specific examples of how they answered the questions versus the shortlisted candidates.”

McMahon says it can also help identify candidates who have the right digital communication skills.

“If you’re not prepared to get on video and talk for two minutes about something, then you’re probably not going to function well in a remote work environment.”

3. Ageism could be on the rise

Diversity Australia CEO, Steven Asnicar, says he’s noticed a worrying trend impacting older candidates.

He says some employers think candidates over 40 are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, so are using this as an excuse not to hire them.

“What we are seeing is that people who are really qualified in that 40+ age bracket can’t even get a response from recruiters, let alone a response from employers who are putting job ads up.”

Asnicar says by disregarding older workers, organisations are missing out on a lot of knowledge and experience. He also warns that with an aging population, ignoring candidates due to their age is going to severely limit candidate pools.

The recently launched JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme (the claim period opens on the 1 February 2021) which offers employers a financial incentive to employ those aged 16-35 up until 6 October 2021 is only likely to make this worse.

But as the gatekeepers to employment, recruiters have the potential to change that thinking, even if it means reminding clients about their legal responsibilities.

“Recruiters are there to remind clients there are equal opportunity laws in play and with the current legislation it’s not only the recruiters that will be charged [for breaking the law], the client will be charged also,” says Asnicar.

“We have a lot of older talent returning from overseas at the moment but we’ve got to be more open minded in the recruitment cycle to take advantage of it.”


Computers haven’t completely replaced interviews just yet. If you’re looking to improve your interviewing skills then sign up to AHRI’s short course, Effective Interviewing And Selection Skills.


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5 Comments
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Shayne Hyman
Shayne Hyman
10 months ago

Speaking with a recruiter for a government agency recently I was reminded of the unwritten “no-one over 40 rule” and I thought “REALLY???” But it’s a thing, I know and you know it – time to get some quotas on the agenda because relying on affected individuals to report is fraught! Let’s look at the demography of Australia and do something about diversity!

Luke Turner
Luke Turner
10 months ago

Automated Video Interviews are lazy and a poor employer branding exercise in my opinion.

The comment “If you’re not prepared to get on video and talk for two minutes about something, then you’re probably not going to function well in a remote work environment.” is very superficial & doesn’t go to the importance of non-verbal communication & the importance of building rapport with the candidate.

Pick up the phone and talk to the candidate.

Dave Abbot
Dave Abbot
10 months ago

Agreed that a face to face interview is part of a complete and honest recruitment process! Have heard of some seek costings from companies not using their databases and communication correctly seek to get rich.

Kyle
Kyle
9 months ago

Couldn’t agree more Luke, automated video interviews build no rapport. I am however not against zoom interviews. Usually if there is a substantial distance between interviewee and company. However physical interviews for shortlisted staff is always best.

hiresmart
hiresmart
5 months ago

Thanks for sharing this article. Hiring trends that were relevant six months earlier have are not applicable. Recruitment is now more focused on social media and AI.

More on HRM

Ask a recruiter: 3 trends shaping recruitment in 2021


New recruitment pipelines, the reign of virtual interviews and a worrying trend – HRM asks recruiters to tell us their predictions and concerns for the year.

According to new data from Robert Half, at least a third of Australian organisations intend to expand their workforce in the first half of 2021. This is, of course, great news for recruiters. 

Like most industries, the recruitment industry was turned upside down last year and while some industries have bounced back, many recruiters are still impacted by the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and the recession. 

As 2021 kicks into gear, HRM asked three experts to share their predictions for what the recruitment landscape could look like this year.

1. Recruiters need to tap into new candidate pipelines

In April 2020, job advertisements on employment website SEEK took a nosedive. Similarly, the job board Indeed saw its April postings drop by 50 per cent compared to its 2019 figures. 

Although job ad volumes have begun to recover, some recruiters have told HRM that job posting costs on these platforms have increased as some sites try to recover lost profits from 2020. This not only squeezes budgets, it adds extra friction points within the organisation as employees have to seek senior approval to utilise these more expensive platforms.

Ineke McMahon, director at P2P Learning & Development Academy, says recruiters should use this opportunity to diversify their talent pipelines.

“I think [recruiters] are going to need to get more resourceful,” she says. Recruiters will need to learn to utilise their candidate pools and contacts and not put all their eggs into one basket with job board postings.

“Talent pooling and having a good pipeline of candidates that you can pull from is going to be more important than ever now.”

McMahon believes LinkedIn will become an even bigger resource for recruiters and suggests they work on their research skills to find the right candidates without trawling through hundreds of users.

“If you type in ‘finance manager in the construction space’ you might get 2763 resumes to go through, which is just not feasible in terms of timeframe. But if you understand how to do Boolean searches, for example, you can get the top candidates, really, really easily.”

Boolean searches allow you to narrow down a search to find specific skills or experience you’re looking for in candidates. In most cases this involves including the terms ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ into search functions. For example, if you’re looking for certain skills in an HR professional, you might search ‘payroll AND management’. 

It can take some time to become familiar with how this process works best, but McMahon believes it can really speed up the process once you get the hang of it.

2. Virtual practices will be elevated

Vanessa Fajnkind, CEO of Brook Recruitment, is based in Melbourne, but after making her company’s recruitment processes virtual in 2020, she can now place candidates in other states with the help of video conferencing.

“Traditionally, we would have been doing face-to-face interviews with every single person. But our clients have really become accustomed to us doing Zoom interviews. That process has really given us much more flexibility,” says Fajnkind.

Fajnkind believes it’s unlikely the use of video interviews will slow down anytime soon.

McMahon says her clients have also become comfortable with virtual interviews and some have even turned to automated video interviews (AVI) to speed up the process. 

AVI’s remove the need for an interviewer, instead a question pops up on the screen and then films the candidate responding.

One platform McMahon uses allows the recruiter to share the footage with the employer and they can both judge the candidate’s answers. These can take the place of phone screenings or organising several interviews.

“In one assignment we video screened 20 candidates. I think we saved about 4 hours of time,” says McMahon.

“It also made rejecting candidates a lot easier, as we could give specific examples of how they answered the questions versus the shortlisted candidates.”

McMahon says it can also help identify candidates who have the right digital communication skills.

“If you’re not prepared to get on video and talk for two minutes about something, then you’re probably not going to function well in a remote work environment.”

3. Ageism could be on the rise

Diversity Australia CEO, Steven Asnicar, says he’s noticed a worrying trend impacting older candidates.

He says some employers think candidates over 40 are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, so are using this as an excuse not to hire them.

“What we are seeing is that people who are really qualified in that 40+ age bracket can’t even get a response from recruiters, let alone a response from employers who are putting job ads up.”

Asnicar says by disregarding older workers, organisations are missing out on a lot of knowledge and experience. He also warns that with an aging population, ignoring candidates due to their age is going to severely limit candidate pools.

The recently launched JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme (the claim period opens on the 1 February 2021) which offers employers a financial incentive to employ those aged 16-35 up until 6 October 2021 is only likely to make this worse.

But as the gatekeepers to employment, recruiters have the potential to change that thinking, even if it means reminding clients about their legal responsibilities.

“Recruiters are there to remind clients there are equal opportunity laws in play and with the current legislation it’s not only the recruiters that will be charged [for breaking the law], the client will be charged also,” says Asnicar.

“We have a lot of older talent returning from overseas at the moment but we’ve got to be more open minded in the recruitment cycle to take advantage of it.”


Computers haven’t completely replaced interviews just yet. If you’re looking to improve your interviewing skills then sign up to AHRI’s short course, Effective Interviewing And Selection Skills.


guest
5 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shayne Hyman
Shayne Hyman
10 months ago

Speaking with a recruiter for a government agency recently I was reminded of the unwritten “no-one over 40 rule” and I thought “REALLY???” But it’s a thing, I know and you know it – time to get some quotas on the agenda because relying on affected individuals to report is fraught! Let’s look at the demography of Australia and do something about diversity!

Luke Turner
Luke Turner
10 months ago

Automated Video Interviews are lazy and a poor employer branding exercise in my opinion.

The comment “If you’re not prepared to get on video and talk for two minutes about something, then you’re probably not going to function well in a remote work environment.” is very superficial & doesn’t go to the importance of non-verbal communication & the importance of building rapport with the candidate.

Pick up the phone and talk to the candidate.

Dave Abbot
Dave Abbot
10 months ago

Agreed that a face to face interview is part of a complete and honest recruitment process! Have heard of some seek costings from companies not using their databases and communication correctly seek to get rich.

Kyle
Kyle
9 months ago

Couldn’t agree more Luke, automated video interviews build no rapport. I am however not against zoom interviews. Usually if there is a substantial distance between interviewee and company. However physical interviews for shortlisted staff is always best.

hiresmart
hiresmart
5 months ago

Thanks for sharing this article. Hiring trends that were relevant six months earlier have are not applicable. Recruitment is now more focused on social media and AI.

More on HRM