Recruiting today has been transformed by COVID-19. From virtual recruiting and upskilling online to political developments and industry sector performance, we’ve rounded up the most important recruitment trends that will shape 2021.

Industry Trends

Employer Branding
Employer branding is more of a fundamental part of recruitment than it is a trend. Building, leveraging and promoting an employer brand will all be high priorities for this year.

AI and Automation
2021 will be the year that takes over the recruitment process. Recruitment agencies can use algorithms and artificial intelligence to automate the CV screening process, to ensure all candidates are replied to and even schedule interviews.

Social Media Recruiting
Social media recruiting will be the secret to talent acquisition in 2021. Recruiting agencies can build brand awareness and promote the relevant employer brand as well as advertise particular vacancies.

Temporary Workers
Businesses don’t like unpredictability, and 2020 was one of the most unpredictable years on record. More companies are looking to hire contingent workers for flexibility and to reduce ongoing costs.

Remote Recruiting
As well as the convenience of talking to candidates from a variety of locations over video rather than having to schedule in-person interviews, remote recruiting saves time, frees up resources and allows the recruiter to talk to a broader pool of candidates from across the globe.

Candidate Experience
Maintaining a positive candidate experience is essential this year. Businesses can improve their recruitment experience by using the latest technologies, such as applicant tracking software. However, as the candidate experience becomes increasingly digitised, recruiting professionals must include personalised messages to blend technology with a human touch.

The following sectors will see high volumes of hiring throughout 2021:


Social Care

Online Learning and Education


Hiring Challenges

Overseas Talent
The free movement agreement with the EU ended on the 1st of January 2021. The UK’s new points-based immigration system includes several categories, such as international students and graduates, skilled workers with job offers and highly skilled experts without job offers. These changes may impose restrictions on overseas talent for some sectors, particularly those with lower pay.

Permanent Placements
The UK market has seen a fall in permanent job vacancies in the last few months, leading to a growing demand for temporary billings. The IT and Engineering industries are showing higher demand for permanent jobs, as opposed to the Hotel & Catering and Retail industries, which are focused on temporary job vacancies.

Operational Challenges

Data Security
Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (retained from EU Regulation 2016/679 EU) (UK GDPR), when an employer collects personal data about an applicant during a recruitment process, whether this is directly from the applicant or from a third party (such as a recruitment agency) it must provide the applicant with an information notice, also known as a privacy notice or fair processing notice.

IR35 Change for Temporary Workers
Flexible working is one of the main attractions that draw people into temping. But from the 6th of April 2021, that flexibility means the recruitment agencies they work through will have to change the way they calculate their holiday pay.

Currently, a temporary worker’s holiday pay is calculated on a rolling average of their pay over a 12-week reference period. This will change to a 52-week reference period, and impact recruitment agencies in two ways. Firstly, depending on when their temps decide to take their holidays, it may mean they have to increase their holiday pay. And secondly, it means they’ll have an increased admin burden as they’ll need to make sure you have full, accurate records of each temporary worker’s hours and pay for the previous 52 weeks (or however many weeks they’ve been employed, if it’s less than 52).

Outdated Technologies
Businesses are being negatively impacted by outdated forms of technology. Lack of funds dedicated to business equipment has prevented businesses from scaling up and developing.
The adoption of new technology has increased the demand for tools such as virtual onboarding and fully automated payroll systems.

Technological Innovations

Contactless Hiring
Emotion AI is a dynamic tool that makes businesses reconsider their biases, methods and screening processes. Facial recognition, candidate assessments, eye tracking, brainwave mapping, video interviews and emotion tracking will soon find space in everyday recruitment.

Predictive Analytics
In addition to making the employee selection process faster or activating a dormant talent pool, intelligent systems can also signal when a current employee is getting ready to quit a current job. Smart recruiters will be using these insights to make the most appropriate interventions and talent decisions.

Virtual Reality
Face-to-face videoconferencing will be replaced in 2021 by more immersive experiences with technologies like virtual reality and mixed reality. Working from home, assessing eligible candidates, the onboarding of employees remotely, keeping employees engaged with the company’s culture and removing biases in selection and appraisals will be possible using virtual reality.


Top Priorities for Recruitment Agencies in 2021

Recruitment Strategies
80% of recruiters in all industries have used at least one remote recruiting strategy during the lockdown. Online recruitment is a long-term transition, and this move is forced to be accelerated by recruiters.

Hiring for Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion incorporate many aspects of the employees’ identity, including age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and more. Since more than half of job seekers value a diverse workforce, recruitment companies are now planning to implement recruiting strategies focused on finding, attracting and hiring diverse candidates.

Remote Testing and Assessment
While testing and assessment tools have been around for some time, adapting these for a remote environment without impacting cultural fit identification, diversity numbers, or the assessment of soft and transferrable skills is key.

The recruitment landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever before. Therefore, it’s vital to stay informed this year and pay equal attention to the sector hiring challenges, operational issues, technical innovations and industry trends outlined in this report. MIT’s innovative solutions help recruitment agencies achieve their goals by closely following industry trends and engaging employees to achieve high retention rates.