Hiring & Talent Strategy

How Talent Access is Changing in 2021

March 16, 2021 ──── Joe Mullings
Executive Search, Recruiting Best Practices

How Talent Access is Changing in 2021

How Talent Access is Changing in 2021
Over the last two years, the World of Work has seen rapid changes that show no signs of slowing down. To keep up, talent access professionals must understand the trends that are defining the future of our industry and learn how to take advantage of them. 

Let’s break down the most important developments 2021 has brought to talent access. Professionals must recalibrate, plan for the future, and leverage the opportunities the new World of Work will bring.

How 2021 Has Changed Talent Access 

This year brought the inauguration of the new Biden/Harris administration. Typically, presidential changes influence investments, capital markets, and tax strategies, but this year was anything but normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on intense societal shifts that largely overshadowed inauguration-related instability, nearly decimating some industries and bringing unprecedented opportunity to others.The Biden/Harris administration inherited the tough job of managing market uncertainty related to the pandemic, lockdowns, and social unrest. 

In 2021, I believe we will see them navigate this climate by focusing on the pressing social issues that have dominated public discourse over the last year, while avoiding drastic measures around tax policy, interest rates, and stimulus plans. 

With the public markets in a state of fragility, bold change in these areas could affect stock market trajectory, mortgage rates, and capital expenditure tax policy, potentially tipping an already precarious market. 

To avoid exacerbating this unpredictability, the new administration will rightfully emphasize the other massive subjects that need attention in our country: social injustice and inequality. 

2021 and the World of Work

In 2021, both workers and talent access professionals need to prepare for a year of intense change. The relevancy and market value of certain skills is declining as, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a rapid shift towards remote work is threatening to make thousands of workers obsolete.

In particular, the leisure, hotel, restaurant, and institutional education industries have seen dramatic transformation over the past year. These sectors will not disappear, but the way they approach work has completely changed as businesses shift towards virtual engagement and away from face-to-face interaction. 

Workers need to accept that they will be returning to, or entering, a market that functions differently than it did before. Similarly, talent access professionals should anticipate high numbers of underskilled individuals from affected industries seeking a career shift — and many of them will not be fully prepared. 

How to Prepare for a Changing Marketplace

To prepare for these radical changes, talent access professionals must be aware of how their industry is developing. Who are investment dollars coming from? Where are they being deployed? 

New technology is being implemented faster and faster, and former business models and practices are falling out of use. This is a watershed moment that will separate companies who fail to keep up with this changing landscape from those that lead the way. 

While there will be a rapid reduction in hiring at companies that don’t stay relevant, there will be a once in a generation explosion of opportunity and capitalization for those who make the most of the tech that is shaping the World of Work.

Talent has always been the key to business success, but in a landscape of such rapid change, talent acquisition may become more strongly emphasized than ever before. I predict that in the near future, talent access will be separated from the corporate HR umbrella — these fields serve nearly opposite functions, and should be led and managed differently. Instead, talent access will become a distinct department, reporting directly to CEOs and presidents of organizations. 

Relevancy and Longevity in a New Landscape

The most important way to stay relevant is to build and retain deep knowledge of your industry, then share it widely. Your goal should be economic analyst-level knowledge of where investment into your industry is coming from, what parts of your market are at risk, and which technological disruptors are most likely in the next five years. 

Next, you must establish your reputation as an expert on the current and future state of your market. We are living in an age when you have tremendous power to teach, inform, and share your knowledge — take advantage of social platforms like LinkedIn and their ability to scale your reach. Since less than 2% of recruiters take the time to properly brand themselves online, this is a golden opportunity to stand out from the crowd and establish yourself as an authority within your niche. 

A Bold Vision of the Future

Change isn’t easy, but talent access professionals know how to rise to a challenge. While the pandemic’s effects on industries have varied widely, all are being forced to reckon with the past standards, processes, and business models they took for granted. 

With a little creativity and optimism, we can emerge from the struggles of the pandemic into a World of Work that’s even safer, more productive, and more innovative than the one we left behind.