2021 – 3 Recruiting Challenges That Won’t Be Going Away Soon!

2021 – 3 Recruiting Challenges That Won’t Be Going Away Soon!

by Sara Bennett | January 18, 2021

0 Author-Jeanne

For Recruiters – The Hurdles We’ll Face in 2021 are NOT NEW.  We Just Have to Jump Higher!

As we walk into 2021,  we can’t help but notice how much has changed about the people side of our businesses since we marched into the 21st century.  And these changes are not just about the COVID lockdowns of 2020 – something we will all remember but in the grand scheme of things will end up being a short term blip.

For recruiters, how we recruit, who we hire and how we put people to work has been re architected, digitized, and re-digitized many times over in the last ten years.   A marketing slogan our company created over  20 years ago – ”the right people, in the right jobs, at the right time,  and in the right way”  – is still relevant,  but it’s amazing how differently we are defining “right” today than we did in 2000.

As I get out my periscope to prepare our recruiting team for 2021, trying not to get distracted by the anomalies of our last 9 months, I see that the challenges of 2021 aren’t going to look that different from the challenges of 2018 and 2019.  The recruiting and staffing trends that likely impact recruiters day to day haven’t really changed that much.  These are trends that have been with us for a while, and stubbornly, just won’t go away.   

#1 The Challenge of Finding Great Talent Will Continue to Keep Northwest Recruiters Employed!      

Don’t be fooled by our short term and apparently  “candidate rich” marketplace.   Bigger picture local, national, even global demographic data hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t lie.  With a shortfall of 85 million workers projected to hit the global economy in 2030, the long-term prognosis for “talent availability” is not good.

Yes, there are opportunities right now to take advantage of a COVID driven blip – people who are on the market now who we wouldn’t have been there 12 months ago – but a blip is a blip that will soon be reset to reflect the same acute levels of worker shortages we have been experiencing since early 2018.    Yes, the shortage of talent ready to work in today’s jobs, will continue to be a significant hurdle for Northwest businesses.

People don’t talk about it much, but the seriousness of global talent shortages will be as impactful to the trajectory of business as “global warming.” is to the  trajectory of our climate.

While we know the competition for talent across the US and the globe will increase, the question is what’s in store for Northwest employers.  Is the Northwest going to be the kind of place where people want to live and work so that we can attract our share of workers nationally?  Globally?

From my perch, there are times when the variety and scope of opportunities our Northwest employer community offers to employees from all over the world, makes our region look unstoppable. There are other times when, like last summer, pockets of the Northwest don’t look like places where businesses can thrive, or where people will want to raise their families.

Clearly there are critical geopolitical decisions that will be made over the next several years that could impact the people side of Northwest businesses for decades to follow…but that’s another story, for another time, another venue.

A SPECIAL NOTE TO NORTHWEST RECRUITERS WHO FOUND THEMSELVES OUT OF WORK IN 2020.  While corporate recruiters are often the first to be downsized in an economic slowdown, rest assured that looming talent shortages = long term job security.   CEO’s know that finding and retaining talent will be key to their personal and business success, and that a great recruiter can make a big difference to their ability to attract and retain talent.  From our perspective, we think recruiters will always have work, but do have questions as to whether or not that work will come packaged like a job.  More on that topic later.      


#2 Hiring for “Fit” Will Continue to be “Uber Important”  

In late 2019, I took interest in the findings of 2 global surveys conducted by Monster that took a close look at how companies were recruiting and how employees found jobs.  Monster’s executive team was particularly interested in how the new technology driven hiring processes were impacting hiring results – where there might be gaps for both employers and employees that would be uncovered.

I first learned about these surveys in a speech given by Monster’s CEO at our annual Staffing Industry Forum where he cited the findings of the Monster surveys to challenge all recruiters, corporate and third party, to do better.   He made the point that while technologies had enabled recruiting processes to move faster, they had also commoditized both the employer’s and the employee’s experience of the hiring process, making it more about getting jobs filled, than actually making a difference to the employee’s job satisfiers or the company’s performance.  He also noted that while hiring was now more efficient, the process more streamlined, the concept of “fit” had all but disappeared from the recruiting process.

This was a problem that the Monster executives felt was significantly impacting both employers and employees.  Employees were becoming increasingly unhappy and disengaged in jobs that were not the right fit for them.  Employers were not able to impact their already high rates of turnover -some studies showing that just under 50% of all hiring decisions turn into hiring mistakes.

Monster’s passion on this topic was revealed in a subsequent article entitled….

“The Mythical “Right Fit” Isn’t Just Possible – It’s a Hiring Must.”

Obviously, all this attention to a topic that I felt strongly about myself,  caught my eye.  To be honest, I thought all recruiters were as dedicated as the PACE team was to the power of “fit” in the hiring process.  To  hear the recruiting industry being challenged for veering off that track was eye opening.  For us the recruiter’s job had never been about just putting people to work quickly, but about placing people into roles that “fit” – where employees could be happier doing work in ways that played to their strengths,  where employers would enjoy the benefits of their employee’s increased productivity.  We had been using “fit” to make a difference even on a 3 month temporary assignment.

In thinking about the Monster findings more, I realized that while PACE had always prided itself on being ahead of the curve in how we applied new technologies to the recruiting process, we had been adapting these technologies in the context of a very human overlay that was all about the “fit”. Apparently in the rush to just get people hired, other recruiting teams had not.  They had leaned so heavily into the technologies that allowed them to move fast, they had gotten away from what really mattered about a hire – the “right fit.”

For PACE, building our business around the power of “fit” had always been an important service differentiator and involved very detailed processes we had invested in heavily because we knew they made a difference.  Our placement results were compelling.  Candidates selected for roles on the basis of “fit” (even temporary roles) became our client’s strongest performers, their most enthusiastic team members.   Candidate’s selected for “fit” were happier in their roles, stayed longer on the jobs where we placed them,  and often became candidates for promotion.

It’s still a thrill for us to walk into a client’s office and see the employee we placed 5 years earlier in an entry level administrative role running their own department, or leading up an important company initiative.   How exciting is that?

For us, placing candidates in jobs based on “fit” is a highly personal matter, a source of job and career satisfaction for our staff.

Yes, it takes more time, but it is time well spent.  Thank you Monster for shinning a light on something we’ve always known – when it comes to putting people into jobs, “fit” will always be the secret sauce. .

#3 The Disconnects Between “Appearance and Reality” Will Continue to Be  Annoying!      

Honestly what can you say about this “trend” that so impacts all of our lives, for sure how recruiters have to approach their work, differently than how we did things a short decade ago.    As John Lennon said (or sung) “even reality is subject to our imagination.”  The blurring of the lines – between fact and opinion, between reality and our imaginations about that reality – have become incredibly confusing for people who pursue “truths”.  They have also broken down trust at all levels of society – from the news on down to our daily interactions with others, for sure between recruiters and candidates .

For recruiters and hiring managers, this new universe delivers a daily dose of the unexpected.  The perfect candidate who decides at the last minute not to go to their “final interview” with your CEO because they’ve decided to accept an offer from another employer they didn’t think to mention to you when you spent 20 minutes preparing them for their interview.   The employee who comes to work on Monday acting completely different than the candidate we behaviorally interviewed the week prior.   The professionally prepared resume made a candidate appear to have the skills you needed, when in reality, not even close.  And yes, that long term employee who you thought you “knew” who lets you know on Monday that they’ve taken another job and won’t be back.

The list of ways people, candidates and employees can create a appearance different from a reality, is lengthy.

But employers too are not always as they seem.  Recruiters will often give candidate’s copies of their mission or values statements that describe nothing like the office politics the employee actually experiences at work.  Hiring managers can act like missionaries for a collaborative management style during an interview, and turn into authoritarian control freak after you’re hired.

I’ve been in the business long enough to notice – and while it could be my age or a jaundiced view of life today as compared to better times – it sure seems like people operating in today’s world are very different from previous generations.  Candidates will say what they think you want to hear, rather than give it to you straight.  Management candidates will take credit for an achievement that happened under their watch, even though they weren’t really that involved.

Coming from that generation where even the slightest exaggeration might turn into a “wash your mouth with soap” level offense…I can’t help but notice the looseness with which people in today’s world are willing to describe their reality, different from how that reality might be described by “objective” others and how that trend has impacted how recruiters need to approach their work.  

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think people purposefully lie, but I do think there are a growing number of job candidates out there who are keenly aware of the need to say the right things, do the right things, to make the right impressions.  Heck by the time someone has graduated from college they’ve already taken a class and attended multiple seminars on how to get the right job, how to prepare the right resume, how to interview in the right way.  They are really good at “appearances.”

The message to recruiters?  Understand this trend and make a commitment to deal with it more openly.  Make “trust but verify” a basic component of every hiring process.   

If it were up to me, companies would have policies requiring their recruiters to get at least 2 or 3 references from people who have actually supervised a candidate’s work before they’ could be hired.  Why?   In a society where candidate’s know that most recruiters are too busy to verify their college degree or check a work reference – is a society ripe for an increased number of hiring mistakes.  That’s what we’re getting now.

Recruiters are the firewall we need to prevent those mistakes.


PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A 4-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditions, direct hire professional recruiting services, Employer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact our Partner Services and Solutions team at 425-637-3312, email us or visit our website.

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