2021 Trends in the HR Hiring Process

Some 2020 trends in the HR hiring process include; longer timelines in hiring international workers, using labor market data to improve DEI recruiting strategy, and effective employer branding.

1. Longer Timelines in Hiring International Workers

  • Hiring foreign workers became complex as new laws and delays in different areas, like visa processing, became predominant during the pandemic.
  • The US declined to allow arrivals on some permits by at least the end of 2020.
  • For example, earlier on in the year, the Trump administration introduced “a foreign worker freeze until at least the end of 2020, denying four main categories of visas: H1-B, L, J, and H-2B.”
  • These changes require employers to be more patient when hiring foreign employees.
  • Companies wishing to employ foreign staff have a range of choices. One widely preferred alternative on account of convenience is to work with a top-choice candidate.
  • This trend is driven by changes in regulations and delays following flight cancellations, visa processing, and in some cases, delayed PCR tests.

2. Using Labor Market Data to Improve DEI Recruiting Strategy

  • HR leaders used labor market data to identify, analyze, and modify their location preferences and broaden their talent pools in 2020.
  • With a wider lens and a deeper understanding of supply and demand in the labor market, organizations can leverage and adjust diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) strategies more efficiently.
  • HR leaders are using comprehensive data about competitor diversity and the external market to assess the impact of inclusive, fair procurement, and development of diverse talents by biased talent processes.
  • Organizations have expanded their geographical hiring footprint and exploited versatile locations with the “rapid adoption of remote and hybrid workforce models in 2020″ to increase the total pool of skilled, available talent and boost the representation of diverse talent within their organization.


  • The events of 2020 have highlighted the importance of DEI in business and talent policies, as demonstrations against racial inequality followed by the economic and health challenges posed by COVID-19 disproportionately affected underrepresented groups.

3. Effective Employer Branding

  • To ensure that their top prospects for hiring remain engaged, companies are seamlessly incorporating compelling employer branding content into their applicant nurturing campaigns in 2020.
  • When more employers scale up their efforts and job seekers resume their job search, these branding efforts will offer a competitive edge for businesses and brands preemptively.
  • Consequently, potential candidates are 40% more likely to apply for a job since they recognize the company’s brand due to effective employer branding.
  • With many Americans stuck at home and online traffic on the increase because of COVID-19 restrictions, employers can be confident that candidates are “thoroughly researching their online presence and reputation.”


  • Hiring leaders and brands are focusing on employer branding to prepare them for the return of normalcy in the job market post-COVID-19.

4. Remote Work

  • Hiring trends in 2020 have thus gravitated towards the use of technologies and tools that help in the acquisition and management of remote teams, including virtual and augmented reality work environments, virtual offices, and the use of advanced multimedia communication tools.
  • Companies must nevertheless update their laws and regulations to accommodate remote work and ensure that the psychological needs of their employees are satisfied. This will ensure that the employees’ well-being is maintained long after the pandemic is contained

5. Virtual Interviews

  • As employers continue to ask employees to work from home in order to maintain social distancing, companies have replaced physical interviews with virtual ones. 
  • While some US companies continue changing their work structures to embrace remote work, others such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook adopted these practices as early as March 2020.
  • For example, Amazon canceled all its physical interviews and established virtual ones to allow potential candidates to connect with recruiters, fill in the necessary documents, and then participate in interviews via Amazon Chime, which is the organization’s videoconferencing software.
  • On the other hand, Google conducts its interviews via videoconferencing or Google Hangouts, while LinkedIn does the same through BlueJeans or asks candidates to wait until physical interviews will be feasible once more.
  • Virtual recruitment has now become commonplace and allowed firms to keep the hiring process flowing while protecting the recruiters and candidates from the COVID-19 virus.
  • Most companies continue to use phone and resume screenings during the initial stages of hiring but they move on to virtual interviews in the next stage of presentation. This allows the recruiters to see the candidates and also establish rapport with them.
  • One of the potential benefits of remote interviewing is that it will motivate employers to invest in and leverage remote-work technology. With time, it will allow candidates and employees to get comfortable with these practices and expand the opportunity to increase flexibility in the workplace as they grapple with the challenges presented by the virus.

6. Virtual Onboarding

  • COVID-19 has created unique onboarding experiences for new employees because they are now orientated into business operations via online media communication tools.
  • After hiring employees, firms now expect the new hires to meet their colleagues online, for example through videoconferencing.
  • With human interaction removed from the equation, HR managers have established strategies to ensure that their virtual onboarding activities are as effective as possible as compared to an on-site process. This is because a good onboarding process can enhance retention rates by as much as 82%.
  • A new employee’s onboarding process is usually their first official introduction to the organization, so a poor process will lead to employee turnover within the first three months on a job. In such instances, the organization is liable to lose talented hires because of poor induction.
  • With the shift to remote work due to COVID-19, firms have been forced to engage in virtual learning, which requires organizations to invest in digital technologies, video conferencing software, and employee engagement tools. HR managers that learn how to use such tools are consequently more likely to customize each new hire’s experience and thus make the onboarding process meaningful for the hires.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management learned that virtual onboarding is easing the hiring process for some firms.
  • For instance, Lidl has been able to speed up its recruitment and onboarding process because potential candidates can apply to work in the organization, complete the interviews and onboarding, and be ready to start work within a few days.
  • The use of videoconferencing platforms has helped to speed up the process, but the company’s management admits that it has also been forced to break away from its standards to speed up the process. For instance, the firm now allows new employees to start working even before their background check is processed
  • What this implies is that the pandemic has the potential to compromise employee selection and hiring in the long term and ultimately affect customer service. Therefore, even as firms adapt to the virtual hiring and onboarding process necessitated by the virus, they must ensure that they always maintain high standards for employee recruitment and selection.
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