Jason Medley, Chief People Officer with Codility, recently engaged three thought leaders in the talent management space to provide future-of-talent predictions:  Shweta Jacob, Recruiting Lead at Lever; Ty Abernethy, Co-Founder and CEO at Grayscale; and Jeremy Tolan, Partnerships Manager, Spark Hire.

Remote work took center stage in the conversation. Connectedness among and between team members was heralded as a priority within the remote-work environment. Examples of connecting include all-hands meetings, regular check-ins by leadership, and creative communications such as weekly video messaging from the company CEO. 

As remote work evolves, a hybrid option enabling team members to go into an office a couple of days per week may supplant the 100% remote environment. Some companies will no longer opt for centralized headquarters, replacing them with hub offices scattered throughout the country, or even the globe.

Companies will continue recruiting talent across a much broader geography, due to the expansive nature of virtual hiring. Such a wide net of hiring combined with recent large-scale layoffs means that a tsunami of applicants for each job posting will continue to ensue. This will require companies to strengthen their talent teams in order to maintain a proper hiring pace.

Onboarding will be a number-one priority in 2021, ensuring a seamless, welcoming process that drives home the employee experience not just in theory but in action. Making new hires feel connected to their colleagues and equipped with the right tools from day one will be imperative. Investing in candidate experience, therefore, is no longer a nice-to-have but instead will be a competitive advantage drawing in the best talent vs. losing them to your competition.

Following are highlights of the conversation.

Overall Hiring Landscape Is Fertile

The overall consensus was that business growth and hiring have steadily picked up, albeit in a thoughtful manner, “about what roles they need and what roles they can do without,” according to Jacob.

Abernethy described how Grayscale’s customers, some of whom are in the healthcare sector, have been thrust into high-growth while simultaneously contending with a reduced talent-acquisition team. He also has seen a surge in applicants for job postings, as well as a peculiarity in how those applicants respond — or do not respond — once the selection process begins.

“It’s these sorts of challenges (that make for an) interesting market where it's really hot for some; it's kind of moderately hot to cool for others, but we're all experiencing just a lot of candidate flow,” explained Abernethy.

Remote Workplaces Will Continue to Evolve 

Companies will be able to sustain a remote model, having buoyed camaraderie and productivity through strategic initiatives. Some companies, like Lever, even saw their performance climb amid the pandemic.

As many people flee more expensive cities to reap the value of lower housing costs elsewhere, a mandate to return to full-time in-office work is unlikely. Some workplaces may morph into a hybrid or blended model, offering team members the option to divide their time between a corporate and home office.

Moreover, organizations’ headquarters may be replaced by company hubs in various cities across the country, a model that Lever has successfully deployed.

Thoughtful Automation and Digitalization Are Key Tools of the Future

The need prevails to reimagine solutions around talent acquisition, onboarding and learning and development, including leveraging automation in thoughtful ways that hum along in the background, suggested Abernethy. Recruiters can “scale themselves in a way to create meaningful moments” for candidates, while finding good matches between people and jobs. 

Video interviewing, virtual hiring events, web conferencing and SMS texting with candidates should be in the toolkit, as well as tools to gather meaningful feedback, said Tolan.

Medley, however, cautioned companies against the potential of tech fatigue. For example, scheduling virtual happy hours on the heels of a day filled with video calls could be taxing. One way to defray tech fatigue, suggested Tolan, is to offer on-demand video prescreening, enabling both candidates and hiring teams to record/review responses at their own convenience.

Moreover, “companies that are winning are those that have core systems that offer great integrations,” says Abernethy, who underscores continued innovation and leveraging of tech solutions such as Codility, Grayscale, Spark Hire and Lever to “create the experiences we’re talking about.”

Soft Skills Will Increase in Value

The general consensus was soft skills are most imperative in order to navigate a remote-communications, learning and management environment. Leadership must adapt to remote vision-setting as well as providing recognition, from afar. Adaptability, creativity, emotional intelligence as well as tech savviness also will be needed.

Remote Hiring Can Enable a More Diverse Workforce

Tolan described how the expanded geographical reach provides access to more diverse talent. 

Jacob expounded on the intentional actions Lever has taken toward creating a more diverse environment, including choosing the diverse city of Toronto for their second headquarters, as well as office hubs in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Abernethy reinforced the value of a structured hiring process vs. shooting from the hip in order to avoid biased hires. 

Remote Onboarding and Candidate Experience Top Predictions

Remote onboarding and a great candidate experience topped the predictions for the future of hiring.

Jacob emphasized how remote onboarding starts from the moment the candidate signs the offer, ensuring they are connected internally to welcoming people, while also being provided the necessary success tools. She also described how Lever’s process includes introducing new hires during semi-monthly all-hands meetings.

Tolan underscored the impact of a video message and email being sent with the official offer “to congratulate them and make them feel really excited about the offer.” He also described how Spark Hire’s CEO records and distributes an update video companywide every week that includes new-hire introductions.

Putting the candidate first is no longer a “fluffy, nice to have sort of thing,” but instead has become a “competitive advantage moving toward table stakes,” said Abernethy.

Guest blog submitted by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter


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2021 Predictions on Hiring, Sourcing and the Handoff to Onboarding