While 2020 was without doubt a challenging year for us all, many will have entered the New Year with some sense of optimism. And while the announcement of another national lockdown has certainly put a dampener on some of the positive forward planning that staffing companies had begun, the simple fact is this: we’ve been here before and we know what can help businesses survive.
During the first lockdown we identified several recruitment marketing and PR trends emerge. As I’ve mentioned in a number of webinars since the pandemic began, we saw a number of firms ramp up their brand presence as hiring stalled following the initial announcement that the UK and much of the globe was lockdown. We saw more recruiters increase their activity on social media. Greater numbers of corporate advice videos emerged and company blogs increased. There was a demand across multiple media platforms for expert commentary and first-hand experience from those muddling through these uncertain times.
In essence, when the count was down, recruiters raised their voices. And as PR, marketing and social media professionals, we were proud.
But that was almost a year ago now. Many firms have found ways to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and while the new measures announced by Boris Johnson this week will certainly hinder the progress back to normality, we are without doubt more prepared now than we were first time around.
So, with this in mind, what do we think will be the recruitment marketing trends of 2021?
The power of online will continue to grow
With ‘in-person’ no longer the norm, the power of online will only proceed to increase over 2021. By means of explanation, when I mention online, I’m including any virtual platform – from company blogs and online media outlets, to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tik Tok.
In the absence of any other means of communicating, engaging or networking, online has been the only option available for many recruitment firms. However, even when rules are finally relaxed, we don’t expect there to be complete U-turn and an ultimate return to ‘normal’ as we remember it in a pre-pandemic world. Instead, recruitment marketing will most likely reflect the changing DNA of the workplace that we’ve witnessed, with a hybrid of the online or virtual PR and marketing activity that we’ve seen work during the pandemic and the more traditional methods that many of us miss.
As a case in point, networking events are likely to evolve to include on and offline interaction on the day. We can’t overlook the fact that a presentation in-person feels more engaging, but some online debates and events have worked well in the last year and have enabled more people to fit them in with their day-to-day routines. As such, having an online or recorded element of any events will likely prove valuable for future recruitment marketing tactics.
Brand reputation is critical
This year a recruitment firm’s reputation will be hugely critical. At times when budgets are tight, potential clients will turn to outside sources for information and guidance, even if they aren’t perhaps able to invest in outsourced providers to the extent they would like. But one thing is certain – they will remember the companies that supported them.
Once this is all over and investment opportunities begin to grow for many firms, their first point of call will undoubtedly be those organisations that built their expert reputation during times of crisis. As such, we predict that over the next 12 months we will see more recruitment businesses turning their attention to building their brand profile.
We can’t forget as well that despite the current economic climate, the candidate experience is still key in recruitment. Competition for the top talent will be rife for staffing companies and in-house talent acquisition teams alike, and the best applicants will be judging a business on how they managed their relationships with candidates during the crisis. Those firms that have built a reputation for supporting the jobs seekers they work with during tough times will certainly find that top talent will increasingly turn to them as we eventually move out of the pandemic. And we all know that those recruiters with the best candidates on their books will have the greatest competitive advantage.
Video will be an imperative tool
We saw in the first lockdown that in the absence of face-to-face, video is king. From talking head recordings, shot on mobile phones, published across social media platforms, to a shift to a greater uptake of video interviews, this more interactive communication tool has certainly become more popular throughout the last year.
And while it’s safe to assume that it will continue to be a highly utilised tool during times of national and regional lockdown, it will, without doubt, prove valuable beyond the current times of crisis. The main reasoning behind this is that many businesses have simply adapted and if a new way of communicating is working well, why change it?
What we do expect to see, though, is a more creative use of this visual tool to avoid video communication having a similar impact on audiences as the ‘Zoom fatigue’ that a lot of people have experienced at some point in recent months. This is where we expect to see video being more strategically utilised in recruitment marketing to support wider content that is being produced. Having a recording available of a key spokesperson running through the top trends of the latest report or a video debate between other thought leaders are just a few ways that video can be integrated into the full marketing and PR matrix.
Positive trends will continue
Of course, in these tough times it is difficult to steer clear of all the doom and gloom out there. But we’ve seen over the last ten months that the drastic change in circumstances can drive some positives as well. In particular, Covid-19 has achieved more for diversity and inclusion in a short space of time than we could ever have hoped.
We’ve seen recruiting processes shift online, which has in turn removed a significant number of barriers for those unable to travel for an interview for any reason. And the ability for continued remote working has enabled those who had previously found they couldn’t fit commute plans or set working hours in with their personal circumstances to access wider job opportunities.
Looking forward to the coming 12 months, this will only continue to accelerate as the country adapts to yet another national lockdown, with remote working remaining in place and even returning for some.
Recruitment marketing will be a top trend for 2021
While we’re certainly not completely out of the woods yet in terms of pandemic recovery, the year ahead is arguably less uncertain that 2020 was for so many of us. Last year, businesses had no idea what impact a global crisis, border closure and mass furlough of staff would have, let alone a clear idea on how to navigate this environment.
Now, however, we know that many of us can adapt and that some changes can be beneficial for organisations. As we all plan ahead for 2021, one thing is certain for staffing businesses: this is the year to create a truly competitive recruitment marketing strategy.