How 2020 Transformed Talent Acquisition

December 7, 2020 Mervyn Dinnen & Matt Alder

Human sitting for a video interview for hiring in 20204-minute read

The effect of COVID-19 on recruiting and hiring has been significant for all employers in 2020. Hiring freezes, layoffs, and staff redeployments have dominated the headlines, but at the same time, many employers are still recruiting and now have to work even harder to bring new talent into their business.

Companies in biotech and healthcare, as well as those looking to bring digital skills into their businesses, were already facing skill shortages before the pandemic. Those skill shortages haven’t gone away, and recruiting is now even more challenging than before. What are the long-term implications of the changes we are seeing in recruiting methods and processes?


The enforced move to remote work has led to a reworking of talent acquisition processes and communications, with a renewed focus on recruiting technology. Video interviewing had been slowly growing in popularity over the last few years, but now has very quickly become the default for employers recruiting during the pandemic.

Rising employment and reduced vacancy volumes mean many employers are dealing with an increased volume of applications, while at the same time reducing resources in their talent acquisition teams. These factors have driven a rise in adoption of recruiting automation software, particularly chatbots that can communicate with potential applicants at scale.


Despite rising numbers of applications, employers need to work harder to forge relationships with hard-to-find talent, as people who are currently employed are often less likely to risk changing jobs in an environment of intense economic uncertainty. Key selling points like quality of workspace as well as some traditional perks and benefits are no longer considered as important as they were at the start of the year. Differentiating and selling company culture can be a real challenge when everyone is working remotely and face-to-face meetings with potential colleagues are not possible.

The employers who are doing well at selling the culture and opportunity they offer are those with a clear value proposition which is demonstrated through excellent communication. An exceptional candidate experience is critical, and this is particularly felt at the executive level. Companies such as Intel are offering a full digital concierge service for executive candidates and hiring managers to make sure everyone is connected and communicating as well as they possibly can be.

Long-term trends

So, what are the long-term implications for talent acquisition teams operating in markets of scarce talent? 

Firstly, remote work is here to stay. Each employer will handle this trend differently, but there will likely be a more blended approach in the future. Broader long-term adoption of remote work also allows employers to reach across geographies and access more expansive pools of global talent. This is something that would not only have a significant impact on skill shortages; it could reshape the entire talent strategy of organizations that take this global view.

Secondly, the rise of recruiting automation poses several questions for organizations. What level of automation is possible? Where do the human-to-human interactions take place in a way that makes sure automation adds the most value for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers? Automation should enhance the candidate experience, not make it worse.

The implications of continued remote working and greater automation will mean that employers need to review their approach to technology and ascertain whether their current tech stacks are fit for purpose. Many have already realized they don’t have the right technology in place to support their evolved talent acquisition strategies. Some employers also bought technology solutions as distress purchases earlier in the year that may not be a fit for the long term. A generic video conference platform offers a short-term fix for remote interviewing, but in the long term, a purpose-built video interviewing platform offers the assessment and compliance features talent acquisition teams need. Employers should also review how their talent acquisition technology integrates into broader HR software suites.

What’s next

2020 has been a difficult and extremely challenging year. It has also been transformational. The acceleration of digital transformation in recruiting has the potential to revolutionize talent acquisition. Technology can drive higher-quality processes, which achieve better hiring outcomes and a better recruiting experience for everyone. Employers need to act now and act strongly to make sure they are realizing the opportunities this change creates and win the competitive advantage in talent acquisition.


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About the Author

Mervyn Dinnen & Matt Alder

Mervyn Dinnen is an HR and talent analyst, researching the emerging trends that impact hiring, development, and retention. He is author of the books "Exceptional Talent" and "Digital Talent," and is an international speaker on recruitment and HR trends. Matt Alder is a strategic consultant focusing on HR technology, recruitment marketing, and employer branding. He is the host of the “Recruiting Future” podcast and is a co-author of the books “Exceptional Talent” and “Digital Talent.” He speaks internationally on recruiting technology and the future of work.

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