Talent Diversity Inclusion Dawn IMage credit pixabay\GeraltThe iCIMS 2021 Workforce Report makes an interesting read. The findings are based partly on data from the iCIMS data platform with more than 332 million global users and partly from a survey of 500 HR leaders in the US. While the report is based on mainly US-centric information, it offers some insights into global trends. Further updated information from the data platform is available from iCIMS Insights every month.

The report commences with an introduction by Steve Lucas, CEO iCIMS, who sets the scene with two key CEO priorities. The first, to build a great customer is founded on the second – build a winning workforce. Lucas notes: “The quality of your workforce is the difference between being good and being great.”

Steve Lucas, CEO iCIMS
Steve Lucas, CEO iCIMS

The report then dives into how the market changed through 2020. It then identifies the key trends for employers looking to act on that. The report starts with an overview of its findings across eight topics. These highlight statistics from the platform data, the survey data, and secondary research. The remaining sections dive into further details to highlight some insights along with two sets of tips from HR leaders, customers of iCIMS.

What has happened

The pandemic had a significant effect on hiring during 2020. More than 22 million jobs were lost in March and April 2020 in the US alone. By the end of the year, there were signs of recovery with job openings down only 3% and hires down 10%, these were down 35% at the lowest point. That recovery is unlikely to return all 22 million into jobs, but it does mean that there is a wider talent pool available.

Importantly, the survey indicated that 91% of organisations were looking to hire in 2021. However, what isn’t clear is whether they were looking to return to pre-pandemic levels or just to increase staff as the lockdowns start to end. There is also an enormous difference between industries with Health Services needing more workers than ever before, but at the opposite end of the scale, retail hiring is down 18.2%.

Another change is that with remote working, it is the jobs rather than the people who have become mobile. Applications from out of state increased by 34%, as employers introduce both a flexible work schedule (69%) and remote work capabilities (66%).

Charles Mah, Chief Evangelist, iCIMS noted: “Hiring is more competitive than ever. Creating a solid starting lineup of qualified candidates can help support efforts to find best-fit candidates, diversify, build new skills in your organization, and create a community of brand ambassadors. But, diversifying pipelines in this environment requires new thinking. It is critical to create authentic, dynamic experiences and then apply smart analysis to build out and broaden talent pools strategically.”

Diversity – signs of improvement

Diversity has been at the top of many HR leaders’ agenda for some time. It appears that things are now heading in the right direction. Women in underrepresented racial and ethnic groups made up the largest proportion of hires in 2020 at 30%. The report does not indicate how this has shifted from 2019 but infers that it is an increase. This is a positive sign. However, the report does not address why it happened. Could it be that with interviews carried out remotely or with video technology such as that provided by the recent iCIMS acquisition, EASYRECRUE, unconscious bias is less of a factor? More progress is needed as 84% of HR leaders are concerned that their organization’s current recruiting and hiring tools aren’t reaching diverse talent pools.

Jenna Sandker, director of talent acquisition and candidate experience at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, contributes to the report with five tips on addressing this challenge.

A new target for talent?

There is also a shift in both whom organisations are employing and how they are doing so. There are two key trends: 58% of organisations rely significantly on contingent hires, and organisations are waking up to the incredible talent on their doorstep, their existing employees.

This trend was kickstarted when 72% of organisations redeployed up to half of their workforce at the start of the pandemic. This demonstrates that corporate knowledge might be just as important in roles as skills. Skills can also be taught through modern learning platforms. Companies are looking to invest in the latter to leverage the full capabilities of the existing workforce. This is something that many companies have done for years in leadership scheme, where graduates shift around the company to get a wider experience. It seems that other employees can adapt, increase loyalty and benefit their employer with similar shifts. Remote working has enabled redeployment with location less of a factor than role now.

Technology matters

As one might expect from an iCIMS report, the findings consistently link back to how organisations leverage new technology to address the challenges.  Virtual hiring is increasing. 49% of HR leaders are looking to increase investment in virtual methods of recruitment and candidate engagement. This is seeing an increase in usage of both new and old technology. Interviews by chatbot tripled during the year. In addition, 2.7+ million people used text messaging to apply to a job in 2020. Again iCIMS did not reveal how much that increased from 2019.

Also, 80% are looking to expand or accelerate digital transformation plans. Not surprisingly, 96% of North American business intend to invest more in collaboration technology. It seems that Zoom, Slack and Teams et al. are here to stay!

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

This is a very interesting report that notes technology and hiring trends. The report fails slightly by not having the previous years figures to evidence the changes in many cases. One additional finding is the shortage of skilled technical talent. Computer and Information research scientist and Application Software developers the hardest, and longest roles to fill. Organisations are starting to look internally for likely recruits. The challenge for organisations is that they will need to carefully consider remuneration for these internal recruits as they rapidly add technical skills to business knowledge. They may become sought after by other firms.

Robert Carruthers, executive director of talent strategy and innovation, at Bristol-Meyers Squibb provides five tips on promoting internal talent. Al Smith, Chief Technology Officer at iCIMS, commented: “Companies have been becoming increasingly tech-savvy for years, driving the need for digitally-skilled talent.

In summary, it is well worth a read with more takeouts than the average whitepaper. Hiring and retaining great talent is nearly always top of the agenda for CIOs that Enterprise Times speaks to. This report gives some insights on how to improve.


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