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In a year largely defined by COVID and the consequent upheaval, a lot happened in talent acquisition: the large-scale shift in the way we work, the grand work-from-home experiment, all the tech that kept us connected and running, the Zoom-fatigue, and the ups and downs of how the work-sphere and home-sphere collided, all while mass unemployment abounded. This was the year we truly learned what flexible means. Amidst the pandemic slowdown, talent acquisition responded in this pivotal year, ramping up technological advances and focusing on the need to prioritize humanization in a time of social distancing.
COVID Led to Major Changes in Hiring Practices
A major milestone for talent acquisition was the pivot to the virtual sphere and the expanded reliance on HR tech. In any other year, hiring usually has a relatively steady flow, with the usual ups and downs. But this year it felt like it had a giant shut-off valve. Organizations operating with a leaner staff have had to compensate with technology to keep their processes running smoothly.
2020 saw increased investments in tech like CodeSignal, which transforms the recruiting process through scoring resumes—akin to providing an SAT score for candidate assessment. AI-assisted tech can compensate for shifts in workflow volume when the ebb and flow contains vast shifts. In essence, the acceleration in HR tech has met the need for efficiency in the year of the disrupted workforce.
Similarly, there are have also been increased tech transformations that support remote work and remote hiring. Another example is the video interview platform myInterview, a “smart” platform that incorporates personality assessment. Other pre-interview assessment tools that evaluate skills and personality have helped aid recruiters when it has been challenging to engage multiple interview rounds, especially remotely.
Conferences Took a Different Format
The year of talent acquisition conferences began as in years past. Then, as we all know, everyone pivoted in response to the pandemic, and conferences were canceled to keep people safe. There were a few notable conferences that switched to a virtual format in order to share ideas (without sharing germs). HR Transform occurred virtually in July, featuring zeitgeist topics like burnout and mental health and the needs of the physical office. Similarly, HR Tech Conference and Expo heavily featured the digital transformation accelerated by COVID as well as the greater need for empathy. The two tracks, the people-centered and the tech-centered, remarkably fit well together in a time when people and workers are trying to remain distanced and connected at the same time.
DEI Initiatives Increased
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives in the workplace continued to expand and take central focus—not only in fostering a better workplace for employees but also in creating a depth of talent that correlates to better business outcomes. This year saw the national reckoning with systemic racism brought on by the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, a defining moment that helped cement the direction toward increased DEI initiatives in the workplace as many organizations expressed solidarity with the movement. In practical terms for recruiters, this meant incorporating things like AI tech to reduce bias at the interview stage or increasing inclusion initiatives to ensure that every employee flourishes.
It is clear that talent acquisition has a role to play in recognizing systemic racism and responding accordingly, particularly as Millennials and Generation Z continue to fill the next generation of the workforce. Some notable diversity-related tech includes Workforce Logiq, a predictive workforce management platform that features diversity maps, and other candidate-centric sites like myGwork, a networking hub for LGBT+ professionals.
A lot of people are ready to say goodbye to 2020. But when we look back at the changes made to workplace culture this year, it's easy to see how they will have lasting (mostly positive) effects we will take with us into the future.