Survey: Top Talent Leaders Are Quickly Adapting to the New Normal

The recent Employer Branding NOW 2020 study, conducted by employer branding firm Universum during the pandemic’s surge months in early 2020, shows that many employers did not expect a hiring lull amidst the economic slowdown. Even so, the majority (56%) said they expect the hiring environment to get harder, this despite record-high unemployment in many global markets. And 86% said recruiting needs in the coming year will be level, if not higher.

Among other findings from the survey of more than 1,100 human resources and talent management leaders from 49 countries from February through April 2020:

  • The share of large companies that say they are “very concerned” about growing competition for key talent from the startup sector dropped by half in 24 months. In 2018, 38% said they were very concerned; in 2020, just 17% said the same.
  • Talent leaders at top employers say “learning agility” is the single most important quality in new hires, with nearly half (46%) of respondents in the survey citing it.
  • While counterintuitive, the economic slowdown is creating bigger headaches for talent executives. The hunt for top talent in high-demand fields has not abated, and every job opening is flooded with a higher number of applicants.
  • Recruiters have unwittingly been preparing for the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19 for a few years, with 82% of respondents in the survey saying they have adopted video recruiting, up from 59% in 2019. And “people analytics” (using technology and AI to drive smarter decisions at scale) has jumped from 28% to 43%.

“Fielding this year’s study during the pandemic presented an interesting snapshot,” says Richard Mosley, global vice president of strategy for Universum. “Even though hard-hit companies have been forced to lay off employees, the demand for widely in-demand, mission-critical roles has not diminished. Top companies are pushing as hard as ever to lure top talent to their ranks, and employer branding remains a vital tool in achieving this.”