As with just about every aspect of life, the world of executive recruiting has evolved at rapid pace over the last year and a half. Now that we’re moving into what may be the beginnings of a period of stability, it’s become clear that some of the recruiting and hiring trends that have recently evolved are here to stay, at least in some form.
Here are four strong trends that are shaping the hiring experience for both candidates and hiring teams:
1. A focus on recruiting leaders of color. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest have had an extraordinarily strong impact on hiring. Hiring managers, teams, and organizations reacted to these events by looking inward and, in most cases, realizing that their teams are not diverse. This led to a sudden, intense demand for leaders of color, which has not abated. Leaders of color are reporting being recruited at higher rates than they’ve ever experienced, and hiring managers are prioritizing diversity in their pools and processes more than ever.
2. Virtual work arrangements. When the pandemic first hit, candidates and hiring managers wondered how they could ever accept a job offer or make a hire without meeting each other in person. Today, it’s a given that interviews will be by video conference, and many candidates and managers aren’t meeting at all. We’re in an extraordinary moment of adaptation that will likely change the world of work — permanently. While it’s too soon to say exactly what that will look like, it does seem clear that virtual work arrangements are here to stay. Many candidates are actively seeking jobs that will allow them to continue working from home, at least part-time, and employers are quickly creating flexible work policies to accommodate those who do want to come into the office, those who don’t, and the many people in between.
3. A tight talent market. When the pandemic first hit, there was a significant slowdown in hiring. But that didn’t last long. We’re now in a market with a significant shortage of talent coupled with a greater number of opportunities. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that so many people put off plans for hiring or transitioning during the pandemic but are now emerging to make some moves. If you’re a candidate, this likely means that you’ll be facing some stiff competition, but it also means that you may be able to increase compensation ranges. If you’re a hiring manager, it’s critical to recognize that a tight market means that you may have fewer choices, you may lose candidates if the process goes on too long, and, of course, you may have to increase salaries.
4. Leadership burnout. The stress and pace of change over the last year and a half cannot be underestimated. We’ve experienced sheltering at home, a rapid evolution of how and when we work, how our children go to school, and how we live our lives day to day — all while continuing to meet the demands of the workplace with a completely new set of parameters. All of this has resulted in leaders across a range of sectors experiencing burnout. There is a whole body of research and writing around post-pandemic (if that’s what we truly are) burnout. Extraordinary leadership was required to keep business afloat and meet employees’ needs while also managing personal and family demands. Leaders truly rose the challenge, but the period of crisis lasted so long that exhaustion was inevitable. As a recruiter, I talk to leaders every day who are simply tired. It’s hard to imagine taking on a new challenge in this state, and it’s hard to remain inspired or be inspiring to others. Whether you are a jobseeker, a manager, or both, it’s critical to acknowledge any signs of burnout you’re experiencing and take steps toward self-care. The road ahead is still uncertain, but there is one thing we know for sure: Leadership will be needed.
The trends outlined above certainly represent significant challenges. But they also represent opportunities to bring in new leadership and perspectives, think about new ways of working and building culture, and be creative and thoughtful about supporting leaders who are coming out of an extraordinarily stressful period. Whether you’re looking for a new role or seeking to hire, be aware of the factors impacting recruiting right now, so you can position yourself to leverage opportunities and respond to challenges.
Molly Brennan is founding partner and executive vice president of Koya Partners, part of Diversified Search Group; managing partner and nonprofit practice lead at Diversified Search Group; and author of the 2019 report The Governance Gap: Examining Diversity and Equity on Nonprofit Boards of Directors. Her focus areas include leadership, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.