2021 Hiring Trends Report

2020 has been a year unlike any other. Unless you’ve been living under a rock – in which case, we envy you! – you’re familiar with the effect COVID-19 has had on the American job market. 

Businesses have spent the past 9 months adapting their hiring and recruiting methods in response to the pandemic, so we surveyed employers across various industries to find the answers to a few key questions:

  • How did COVID-19 affect companies’ 2020 hiring plans?
  • Did companies create any brand new roles specifically for COVID-19?
  • To what degree have businesses pivoted to remote hiring practices since the beginning of the pandemic?
  • Which COVID-inspired changes to the hiring process do businesses plan to keep implementing in 2021? 
  • What changes have been made to recruiting strategies as a result of COVID-19? 
  • What is the overall outlook for hiring in 2021?

Take an in-depth look at the responses from our survey by downloading the 2021 Hiring Trends Report.

2021 Hiring Trends Report

CareerPlug surveyed industry experts about hiring trends that have emerged as a result of COVID-19. Learn which trends are here to stay in 2021.


Key Takeaways

These are the most significant findings from our analysis: 

1. Most businesses have adopted remote hiring methods. 

The percentage of businesses that say all of their hiring is conducted in-person has decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March (from 44% to 28.3%). Conversely, the percentage of businesses that have switched to fully remote hiring methods has increased by 6 times since March. Lastly, 71% of businesses have integrated some degree of remote hiring methods.

2. COVID-19 inspired changes to the hiring process that many businesses plan on keeping.

61% of businesses made changes to their hiring process during COVID-19 that they plan to keep implementing in 2021. Some examples include video interviews, electronic onboarding and training, recruiting in new regions for fully remote positions, and using hiring software to better evaluate candidates at the top of the hiring funnel.

3. Most businesses have not slowed down their hiring, despite revenue losses.

38.9% of businesses said their hiring plans did not change as a result of COVID-19, while 20.8% said they hired for more positions than planned. When we consider that nearly 45% of companies in our survey reported revenue losses in 2020, it’s an optimistic sign that most still haven’t slowed down hiring. This could indicate that businesses are confident they can reach their 2021 revenue goals by rounding out their teams with the necessary hires. 

Remote Hiring Methods Are Here to Stay

When asked what COVID-19 hiring methods or tools they plan to keep using in 2021, hiring managers responded:

  • More extensive phone screenings
  • Pre-qualification questions and assessments
  • Video interviews on platforms like Zoom 
  • PPE (such as masks) and social distancing for in-person interviews
  • Electronic/paperless onboarding 
  • Virtual orientation practices (Powerpoint presentations, training videos, etc.)

Remote Hiring: Home & Commercial Services

Even businesses that are traditionally not conducive to remote work have made efforts to adapt to the new normal. Take, for example, the Home & Commercial Services industry. Sara Cooper, Chief People Officer at Jobber, offered this insight into how the industry is adapting to remote hiring practices:

“When it comes to remote hiring, home service businesses have unique challenges. They’re moving from job to job, entering people’s homes, and doing physically demanding labor. And there’s been a long-held tradition of one-on-one training to get them onboarded into these processes. What may work for an all-digital firm may not work for a hands-on trade business.”

“Despite these challenges, more home service businesses are implementing digital processes for remote work, which reveals their openness to making that same shift in hiring.

“We’ve seen home service entrepreneurs send their administrative home with laptops and headsets so they can continue communicating with customers. Others are using scheduling and client communication apps to book jobs remotely, create virtual estimates, and send customers notifications about their arrival times. And many have switched entirely to contactless payments, minimizing their accounts receivable and risk of exposure.”

Remote Hiring: SaaS Companies

Tools that help people communicate and manage teams remotely have seen a surge as lockdowns caused by Covid-19 forced many companies to implement remote working practices. “At the end of the first quarter of 2020, we experience significant growth in user demand for our services,” shared Owen Jones, a Senior Content Marketer at Zoomshift.

Other technology companies experienced similar patterns of growth in demand. The most notable example is Zoom, which saw steady and significant growth in its userbase and share price in 2020 and 2021. Other online business communication platforms like RingCentral experienced similar growth during this period.

The growth many SaaS businesses have experienced over this period means many companies will be unable to host all of their staff in offices when things eventually return to normal. In all likelihood, this will result in a continued shift towards a work environment in which coming into the office a few days a week and increasingly working from home is the norm in the software technology sector.

New Roles Created During COVID-19

The majority of companies have not created new positions as a result of COVID-19. But for the 14% of businesses that have, many of those new roles come with duties focused on mitigating the risk of COVID-19’s spread, such as COVID Guidelines Associate in the Home & Commercial Services industry and Virtual Administrative Assistant in the Insurance & Financial Services industry.

New Roles: Home & Commercial Services

Moly Milosovic, Community Marketing Manager at Jobber, had this to say about one popular new role created in the home services industry:

“One new role we’ve seen emerge is Social Media Salesperson. During the pandemic, home service businesses have had to find ways to sell their services 24/7, online. And at the same time, consumer expectations are changing. Customers don’t want to call 3-4 different companies throughout the day to discuss quotes. They want to message someone on Facebook or Instagram and book a job right there. The businesses that have adapted best to this are hiring sales employees who know how to communicate online and can meet customers where they are—even if that’s on Facebook at 8 p.m.”

New Roles: Restaurants

Restaurant owners have created a variety of new positions, such as:

  • Sign Spinner: This role can help on-the-ground marketing efforts to make people aware that a restaurant is open, particularly when take-out only restaurants might appear closed.
  • Guest Service Attendant: Duties include informing guests upon arriving how to dine safely according to health and local COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Delivery-related roles: Restaurant scheduling software company 7shifts has tracked trends in new restaurant roles created since March 2020 as a result of COVID-19 and has found a 243% increase in delivery-related roles, such as “driver” and “delivery driver.”

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