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Tech Hiring Trends for 2021 and Beyond

By Sachin Gupta, CEO of HackerEarth

2020 has been a catalyzing year for hiring across industries, but especially for tech roles. The hiring process, which was once dominated by in-person interviews, has become remarkably flexible as organizations embrace remote hiring practices. As we head into 2021, the trends that began during the pandemic will only accelerate. Here are the top 5 trends in tech hiring for 2021 and beyond:

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1. Expect a Surge in Hiring

Given the way hiring is going, 60-70% of organizations will be at pre-COVID-19 hiring levels by the beginning of 2021. But they’ll need to make up for lost time. Even organizations in industries not negatively impacted by the pandemic had a wait-and-see hiring strategy in the early days of the outbreak. According to a Fortune survey, 59% of CEOs enacted hiring freezes during the pandemic.

These hiring freezes will eventually need to be made up for on the backend, which means we should expect a surge in hiring over the next several months. In fact this surge is already happening, and in Q3 2020, HackerEarth saw a 250% YoY increase in remote assessments and a 4,000% YoY increase in remote interviews conducted on FaceCode. Recruiting teams need to be prepared for higher volumes, and they will spend more time sourcing, screening, and interviewing talent moving forward.

2. Remote Hiring is Here to Stay

Tech and IT hiring has historically always stayed close to the HQ. Groupon, for example, has traditionally been hesitant to hire tech talent outside of the Chicago area, and in its early years, it was one of the “primary bastions of tech hiring in Chicago” according to ChicagoInno. However, for many organizations, the scope and scale of tech hiring is beginning to open up.

Tech talent has proven itself to be remarkably well-suited for remote work, and, due to a persistent skill-gap, geographically-unspecific hiring has been a godsend to many organizations that desperately need to attract tech talent. There’s now a bigger pool of talent that can work from anywhere and assessing them remotely has never been easier. I expect remote interviews to remain the primary means of recruiting for at least the next 6 months, and some organizations may never go back. In fact, according to a survey of hiring managers, one-fifth of the global workforce could be completely remote after the pandemic, largely enabled by remote hiring.

3. Tech Talent Will Diversify

Despite the geographic freedom that now exists in tech hiring, current visa conditions make it very difficult to bring in international talent. The new administration may change the hiring climate, but we’ll have to wait until post-January to see specific policies in this regard.

There’s still a strong preference for industry backgrounds over academic backgrounds, which means that individuals with post-docs in data science, for example, still have trouble finding a job. Meanwhile bias against those with no degree whatsoever persists. Recruiters clearly still have biases and strict selection patterns, but they are starting to change. Companies can create a more diverse talent pool by prioritizing skills over degrees. For example, the White House recently signed an executive order that requires the federal government to prioritize hiring for skills over a college degree. Expect a more inclusive and diverse hiring environment in 2021 as these biases begin to shift in the face of overwhelming demand and new government policies.

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4. No-Code / Low-Code Platforms Will Specialize Roles

No-code and low-code solutions allow organizations to develop applications with very little developer skill required. According to Gartner, “by 2023, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have adopted a low-code application platform.” As these platforms mature, it will certainly impact the type of talent organizations are looking to hire. Expect for these solutions to begin shifting the distribution of tech talent away from generalists and towards specialists. As more simple and general tasks can be completed by non-tech individuals, specialization will be an even higher value-add. Many companies are still in the early stages of adoption, but they are evaluating the platforms in conjunction with the tech teams they already have. Most don’t plan on replacing these teams with No / Low Code solutions, so this could have an outsized impact on future tech talent.

5. Hiring Assessments Are Moving Towards L&D and Continuous Learning

Learning and Development (L&D) has exploded during COVID-19, as organizations look for new digital tools to keep their workforce engaged and in a constant state of upskilling. This is especially true in the tech world, where new languages, technologies, and skill sets are constantly being updated. For example, in the summer of 2019, online learning platform, Coursera, had 43 million users. Today, that number is 73 million. However, courses are only content, and they don’t assess talent.

We’ve heard from customers that there’s a real need for the ability to continuously assess talent beyond initial screenings or interviews. These assessments can help employers create guided training and upskilling initiatives on an ongoing basis. This is likely a huge area of growth moving forward.

Where the Tech Will Take Us in 2021

Organizations will be in a completely different hiring environment in 2021 than they were a year ago. They will face a surge in hiring as they look to make up for lost time. More organizations have seen the benefits of remote hiring, and many could keep remote interviews a part of their hiring process well after the pandemic. This will open up a more diverse pool of talent, and the skills needed will shift as new platforms like No / Low Code gain momentum. Finally, organizations will shift assessments from merely the hiring process into a more robust and comprehensive L&D and continuous learning program to keep remote employees engaged.

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