5 Ways 2020 Changed the Job Search Forever, According to Recruiters

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 30, 2024 at 3:5PM UTC

2020 has seen numerous transformations in the way we work. But what about the way we hire? 

We reached out to hiring professionals about their thoughts on the biggest changes to the job search they believe are here to stay after 2020 and its tumultuous events. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Geographic ranges will expand thanks to increased remote work.

“I think the biggest change will be the willingness to hire people who will permanently work remotely,” Meghan Titzer, a Director of Product Development, said. “I've already seen that at my own company and others, previously ‘staid’ insurance companies that had 90% of people in-person in the office and looked suspiciously at remote work. This has greatly expanded our hiring pool for the better. Now we just need to take advantage of advertising our open postings in more geographies, which my company and others really haven't had to do before. Hopefully, we'll be successful!”

2. “Nice to have” skill sets will become must-haves.

Human Resources Vice President Jacquelyn Lloyd believes that many of the traits that were previously pluses will be mandatory in 2021. “My clients are looking for candidates who can demonstrate adaptivity, show excellent communication skills, have high emotional intelligence and are self-motivated,” she said. “I expect to see an increase in remote interviewing, even for positions in a co-located working space.”

3. “Generalists” will be in-demand.

“In my research on the skills that employers are looking for in the future, I have found that employers are placing even greater emphasis on cognitive flexibility skills like creativity and adaptability,” Founder & CEO Jennifer Scott Mobley wrote. “Yet in the interviews I have conducted, I have found that what employers are looking for is not quite a skill but rather an approach and way of thinking. Breadth of perspective and the ability to connect the proverbial dots (the domain of generalists) is likely to be as important as depth of expertise and the ability to generate dots (the domain of specialists) in the future.”

She calls this idea “The rise of the generalist.” 

“My advice is to manage your career by cultivating a generalist approach and obtaining a diversity of geographic and functional experiences,” she wrote. “Think about how seemingly unrelated developments may impact each other, something that systems thinkers do naturally. Study the interconnections across industries and imagine how changes in one domain can disrupt operations in another one. Because generalists have a set of tools to draw from, they enjoy experimenting with new things and are able to consider multiple concepts simultaneously, and they are able to dynamically adjust their course of action as a situation evolves, which leads to generative and creative solutions."

4. Hiring professionals will prioritize soft, human skills.

“There will always be new sought-after skills that employers will be searching for,” HR Specialist Ellysa Smith agreed. “In 2020 we saw an increase in technical digital transformation skills, virtual team building, and diversity and inclusion consultants, for example. Other popular sought-after skills are overall well-being/mental health and empathetic leadership. I do expect that as we increase reliance on technology as we have in 2020, more emphasis will be placed on softer human skills. We can all say we witnessed how empathy, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, and creativity were soft skills that increased in demand and capacity.”

5. Remote — and more casual — hiring practices will persist.

“I think that interviews will remain remote until we get this virus under control,” said Katrina McNair, a Director. “There is no reason to risk people's lives unnecessarily….Hiring will be more casual and less expedited since most people are out of work and they are with their families. Unless an organization requires a potential employee to dress appropriately, then they won't [need to] wear professional attire.”

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