At the start of 2020, it was hard to imagine how much the world and the workplace were about to change. Soon businesses everywhere would need to pivot and adjust business practices amid a global pandemic. Less than a year later, social distancing, mask-wearing, and remote work have become commonplace, and organizations now view hiring and managing talent through a new lens.

In 2021, job seeker preferences and organizational needs will continue to evolve, requiring a novel approach to competing for best-fit talent. Here are the top trends that will influence your hiring success in 2021:

Job seeker preferences for remote work
Employees in traditional office positions have been working from home for almost a year now. At the same time, organizations have identified new ways to keep employees engaged and productive, regardless of their location. As the pandemic persists into 2021, many employees will prefer to keep working from home. A recent PWC survey found that 72 percent of employees would like to work remotely at least two days a week after the pandemic. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said they would prefer never to go back to the office. Therefore, to attract the desired quality and quantity of candidates, it will be necessary to offer flexible work options that appeal to evolving candidate preferences.

Virtual interviewing and onboarding
It’s no surprise that virtual hiring and onboarding have grown in popularity during the pandemic. According to Gartner, 86 percent of organizations are using virtual technology to interview candidates during the pandemic. However, while virtual hiring activities may have been a temporary solution for some, they will likely become a permanent component of the talent acquisition toolkit. Activities such as video interviewing, virtual hiring events, and paperless onboarding offer more flexibility and ways to engage candidates who will be increasingly remote. Over time, it will simply be more cost-effective to interview, hire, and onboard candidates with the aid of virtual recruiting technology.

Renewed focus on diversity and inclusion
The social justice movements of 2020 spurred many organizations to take a fresh look at existing diversity and inclusion efforts and commit to doing more. Building a diverse workplace isn’t just a good business practice, but it will also help to attract candidates in 2021 and beyond. According to a Monster poll, 62 percent of candidates said they would turn down a job offer at a company they didn’t feel values workplace diversity. To demonstrate the commitment to diversity and inclusion, organizations will need to show candidates the actions they are taking to make it a priority, for example, through employer branding on social channels, recruiting sites, and job postings.

The need for adaptability and other new skills
One of the consistent themes of the pandemic has been the rapid pace of change. Organizations wanting to manage change successfully and meet evolving customer expectations will need to seek highly adaptable and self-motivated job candidates. According to a new Deloitte study, surveyed executives identified “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles” as the most important factor in navigating future challenges. Hiring in 2021 will require a search for candidates with the necessary technical skills, as well as highly adaptable candidates with a flair for problem-solving and innovation.

A growing contingent workforce
As we move into 2021, there are likely to be more available freelancers to fill project-based and short-term talent gaps. According to a July 2020 Upwork survey, 36 percent of the American workforce had performed freelance work in the previous 12 months. The study also found that 58 percent of non-freelancers are now considering freelancing in the future. As the pool of available freelancers grows and employers become more comfortable using them, the contingent workforce will yield more candidates for short and long-term positions.

Change is inevitable, and in 2021, we will surely see more of it. As your hiring plans begin to take shape this year, keep an eye on how these five trends will impact your recruitment strategy and activities.