The Fastest-Growing Skills for Recruiters — and Why They Matter

December 9, 2020

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Recruiting underwent several massive shifts in 2020 — many of which fundamentally changed how talent professionals thought about and approached their jobs. Relationships with hiring managers developed into deeper partnerships. Diversity and inclusion came to the forefront. Flexibility became essential. 

This transformation naturally had an impact on the skills that recruiting leaders value in their teams. The Future of Recruiting report explored the fastest growing skills for recruiters, based on the increased share of global recruiting professionals who listed these skills on their LinkedIn profiles in 2020, compared to 2019. The table below outlines the skills that saw the biggest uptick this year, with personal development topping the list:

  • Fastest growing skills for recruiters in 2020  Personal development +44% Diversity & inclusion +42% Talent pipelining +37% Decision-making +34% HR strategy +30% *Insights from LinkedIn

As recruiting continues to evolve, these skills are likely to become even more important. So, to help you decide where best to invest your time when it comes to learning and development, let’s take a closer look at each of these skills — and some LinkedIn Learning courses to help you get started. 

1. Personal development skills grew 44% among recruiting professionals

The past year has presented employees across all fields with no end of new challenges and experiences. In this landscape where change was the only constant, it makes sense that the #1 fastest growing skill among recruiting professionals was personal development: the skill of being able to learn new skills. 

Recruiters recognize just how critical this kind of adaptability will be in the future. The share of recruiting professionals listing personal development skills on their profile rose 44% in 2020. And given a choice of 13 soft skills, the majority (53%) of respondents said that adaptability will be the #1 recruiter skill for 2021.

  • #1 recruiter skill for the next year: Adaptability according to talent professionals surveyed  *Insights from LinkedIn

2020 certainly gave recruiters an opportunity to practice adaptability and develop new skills — from adjusting to video interviews to figuring out how to onboard new hires remotely. The talent market also underwent a major evolution virtually overnight, and the recruiters who were comfortable adapting on the fly were best prepared to navigate these changes — whether that meant rapidly ramping up recruiting efforts for essential roles or pivoting to focus on other areas while hiring was on pause.

“If you want to build cost-efficient talent acquisition teams, you need to make sure that people are more flexible, more adaptable, and that they can really change to the needs of the business,” says Candice De Clerck, global director of recruitment at Prosus Group. “Lots of companies have got boxes that people sit in. I think those boxes may start to dissipate over time.” 

Recommended course: Developing Your Emotional Intelligence

Personal development and emotional intelligence go hand-in-hand. Turn to this class with chartered psychologist Gemma Leigh Roberts to learn how developing emotional intelligence can help you become more adaptable and self-aware, improve workplace performance, and build more effective relationships.

2. Diversity and inclusion skills grew 42% among recruiting professions

As people around the world marched for racial justice and equity earlier this year, companies recognized that they needed to do more to ensure inclusive hiring processes and diversify their workforces. And since recruiters will play a crucial role in driving these efforts, they doubled down on diversity and inclusion (D&I), with skills in this area seeing 42% growth in 2020.

LinkedIn data also shows that 77% of talent professionals believe D&I will be very important to the future of recruiting in a post-COVID world. Recruiters acknowledge their role in turning their companies’ commitments to D&I into tangible actions by shaping and executing the strategy. And as the growth of D&I skills among recruiting professionals shows, they’re ready to put in the work to make this happen. 

“I think it's super important that every single recruiter have an elevated capability when it comes to working in these spaces,” Aaron Mitchell, director of HR for Netflix Animation Studios, said in a recent LinkedIn Live webinar. “[That way] every recruiter is a diversity recruiter, so diversity recruitment should just be recruitment.”

Recommended course: Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Pat Wadors, chief people officer at Procore, explains why diversity and inclusion efforts should embrace a third pillar — belonging, which helps make each individual feel accepted at work for who they are.

3. Talent pipelining skills grew 37% among recruiting professions

In previous years, many recruiters were dedicated to bringing time to hire down as much as possible. In 2020, when hiring paused or slowed at countless companies, talent professionals had to rethink their strategy — focusing instead on building and strengthening relationships with promising candidates for future roles. 

As a result, talent pipelining skills grew 37% among recruiting professionals in 2020. But even if hiring needs return to pre-COVID levels next year, this skill will likely serve recruiters well in the future, with 71% of talent professionals saying that nurturing talent and building pipelines is becoming an increasingly important component of their role. Whether it’s establishing trust with untapped and overlooked communities or giving yourself a headstart with hard-to-fill positions, the ability to build and maintain relationships with candidates over longer periods will not go out of style.

“If you don’t have active roles that you want to consider someone for, make sure that’s clear up front,” recommends John Karas, a recruiter on the executive search team at LinkedIn. “This is about building a relationship longer term and it’s important to make it very candidate-centric.” 

Recommended course: Building a Talent Pipeline from New Recruits to Leadership

In this paid course, you’ll learn how to recruit and evaluate candidates according to their leadership potential and suitability for the job at hand, creating a talent pipeline that grows with your company. Includes videos from leading industry leaders, such as Josh Bersin, James Citrin, Linda Hill, and more.

4. Decision-making skills grew 34% among recruiting professions

From deciding which candidates to move forward with to weighing in on the final hiring decision, recruiters have always needed good judgment. But in recent years, many have become more aware of just how pivotal their role is in ensuring the right candidates are hired, which could explain why decision-making skills grew 34% among recruiting professionals in 2020. 

This has coincided with an increased emphasis on the role of the recruiter as a strategic advisor to the business. Today, recruiting is less about following instructions given by others and more about working closely with various stakeholders to create a plan of action and see it through. That means recruiters aren’t just responsible for their own decisions, but for driving good decision-making across the board. 

“If you don't have an accountability mechanism,” says John Vlastelica, founder and managing director of Recruiting Toolbox, “you are not going to hire great people. What a waste of money to train everyone in behavioral interviewing or whatever, and then end up with no accountability in the room when we're making [hiring] decisions.” 

Recommended course: Critical Thinking for Better Judgment and Decision-Making

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the deluge of information you receive on a daily basis, this class can help you cut through the noise and use critical thinking to make the best decisions for you and your team.

5. HR strategy skills grew 30% among recruiting professions

Another aspect of acting as a strategic advisor to your company is helping to set the HR strategy — like analyzing talent pool data to identify and recommend areas where the company might look for remote hires. 69% of respondents felt advising the business on workforce planning is becoming increasingly important for talent professionals, and HR strategy skills grew 30% in 2020. 

Influencing and advising on HR strategy requires more than just expertise. To leverage this skillset effectively, recruiters will need to focus on forging strategic partnerships with stakeholders across the business, rooted in trust.

“With trust, it allows [recruiters] to really influence crucial areas — such as advocating for diversity and inclusion — by understanding, promoting, articulating, and influencing strategies,” says Dan Clarkson, director of talent acquisition at LinkedIn. “As a trusted advisor, we can leverage data to develop insights and inform the business how to best address the talent market at a strategic level.”

Recommended course: Why Trust Matters

In this class, best-selling author and Oxford University Trust Fellow Rachel Botsman reveals the ways trust shapes our personal and professional lives. Learn tips for earning the trust of others and developing a culture rooted in its benefits — plus find out what can cause trust to break down and how to repair it.

Final thoughts

Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought, the new skills that have come out of it will help recruiters in years to come — making it easier for them to earn a seat at the table and do what’s right for their companies and candidates alike. 

As this difficult year draws to a close, use this list to plot your team’s learning and development priorities for 2021. It’s impossible to predict everything the future will hold, but these skills should give your team a solid foundation.

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