HR Recruitment Trends in 2021

What a difference a year makes.

As the end of our financial year draws to a close, I thought it prudent to reflect on an exceptional last 12 months.

To say we have gone from strength to strength would be an understatement.

I don’t think it’s hugely surprising that the Human Resources function has been especially robust with regards to the ravaging effects the pandemic has had on business.

HR teams across the globe have played critical roles in organisations’ responses to Covid-19.

In terms of the UK, the various changes to rules – often at short notice – have meant HR functions have had to be incredibly agile.

In our recent event, brilliantly hosted by Helen Gopsill, we looked at employee engagement, something that is particularly pertinent with the latest stage of people returning to work.

Like HR teams, recruitment has never been busier, with all sectors hiring

The graphic below shows which areas we have successfully placed candidates into in the last 12 months.

It’s no real surprise that the consumer sector has been so active in the last 12 months.

Lockdowns hit retail and leisure with devastating effects, but the demand for talent in these areas as a result of the economic bounce back as lockdowns eased has been exceptional, with good HR talent in extraordinary demand.

The financial and professional services and industrial spaces have been similarly busy with organisations looking to push on at pace.

Within the public sector arena, we have seen demand for HR professionals, especially in the third sector, with charities also hit very hard by the pandemic.

Finally, it is perhaps unsurprising that the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors have been quieter this year – HR professionals in this space were crucial in helping pharmaceutical organisations keep going during the pandemic and therefore perhaps the demand for hiring has been lower in the last year in this sector.

 What HR roles have been in demand?

The above graphic shows the areas of HR we have seen particular demand for in the last year, with our largest number of placements coming in four clear areas:

  • Talent and Recruitment
  • Business Partners
  • Reward
  • People roles

It will come as no shock to anyone in the HR profession to hear that Talent Acquisition professionals have been in incredibly high demand – across all sectors, people with recruitment backgrounds and experience have arguably become the most in-demand professionals in the HR world, as organisations struggle to recruit people into their business.

The ‘war on talent’ and the ‘great resignation’ have been two of the hottest recruitment topics in recent months, with organisations keen to both attract and retain individuals, it is no surprise that People and Reward roles have also been highly in demand.

Let’s look at a snapshot of the seniority of HR roles we have placed this year:

  • HR Director – 17%
  • HR Business Partner – 17%
  • HR Manager – 22%

There has clearly been a continued need for HR professionals who implement and drive strategy across businesses, something that I believe will continue over the next year at least.

What has the wider market looked like?

Based on almost 500 HR job adverts, the following roles saw the most demand:

  • HR Business Partners – 8%
  • HR Directors – 8%
  • Learning & Development Managers – 8%
  • Talent & Recruitment Specialists – 9%
  • HR Managers – 13%

As Senior HR Recruitment Specialists, it’s clearly pleasing to see such a high demand for talent. It’s also satisfying to see the team achieving such a high percentage of successful HR Director placements this year.

The wider market shows a gulf between the demand for contractors and permanent hires – which is perhaps unsurprising, with talent in such demand organisations are having to go above and beyond to attract and land talent, and we are always happy to advise on the best approach to achieve the desired result.

*Data based on 494 advertised HR roles 1 April 2021 – 30 March 2022

What do people and organisations we’ve helped say?

“HR Heads were great to work with, very honest and delivered quality candidates.” – Recruitment Manager, Consumer

“HR Heads are exceptional. True professionals who strive for excellence. I’ve never had such a positive recruitment process, and the support they offered to me was second to none. They are an absolute joy to work with, really understood me, and took the time to build a credible and supportive relationship. This is what recruitment should be.” – Director of Global Talent, Consumer

“I’ve worked with a number of recruiters over the years – and as someone with a recruitment background, I can honestly say that HR Heads have been an absolute pleasure to partner with and exceeded my jaded expectations. From the start they took the time to understand my needs, managed my expectations, kept me well informed throughout the process and above all ensured that I felt (and that we were) supported – and they connected me with some brilliant candidates when I was beginning to lose hope given the high demand for HR professionals right now. Thank you!” – Hiring Manager, Public Sector

What will the next financial year look like?

Clearly, the challenges we, and HR teams, have faced in the last two years have never been greater.

The last 12 months have offered real glimmers of hope, with businesses able to open their doors again and people once more allowed to work in the office.

However, this doesn’t come without challenges, and employee engagement will be an increasingly hot topic over the next year.

Roles in this space will be at a premium and those will a good track record for delivery will be in high demand.

Talent Acquisition Specialists will continue to be keenly sought after – as companies hit by the ‘great resignation’ look to onboard staff.

And, finally, Reward professionals will be crucial for organisations looking to retain their best talent and help cement culture.

If you are looking to bring in anyone in these, or any HR role for that matter, please do get in contact to see how we can support you on that journey.