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What’s going to happen in 2021? If I knew the answer for certain then I could be a very rich man, but having spoken to many CTOs, Heads of and CEOs over the past 6 months, I can see certain trends that are likely to take place.

I can see a few things happening:

  • Data keeps growing
  • Large Tech programmes focus on:
    - Automation
    - Consolidation
  • Hiring takes longer and more time for the hiring manager
  • Top-level personnel movement starts happening again around the start of Q3

Data Keeps Growing – I predict that the market we have a real foothold in, Data Engineering and Analytics, will to continue to grow. The pure and simple reason for this is the value these teams offer the business continue to outweigh their cost.

These teams process old data, make it valuable, and then provide insights into how the business should change/become more efficient / alter their products / or target their marketing. The impact of the above will be an increase in efficiency/productivity, and also an increase in sales. It also helps you to invest wisely in the future of the business. In a downturn such as this, that is invaluable.

Large Tech Programmes – there will be fewer, but some will still have to take place, and the focus of these is shifting.
There seem to be two core areas that companies are focussing their tech budgets:

1. Automation
The more manual processes that are automated, the more manual hours are saved. Legal and PropTech has seen a huge growth in document automation and NLP so that many billable hours previously spent on administration can be redistributed to earn the company more money

2. Consolidation
Also, a lot of organisations are currently supporting multiple systems, often crossing over with one another, that leads to high tech support costs and fewer efficiency gains.

As such, I would expect to see companies that had planned for ERP implementations or other large scale system consolidation programmes to continue towards that end goal because the value is there for the business for the next 10+ years

If you’re a hirer – will 2021 be a good time for hiring?

In a word, No. It could take longer to hire and have to do many more interviews to find the right candidates if you don’t approach it the right way.
If you’re one of the luckier companies that are growing teams, then are you picking from a huge pool of options? Most definitely, but are the options any better than 2019? Probably worse if anything.
The best staff are more often than not being retained, the ones that are flooding the market are the ones that added the least value to their previous company, and so would they be that valuable to you? Potentially not.
Not only that, but the better candidates may also be less keen to leave/require a higher than usual salary increase to consider leaving due to the perceived risk associated – people just are not moving roles as regularly at the moment until the economy is back and firing.
As such I would predict slower hiring times than usual to get the right person, and more time spent meeting people that don’t hit the mark, or if they are hired they may well take longer / more coaching attention from the manager to pass their probation.

This is the prediction, but you don’t have to stick to the trend. What can you do to counter this? That’s where working with an agency really can help. I know, you groan thinking that “of course an agency will say that” but here are the reasons.
At the moment, many companies will be reducing Agency spend and encouraging hiring internally. Whilst that is a great move for some roles when you get to niche positions, the value can be found going straight to using an agency. Agencies should be taking references on candidates, which can prove a candidate’s suitability for a role and can then be passed on to hiring managers before you spend your valuable time meeting / assessing candidates.
We can also sift through large volumes of candidates and narrow that pool down to send to you rather than you being inundated by 200 responses to an advert.
If your agency understands the role well enough then they will be able to provide access to candidates they trust and are higher quality than those in the open market, and should be connected to passive candidates that are waiting for the next “right move” not just any move. 
So whilst I predict that the recruitment process on average will be slow, there are definitely ways to ensure they still move quickly.

Higher-level roles will start to move again come Summer / Autumn.

I would predict that with growing confidence by Summertime and with a predicted “bounce back economy” taking place due to so much bottled up spend, clients will start to look at changes at the top.

At the moment, clients are not hiring Senior positions regularly because a new Senior role suggests a change in strategy from the top. Economic downturns are not times to necessarily embark in a complete change in strategy. However, upon bouncing back it may be viewed as a good time to make some changes. With that in mind, companies may start opening up new Strategic roles or replacing senior people. With movement comes movement, and as New Senior people shuffle around from company to company, their new strategies will also encourage recruitment further down the pyramid which will likely lead to an increase in hiring by the end of 2021/ early 2022 for the lower-level positions.

Naturally, these are only my predictions for the state of the world and I certainly won’t be staking my hard-earned cash on any of these coming through given the volatile nature of the world over the last 12 months, but hopefully, it will be a more fruitful year for everyone.


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