The Scoop: Recruitment Trends & Industry Insights | March 2021

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Here is your March guide to the latest trends impacting the world of work. Every month, we provide perspective on the biggest news affecting the industry and explain what to expect as new trends continue to emerge.

Improving Gender Representation in the Workforce is at Risk; Recent Government Intervention Could Help.

Just a year ago we were in a strong economy with a record low unemployment rate, and one of the biggest challenges for employers was talent competition and job hopping. 

Now, a year later, with a talent market still feeling the impact of the pandemic recession and with job growth rising but still not at pace with a return to full employment, new research shows a reduced comfort in switching jobs in the next 12 months, with concerns of Last In, First Out (LIFO, or “Last one hired is the first one fired”), top of mind. 

The higher representation of women in hard-hit sectors, such as hospitality, has resulted in a higher percentage of women concerned about career switching and job loss than men. 

This uncertainty goes beyond seeking new job opportunities and may also impact areas of gender equity, such as asking for promotions, salary increases, or continued work-life flexibility – an important factor, as employers look to bring workers back into the office. Just 41% of men and 32% of women said they preferred to fully return to their pre-pandemic work location when the crisis is over.

Read more: [Indeed Hiring Lab]

This month, Congress passed the economic stimulus package, which, in addition to the financial support for the millions still out of work, includes a child tax credit – a guaranteed income of up to $300 a month for families under a financial threshold with young children. 

This monthly non-discretionary benefit comes at a time when the United States has seen a record increase of women leaving the workforce – 2.3 million women missing from the workforce as of February 2021, compared with about 1.8 million men – in part a result of greater family demands on women than on men, related to child care and school closures. 

Read more: [The New York Times]

Equitable gender representation in the workforce requires strategic direction to improve retention, promotion and hiring. In this moment, marketing to women requires more than just posting a job opportunity; instead, employers must understand the new realities, barriers and silent concerns about reentering the workforce or switching for the next opportunity. 

And as employers continue to develop back-to-office plans – determining hybrid models, new benefits, impact of “facetime” on factors such as promotion – additional attention will have to be paid to balancing this new work reality with business goals to improve gender equity and increase female representation in leadership roles. 

The Increase in Corporate AI Adoption During the Pandemic May Put CIOs in the Driver Seat to Roadmap Future Workforce Skills.

The pandemic has increased the rate at which corporations are investing in and adopting AI driven technology; these business decisions are directionally aligned with previous capital investments to improve efficiency during downturns

“A survey of 950 business decision-makers and/or IT decision-makers with at least a moderate amount of AI knowledge at companies with more than $1 billion in revenue … finds AI technologies are most likely to be moderately to fully employed in industrial manufacturing (93%), financial services (84%), technology (83%), retail (81%), life sciences (77%), healthcare (67%), and government (61%) sectors.

The speed of adoption has now arisen as a concern. An awareness of challenges with data privacy and issues of bias in AI, have led many corporate decision-makers to advocate for greater AI regulation and government oversight. AI models will have to be retrained to keep pace with business changes, and most companies are not yet equipped to handle that level of change at speed and scale.

Read more: [Venture Beat]

An acceleration of investment in AI and automation technology often triggers the unfounded fear of robots taking over jobs. However, history shows that by and large there is a greater likelihood of work augmentation versus worker supplantation.   

Innovation and the evolution of work have been factors of our industrialized economy for quite some time. To meet the demands of the 4th industrial revolution, CIOs who possess an in-depth understanding of tech advancements could play a critical role in helping companies build a roadmap for future workforce needs. This role in an organization is uniquely positioned to understand the rate of technological advancement, the impact to their specific industry, and the conditions that need to exist to fully realize the benefit of the new technology.

Read more: [Market Screener]

With millions of Americans still out of work, and as companies invest in training and upskilling their current workforce to realize the efficiency of tech investment, displaced workers may have an awareness disadvantage – a barrier to knowledge of the skills that will be most marketable in their industry. 

Some companies are meeting that challenge by creating open source training programs or partnering with massive open online courses (MOOCs) to provide educational opportunities. If employers are grappling with a workforce more reluctant to switch jobs in the next 12 months, tapping into the pool of less traditional candidates may be more necessary to account for need in the short run. Employers would need to segment their candidate pools by skill maturity level to deliver the appropriate communication and build relationships over time.

Data Tug of War: Personalize the Experience Versus the Demand for Greater Control

Popularized in 2008, the Nudge theory gained greater notoriety as tech companies sought to use machine learning algorithms to scale specific user behavior. Social media platforms notwithstanding, nudge interventions are often developed to influence behavior to the benefit of society as whole; however, there are often unintended consequences to the individual.  

Recent research explores two ways nudges can be personalized: through choice or through delivery. In the context of the world of work, the former could consist of automating a nudge based on point in the candidate journey – for job seekers who have been to the career site but not yet started the application process, a message about coming back to learn more, and for those who have started the application process, but not finished, a message about completing the application. Delivery nudges focuses on how someone is incentivized (default or social norms) – a reminder to complete an application versus creating urgency by providing a nudge about the deadline or the volume of applicants. 

The key to successfully building out these interventions (and the difficulty) is understanding the nudge specific segments of candidates would be more receptive to, which requires personal data (e.g., social media, personality data, etc.) appropriate for the context. 

Read more: [Behavioral Scientist]

User data has long been a commodity. As news about Google’s decision to kill off the third-party tracking cookie brings palpitations to the ad tech market, the full effect of this decision remains to be seen; my money is on necessity continuing to be the mother of invention. 

While Google’s decision is not directly correlated, this past year has brought a heightened level of skepticism and distrust in many institutions. The public, now increasingly aware of big tech’s consumption and use of their data, is being encouraged to “poison” their data. Beyond ad blockers, researchers have proposed three tactics:

  • Data strikes, inspired by the idea of labor strikes, which involve withholding or deleting your data so a tech firm cannot use it – leaving a platform or installing privacy tools, for instance.
  • Data poisoning, which involves contributing meaningless or harmful data. AdNauseam, for example, is a browser extension that clicks on every single ad served to you, thus confusing Google’s ad-targeting algorithms.
  • Conscious data contribution, which involves giving meaningful data to the competitor of a platform you want to protest, such as by uploading your Facebook photos to Tumblr instead.

Building on the momentum of the past year’s collective resistance, the move is in recognition that one-off actions may not create change, but the power of a critical mass just might. 

Read more: [MIT Technology Review] 

The downstream implications could suggest a more complicated market for employers at a moment when most are focused on automated targeted marketing strategies. The cost structure for obtaining user-specific insights may look as it has in the past, incentivizing individuals to share their preferences. However, candidates may be more likely and willing to provide insights into their preferences as there is a long-term benefit (i.e., a job) in it for them. 


About Jahkedda Akbar Mitchell

Jahkedda has many years of experience providing strategic guidance, data, and insights on job-seeker trends in support of Radancy and its clients. She has also worked in-house on the candidate attraction team for a large fortune 500 company. Jahkedda has a passion for psychology and storytelling; understanding why we do what we do and how to change behaviors...only using her powers for good. Jahkedda is a member of Radancy Labs: a design thinking focused innovation lab.

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