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Recruiting in The 21st Century: What You Need to Know

Recruiting in The 21st Century: What You Need to Know

In this article, you’ll learn about evolving recruitment and talent acquisition strategies: the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the hiring process, how to optimize your employer branding, why inclusive recruitment matters, and how to make your organization’s DEI initiatives count.

Heidi Wassini |

The digital revolution has transformed recruitment as we know it. In the space of a decade, there’s been an immense shift away from traditional job websites to an innovative world of nouvel recruitment tools and techniques. For successful recruitment to take place, it’s essential that HR professionals fully embrace technological advancements with open arms. The practice of recruiting is becoming increasingly brand-orientated, and a strong employer brand is crucial for hiring, and retaining, top talent. Furthermore, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) practices are becoming increasingly paramount in the recruiting process. So, what exactly do all of these factors mean for recruiting in the digital age? In this article, we will take a look at the evolution of recruiting in the 21st century, explore how you can improve your recruitment processes, and stay up-to-date with evolving trends.

Recruiting And Hiring in The 21st Century - What Has Changed?

As society in the 21st century continues to advance, and attitudes shift, it’s imperative that companies stay cognizant of evolving employee needs and expectations. The days of employees ‘sticking it out’ in the same company for 30 plus years are arguably coming to an end, with new generations of Millennials and Gen-Zers entering the workforce and seeking out more varied experiences, shorter company stints, and flexible, adaptive work environments. In fact, younger generations have developed a reputation for job-hopping, and this is particularly prevalent with millennial employees. Unattached to organizations and institutions, people from this generation are said to move freely from company to company, more so than any other generation. A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21% of millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same. So, what does this mean for recruiting in the 21st century?

In order to not just entice young generations into a company, but also retain them, it’s essential that recruiting and hiring is executed with a strong employer brand in mind. So, how can companies convey an optimal brand identity to prospective employees and candidates? Keep on reading to discover my top tips.

Optimize Your Employer Brand

To attract and retain the best people, you need to ensure that public perception of your company is positive. Your ‘employer brand’ essentially equates to your reputation as an employer - and evidently, a poor company image is going to negatively impact your capacity for hiring and recruiting effectively. Employers across industries are turning their focus to their employer brand to understand how they are perceived online and how that perception affects recruiting, hiring, retention, and more.

In the past, companies could get away with, or at least minimize, poor public perception via tactical marketing ploys and strategic PR campaigns. However, in today’s digital world, companies simply cannot escape from negative employee reviews. Candidates are doing more research than ever before applying for roles, so it’s essential that a company’s online presence tells a positive story. In fact, modern candidates use an average of 16 research tools during the job hunt. The most important outcome of having a strong employer brand is that prospective employees will be more inclined to consider your company when applying for jobs. According to Glassdoor, 86% of HR professionals surveyed indicated recruitment is becoming more like marketing. After exploring the why of employer branding, let’s discuss how to create an effective employer brand.

First and foremost, create a compelling brand story. To begin, communication and transparency are crucial: communicate your company’s core values, and be transparent about your company culture. Prospective employees won’t want to start at a new company without any insights, so provide as much relevant and useful information as possible. Put yourself in the employee’s shoes: What would you like to know when applying for a position? Job specifications aside, it’s essential to create an in-depth description of work at your company:

  • What is the mission, vision, values, and culture of the company?
  • What employee development opportunities are available?
  • What kind of work-life balance, benefits, and vacation allowance does the company offer?
  • Does your company offer mental health and/or personal days?
  • What is your company’s work-from-home policy?

Transparency here is essential. Job seekers are becoming savvier about false promises - so if your company boasts unlimited vacation allowance, yet employee reviews point to a culture of being penalized for taking time off, it will become glaringly obvious that your company is not telling the true story.

Harness the power of the digital world to create a buzz around your company’s best attributes with blogs, vlogs, social media posts and more about your people, story and success. Also bear in mind that employee reviews and testimonials are a crucial deciding factor in applying for a position, or accepting a job offer - so be cognizant of how employees are reviewing the company, and make employee-centric decisions based on minimizing complaints, and eliciting a positive employee experience. A 2017 study by iCIMS titled "The Modern Job Seeker" found that nearly 1 in 3 workers have declined a job offer primarily because the company had negative online employer reviews, and this number is even higher among the millennial generation - 47% of millennials have declined a job offer because of negative reviews online.

Inclusive Recruitment Matters - Let’s Talk DEI

New generations have ushered in a growing interest in DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) matters, and companies are following suit. In fact, 76% of employees and job seekers report a diverse workforce as an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers, and this is especially true for Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ job seekers and employees. DEI is all about talent – attracting, growing, and retaining, and facilitating a culture and structures with equal conditions based on sustainable inclusive leadership. DEI practices are not just essential from a recruitment perspective, but also from an organizational lens: 

  • Companies with higher levels of gender diversity and with HR policies and practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover.
  • Thirty-five percent of an employee’s emotional investment in their work and 20% of their desire to stay at their organization is linked to feelings of inclusion.
  • According to one recent study, over a period of three years companies with higher diversity in management earned 38% more of their revenues, on average, from innovative products and services than those companies with lower diversity.
  • Organizations with inclusive business cultures and practices are 57.8% more likely to improve their reputations.

The statistics speak for themselves, but how can companies execute genuinely effective DEI policies into their recruitment processes? Firstly, let’s start with the basics - the channels in which your company recruits should be diverse, and should include diversity- centric resources (like LinkedIn Diversity Groups), conferences, colleges, and job boards. Secondly, it’s essential to take care when writing job descriptions. In many organizations, the hiring managers are tasked with writing job descriptions, but they haven’t necessarily been educated on how to do so using inclusive language. Language has the power to attract and retain certain candidates, and even genders, over others. For example, terms like “proven” and “under pressure” used in job ads tend to attract more male candidates. According to research by Textio - an AI-powered writing-enhancement service, companies that use gender-neutral descriptions receive a broader applicant pool and the position will be filled three weeks faster than jobs using biased language. When writing job descriptions, make sure to approach your writing from an inclusive lens, accounting for nuances in gendered language. These subtleties will make all the difference in attracting a diverse workforce.

Next, let’s talk about having a DEI Commitment Statement in your company’s job description.

Too often, we see generic, sweeping statements of what a company’s DEI commitment is. But are these statements truly genuine? When considering DEI, it’s important to ‘’show it, don’t say it’’- so your DEI initiatives should really go without saying. Think about specificities: In what ways does your company honour DEI policies? Why, and how important is this, and how does it translate into your company’s culture? Are there certain DEI milestones that your company has reached - and if not, is there a commitment in place to reach them? Really go beyond the surface and be genuine about your company’s commitment to honoring DEI. Once you get to the interviewing stage, you can also engage in DEI interview questions with your prospective candidates. DEI-focused interview questions also help hiring teams evaluate a candidate’s understanding of the values and importance of DEI, so be sure to include at least one DEI question in the suite of interview questions. Furthermore, when you talk about ‘culture fit’ throughout the recruitment process, make sure you are doing this in a way that includes - rather than excludes the individual. Rather than attempting to make your prospective employee fit into a ‘one size fits all’ box, think about their individuality and what this can bring to your company’s culture. I personally like the term cultural enrichment rather than culture fit - as it is more effective at keeping the core of culture, but making it fuller with individuality and personality.

How to Use Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process - How Can it Help?

AI for recruiting is the application of artificial intelligence to the talent acquisition process, where machine learning can learn to shortlist your ideal candidate, as well as automate manual tasks in the recruitment process. This technology is designed to streamline or automate some part of the recruiting workflow, especially repetitive, high-volume tasks. When it comes to recruiting techniques, artificial intelligence is already playing a huge role in the way businesses find new talent.It's rise has been so meteoric it’s being reported in the world’s leading media publications. For example, Forbes ran an article  titled How AI is Changing The Game For Recruiting. In this piece, it acknowledges recruitment is one of the toughest jobs modern businesses have. AI could alleviate a large proportion of the hard work, by streamlining long and tedious processes. But how exactly does this streamlining work, and what tools are going to lead the way? Here are few of the most powerful options:

Chatbots: Quickly access candidates, secure suitable candidates, and can direct them to the right role. They’re a reactive way of dealing with the masses of talent —already powerful, they have the potential to save recruiters a lot of time.

Sentiment analysis: Can be used to adjust job specs in the event of biased or off-putting language.

Talent rediscovery: With an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), AI can scan your data records and find previous candidates who fit the bill.

It’s imperative that recruiters and HR professionals take advantage of AI, and use its power to harness top talent acquisition.

Why Has “Recruitment” Changed to Talent Acquisition? And What’s The Difference, Anyway?

In recent years, there’s been a shift towards the practice of talent acquisition, but what exactly is it, and how does it differ from recruitment? To simplify these two terms, recruitment is traditionally about filling vacancies, whereas talent acquisition is an ongoing strategy to find specialists, leaders, or future executives for your company. Talent acquisition tends to focus on long-term human resources planning and finding appropriate candidates for positions that require a very specific skill set. So, what should your company be engaging in - talent acquisition or recruitment? Simply put, it depends on the needs of the organization. For example, companies that require new, and highly sought-after skills, such as IT and tech, should be concentrating on talent acquisition. Sharon Koifman, Founder and CEO of DistantJob, a recruiting firm specializing in placing virtual employees, states:

“With the rapid advancement of technology and the rise of highly specialized technology-related jobs, it’s safe to say that the IT and tech fields are in much greater need of a strong talent acquisition strategy than other fields.”

Others may believe that all industries should focus on talent acquisition rather than recruitment because acquisition builds a stronger company, fosters teamwork, and boosts productivity. While recruitment remains an important activity to fill immediate vacancies, talent acquisition is a long-term strategy to make hiring more efficient and more productive.


In order for companies to attract and retain the right candidates, it’s essential to keep up with rapidly changing advancements in the recruitment process. It no longer suffices to simply post a generic job description on a job board - without disclosing vital information such as your company’s corporate culture, employee benefits, work-life balance, vacation policy, etc. What’s more, companies can no longer ‘’get away with’’ posting a cookie-cutter DEI commitment statement - instead, they must take a ‘show it don’t say it’ approach to DEI initiatives.

Companies also need to solidify an effective employer brand in order to attract top talent, which should include a well-communicated story that emphasizes the company’s values, mission, and culture. Furthermore, companies should create a buzz around their best attributes with blogs, vlogs, social media posts and more about their people, stories and success. It’s also imperative that HR professionals and recruiters take advantage of new and emerging technologies, with tools such as chatboots, sentiment analysis, and talent rediscovery.

Finally, it’s important that companies distinguish the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition, and once this distinction is made - execute the appropriate strategy.

I hope the points made in this article will help you navigate the fast-paced speed of recruitment and talent acquisition in the 21st century! Recruiting and talent acquisition is the most important aspect of strengthening your organization for the future and delivering on promises made to customers and other stakeholders - including your colleagues.  A cohesive recruitment and talent acquisition strategy is crucial for attracting and retaining the workforce of tomorrow.

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Meet the Author

Heidi Wassini

Heidi Wassini

Heidi Wassini er garvet HR-professionel med over 15 års erfaring med forretningsdrevet HR og rekruttering. Hun er Director of Global Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at Too Good to Go, og derudover en innovativ tænker, der tænker ud af boksen og stiller spørgsmålstegn ved status quo. Med sin passion og fremsynethed indenfor rekruttering og talent acquisition, er Heidi også blevet en efterspurgt oplægsholder for et internationalt publikum.

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