Top Enterprise Recruitment Trends for 2021

recruitment trends

This year more than 2,100 industry professionals worldwide weighed in on our annual recruitment trends report with their top priorities, challenges, and opportunities for 2021. Throughout the year, we’ll break down responses from some noteworthy groups within the industry. Today, we’re covering the top recruitment trends for Enterprise agencies in 2021.

Discover Top Recruiting Trends for 2021 at the GRID

Revenue Outlook

Respondents are largely optimistic about their performance expectations for 2021, perhaps as a result of their strong finish to 2020. Sixty-nine percent of large firms expect revenue to increase in 2021 and one-sixth of respondents expect revenue to increase by more than 25 percent. 

This is just slightly less optimistic than their smaller counterparts: seventy-one percent of all respondents expect revenue to increase in 2021, and one-fifth of all respondents expect revenue to increase by more than 25 percent.

Top Priorities for Enterprise Recruiting Firms in 2021

While the industry underwent a lot of change in 2020, the top three priorities for recruitment businesses remain the same for 2021: it’s all about candidates and clients. 

  • 48%  Candidate acquisition/sourcing
  • 40%  Winning new clients
  • 34%  Engaging candidates
  • 22%  Redeploying previously placed candidates
  • 16%  Improving management of client relationships

Candidate Acquisition (48%)

Candidate acquisition is again the top priority for recruitment firms in 2021. This is perhaps related to the continued existence of the talent shortage, but large recruitment firms are less likely to report a shortage of qualified talents than their smaller peers. Forty-nine percent of Enterprise firms say there’s still a shortage, compared to 55 percent of all respondents.

Winning New Clients (40%)

Respondents who reported a down year in 2020 were 1.5 times more likely to prioritise winning new business over their counterparts who reported an increase in revenue. 

Candidate Engagement (34%)

Notably, firms are markedly more interested in placing candidates than they are in engaging with them. Given the importance of candidate experience to redeployment, perhaps it’s no surprise that large firms are the most likely to prioritise candidate experience and redeployment.

How Do Large Recruitment Firms Differ?

While the top three priorities are the same for firms of all sizes, large firms were less likely to prioritise candidate acquisition and winning new clients than their smaller counterparts and were more likely to prioritise candidate engagement. 

The biggest difference between Enterprise strategy and everyone else? Large firms are 69 percent more likely to prioritise redeploying candidates than their smaller counterparts and 41 percent less likely to focus on marketing. 

This reflects a theme to the approach for larger firms in 2021: efficiency. Large firms emphasised maximising efficiency in every area of the business, from automating more processes to redeploying more of their existing candidate database. In contrast, smaller firms emphasised the need to rebuild client bases and win over candidates.

Top Recruiting Challenges for Large Firms in 2021

Respondents were asked to pick their top challenges for the year ahead. COVID-19 looms large, impacting many of the challenges facing recruitment agencies in 2021.

  • 67%  COVID-19 related impacts on the labor market
  • 33%  Talent shortage
  • 28%  Hiring freezes


  • COVID-19 related impacts on the labor market (67%)
    • The direct and indirect impact of COVID-19 looms large for large recruitment firms in 2021. Respondents cite hiring freezes and an increased challenge in building candidate relationships as particular obstacles caused or exacerbated by COVID-19. 
  • Tight talent pools/skills shortage (33%)
    • Recruitment firms of all sizes cite a talent shortage as a major challenge, but large firms are 25% less likely to cite it as a top challenge.
  • Hiring freezes (26%)
    • Respondents also reported hiring freezes as the top obstacle preventing them from winning new business (33%).

Interested in learning more about the recruitment trends, challenges, opportunities, and ideas that will shape the recruiting industry in the year ahead? There’s so much more waiting for you at the Global Recruitment Insights and Data site, like key findings broken down by region and resources designed to help you be a trendsetter like free PowerPoint slides.

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