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How 2021 Recruitment Trends Have Been Shaped by the Pandemic

The impact of Covid-19 on the hiring landscape is still unfolding and more astounding changes will keep coming.

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The impact of Covid-19 on the hiring landscape is still unfolding and more astounding changes will keep coming.

Photo credit: Pikisuperstar

The pandemic affected many sectors of the economy. One of the affected areas was the Human Resource industry, particularly the recruitment and hiring landscape. Covid-19 disrupted the hiring scale dramatically and as a consequence, we now have a “new normal”.

The purpose of this article is to explore this new reality with respect to recruiting, selecting, and hiring.

I spoke to two experienced HR professionals to get a clearer picture of how they have been navigating this new landscape.

Leah Muli, HR Consultant and Director at Pealar, and Talent Sourcing & Recruiting specialist at Azenia, Nimrod Kimani concur that recruitment is a broad and general term. According to Leah, recruiting is identifying and attracting a pool of qualified candidates to fill a position. You then proceed to the selection phase where you sift through the pool to identify the best fit for the position. 

We will explore how these phases have evolved one year into the pandemic.


Virtual interviews

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, HR professionals have invested in digital solutions in order to be efficient in their operations such as conducting interviews virtually via platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, and others. Many recruiters have since realized that this interviewing method is in fact beneficial because it decreases the hiring turnaround time.

Virtual interviews also saved a lot of hiring costs and allowed time to interview a larger pool of great candidates. Leah says that it opened up opportunities for recruiters to attract international candidates.

Since the world is now a “global village” the pool of qualified candidates has expanded because of remote working. Remote working seemed like an unforeseen frontier that brought international integration. Consequently, virtual interviews have enabled recruiters to interview and assess candidates who are in other countries.


Remote working

Now that people don’t have to report to a physical location in most industries, Leah says that some companies no longer post the location of a job when posting job vacancies. When I was at iHub I met different people who worked for companies based in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.

While some companies were already used to remote work before the outbreak, it was a completely new way of working for others. Employers have had to come up with ways of supervising and supporting employees working remotely to be productive, therefore, becoming more open to the idea of hiring international workers. 

Remote working has given hiring managers access to a wider pool of candidates. And Leah says that there is still a small spillover of people who lost their jobs last year. As such, recruiters have gotten access to affordable but great talent. For example, the Philippines is now known for good quality virtual assistants who deliver on the job on time and at an affordable rate.

Though Nimrod is hesitant to conclude that there are a large number of unemployed talents in the market, he says that hiring international candidates has been made easier by the advent of Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). PEOs are organizations that facilitate remittances by companies to international workers.

For example, if a Kenyan company hires a Nigerian, the PEO will help take care of taxes and remitting salaries to that Nigerian staff.


Posting vacancies

Newspapers were the primary source of posting job vacancies because they had a nationwide reach. However, the pandemic interrupted that and many recruiters and HR professionals are now investing in using online platforms such as Fuzu to find the talent they need.

This makes it easy for hiring managers to gain access to a larger, diverse pool of candidates. In Africa, 70% of the population is aged below 35. The penetration of the internet is way superior to traditional print media. In Kenya for example, we have an internet penetration of more than 75%. On the other hand, according to Business Today, newspaper penetration in Kenya stands at 9.5%.

Additionally, digital solutions empower you more. You can headhunt and scout for talent on a larger scale. Platforms such as Fuzu provide a lot of important data points about a candidate enabling you to understand your potential hires more and reduce the hiring process significantly. The goal is to have a faster turnaround time for hiring and get quality candidates.


Reduced permanent contracts

Experts concur that the pandemic bit the employers in a devastating manner because they had to lay off so many workers. And now they have relented on offering permanent contracts. Leah says that most of the employment offers that are being given to candidates at the moment are time-bound.

This is because employers have developed a wait-and-see attitude so that they can stay prepared if another unforeseen scenario happens. Laying off people is a daunting hassle and at the same time, it’s also costly when you have to pay legal severance fees.

Another industry that has started thriving in light of these circumstances is the freelancer industry. These days you don’t need to employ people to complete certain tasks while you can get a freelancer to do the job one time and you spend less.

A lot of hiring managers are regularly scouting for short-term freelancers on Fiverr, Upwork, and other platforms. Similarly, employers in industries such as hospitality are adopting seasonal employment.

This happens when they anticipate peak season in sales then the contract ends when the off-peak season begins. In these ways, companies end up saving on hiring and retention costs. 


Impact on industries

According to an analysis conducted by Fuzu on industry hiring trends in the last 9 months, the following industries have been experiencing an upsurge in hiring: 


  • Human Resources, Talent Development & Recruiting

  • Manufacturing

  • Health Care & Medical

  • Energy 

The Non-Profit industry saw a 50% increase in January 2021 and has been constant since according to Fuzu’s analysis while the Banking and Computer Software Services have seen a steady increase. Industries such as Restaurant & Hospitality, Retail and Governmental have seen a drop in hiring according to the analysis.

As per our analysis, hiring across industries has taken a hit during periods of COVID-imposed lockdowns, however, the online job market (as indicated by Fuzu's own data) seems to be getting back on track.



Last year, Fuzu estimated that companies in telecommunication, technology, delivery & logistics would do best post-covid. The rise in demand for tech products and professionals has in turn given a lot of relevance to companies in the human resource, talent development & recruiting industry.

The telecommunications industry has been seeing a boom because as was estimated last year there is a rise in demand for connectivity.

Fuzu also predicted the increased uptake of telehealth. True to the estimate, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) says that there is a rise in the use of telehealth though it’s yet to be well regulated by the government. 

KMPDC says that the global telemedicine industry will grow to $73 billion in 2023 due to a preference for contactless medical services. This further underpins the importance of technology.


Services that experienced a demand

As much as the majority of jobs were swept away by Covid, demand for services such as delivery services grew exponentially. This was occasioned by the stay-at-home orders and people purchasing goods online. Ecommerce businesses such as Amazon, Jumia, and others hired a lot of riders, delivery professionals, and customer support specialists.

The hunt for tech experts such as software engineers, developers, UI/UX designers could never be higher than it has been over the past year. A lot of services are being offered online and websites have become the reception desk for many businesses. Therefore, tech experts are greatly needed to ease this process for users in a highly competitive field.

Teachers are also in demand because schools have re-opened and they need to adhere to stipulated government Covid-19 protocols.


Internal hiring and mobility

According to Fuzu’s Future of Work Report, since the onset of Covid-19, internal mobility has risen by 20%. This is seen as an effort towards reducing hiring by companies. 

These days companies are investing in their employees by preparing them for future vacancies that will arise in the company. Employers are therefore training their employees and upskilling them with the necessary skills to handle remote work.

With this strategy, companies are angling towards higher employee retention. A Global Talent Trends 2020 report employees stick around 41 percent longer at companies that regularly hire from within.



The impact of Covid-19 on the hiring landscape is still unfolding and more astounding changes will keep coming. One sure thing is that there will be more integration in the globe and the phrase the world is now a global village will become a tangible reality.

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Written by

Wahome Ngatia

Peter Wahome Ngatia is an all rounded Marketing Specialist who deals in Graphic Design, Social Media, SEO and Content Writing. My passion is to use my skills and knowledge to help African businesses grow and thrive so that we can create employment for the youth. I also want to churn helpful content that inspires millennials to go hard after their dreams. Mantra: You learn more from failure than success.

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