Future of Recruiting Study: Expanded results reveal top 5 must-know hiring insights

What we learned from 1,156 job seekers and talent acquisition leaders
Future of recruiting study expanded results

We unveiled the complete results of our 2021 Future of Recruiting Study on the recent webinar “Hiring 2021: Must-know talent insights to boost your results,” and a lot of the data affirms some of the long-held beliefs and hunches we in talent and recruiting have had around the profile of the passive job seeker, the rising use of social media in the job search, and just how much social media has become a part of our online and daily lives. It also revealed several surprises.

Survey says the following are, and remain, very true in 2021:

  • Passive job seekers think pretty highly of themselves… but apparently not so highly of their employers.
  • Employer brand still matters a lot even in this economy. Guess who cares the most? Yup–it’s passive job seekers.
  • Social media is used by almost everyone when searching for a job, and searching for their new outfit. Turns out how we shop and browse for our next online shopping binge is a lot like how we show for our next career move. (Explains a lot, right?)
  • Candidates engage with job related content on social media, and they even told us which content will make them most likely to apply to a job.
  • Social recruiting can give you a competitive edge in your hiring strategy, but only if you know where to find candidates and what you’ll do when you get there. We shared the data-backed strategy and tips to boost hiring results this year.

Read on for the summary or click here to access the full recording and slides.

Passive candidates think highly of themselves, but are most critical of current employers

Candidate stat - passive top performer

We found out that it is the passive job seeker that was more likely to rate themselves as an above average or top performer performer compared to active and non job seekers.

We talk about the passive job seeker a lot in talent acquisition, and we generally believe that they represent the best candidates in the talent pool and likely the high performers in their company and field whom we have to work hardest to convince in being open to our brand and our open opportunities. It’s interesting to see the data affirm that belief and show that they too think just as highly of their performance.

However, while they believe themselves to be high performing employees, they also were the most critical of their current employers when we asked them to rate their company on a five-star scale. They gave their employers a score of 3.66 stars while active job seekers gave their companies a 3.83 star average. Those who weren’t seeking new jobs in 2021 (non-job seekers) were rated their employers most favorably, giving them on average 4.18 stars.

Employer brand is a top motivating factor for candidates—especially passive candidates

EB stat 82 percent

Our key insights report already revealed that employer brand has become increasingly important over the years, with 82% of candidates considering employer brand before applying to a job—a 7% increase when we asked the same question in 2015. And if you remember in 2015, we were talking about a candidate-scarce market where we expected talent to have the luxury of choice among employers. But the data reveals that even in this market, employer brand is as important as ever.

So we dug a little bit deeper and we found out that passive job seekers ranked employer brand higher than active and non job seekers when considering a potential employer. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 job seekers will evaluate employer brand and reputation before applying to a job. We also saw that 53% of passive job seekers—the highest amongst the group—have left a company due to poor or diminishing brand and reputation, 35% of whom said it was the main reason they exited.

Our study confirms what we’ve all suspected: Employer brand can have a significant impact not only on talent attraction, but also talent retention, even in a down economy.

Nearly 9 out of 10 job seekers use social media in their job search

Our key insights showed that social recruiting was the top technology investment, and the majority of employers are investing in social recruiting and social media channels to look for candidates. And it turns out they are looking at the right place.

Our survey revealed that 86% of job seekers use social media in their job search. And this could be searching for jobs and that there are several ways that social media is accessed in the passive and active candidate experience. But should we really be surprised? We’ve heard this over and over, social media has dominated social online activity for years and years. In 2019 Americans spent 2 hours and 6 minutes a day on social media. We found that this only increased in 2020 with 61% saying they’ve increased social media use that year.

But it’s not about the time that candidates spend on social media, but it’s also about what they do when they’re there. We compared our findings with stats collected around shopping and browsing behavior on social media, and we learned that how we buy products is a lot like how we apply for jobs online. See the full side-by-side comparison in this quick video excerpt.

Job and employer brand content drive candidates to apply for you job on social media

Ulta Beauty - Job posts Twitter

So candidates are on social media, but what are they actually discovering and engaging with? What will make them apply? Well, we asked them, and the top three types of social media content job seekers say would make them more likely to apply are (1) jobs (open job details and a link to apply), (2) employee stories and spotlights, and (3) diversity, equity, and inclusion messaging and content. It’s all about providing a healthy mix of content so that your audience doesn’t tire of one type of content but remains informed of the most relevant and current information—be it about a recently opened job or a profile of an employee at your company. Jobs and employer brand content, like employee spotlights and DEI messaging, are what will grab attention and also activate that job seeker to apply. See how we help our client Ulta Beauty executes a top-notch social recruiting strategy.

But the question is: How do you do this effectively and at scale so that you ensure you’re getting the exposure you deserve on these social platforms which have become more saturated and competitive each year? Apparently, we’ve all developed very short attention spans on social media. Can you guess how many seconds of attention we have on Facebook? It may surprise you.

Social recruiting offers competitive advantage, only if you know where and how to get it

During the webinar we shared our top recommendations on where and how to gain competitive advantage on social media which include client examples so you can see it in action. Additional topics covered include:

  • Top social media platforms for recruiting talent, plus how to increase returns on each
  • The 3 critical elements you need to achieve competitive edge on social media
  • The difference between companies that use social recruiting software, those and who don’t—backed by data
  • And more

Access the full webinar recording and slides now.


We study and speak social—so you don’t have to. Want a social recruiting strategy, partner, and solution that actually works? Sign up for a demo of CareerArc now and get one step closer to meeting the top candidates you’ve been missing.

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