The three top skills for Talent Acquisition to have in 2021

Published: 13 January 2021
Author: James Chapman

In 2020, recruiting went through a number of transformations – many of which fundamentally changed how talent professionals thought about and approached their jobs. Flexibility became essential. Online interviews and virtual onboarding became the norm overnight. Diversity and inclusion came to the forefront.

Managers have had to look at how to reskill and upskill staff, while some employees have taken control of developing their own skillsets. One of the big lessons of 2020 is that staying relevant in the market is challenging in these dynamic times, so learning and developing new skills should be a personal priority for us all. Here are three top skills for talent acquisition to have this year.


1. Personal Development: the skill of being able to learn new skills

In 2020, the fastest-growing skill for recruiters was personal development – the ability to add new skills. Last year, recruiters were rapidly adding skills like diversity and inclusion, decision making, and HR strategy to their toolbox. In an environment where change was the only constant, it made sense that the number one fastest growing skill amongst recruiting professionals was personal development.

Talent acquisition specialists recognised just how critical this kind of adaptability will be in the future. The share of recruiting professionals listing personal development skills on their LinkedIn profile rose by 44% in 2020. As lockdown 3.0 is in full swing in the UK, personal development remains a top skill for talent acquisition specialists to have this year.

Employers can help in a number of ways to support their talent acquisition team’s personal development. The Personal Development Plan, or PDP, is one way to ensure continued learning and development for employees at all levels. If managed correctly, they can enable people to rapidly build their skills and competencies. PDPs also give employees ownership of their own professional development and ensure that as an employer, you are building the right skills across your talent acquisition teams.


2. Adaptability

According to LinkedIn, the number one skill for recruiters in 2021 is adaptability. In 2020, recruiting teams were stretched, and that is likely to continue. From dealing with hiring freezes (or, in some sectors, record spikes) to aligning with ever-shifting business priorities, recruiters need to remain agile.

Last year certainly gave talent acquisitions teams a chance to practice adaptability, from adjusting to Zoom interviews to figuring out how to onboard new remote hires. The recruiters who were comfortable adapting were best prepared to navigate these changes – whether that meant rapidly ramping up recruiting efforts for essential roles, or pivoting to focus on other areas while hiring was on pause.

In 2021, HR Directors will need to ensure that people are more flexible, more adaptable, and that they can really change to the needs of the business.


3. Diversity and Inclusion: D&I skills are key

Recent LinkedIn data shows that 77% of talent professionals believe D&I will be vital to the future of recruiting in a post-pandemic world. Diversity and Inclusion skills saw a 42% growth among recruitment professionals in 2020.

Diversity and Inclusion will remain firmly on the talent acquisition agenda in 2021, not only in the traditional sense of people’s backgrounds and where they come from, but also in the way they approach their work. With ‘GenZ’ entering the workforce, and baby boomers retiring later, talent acquisition will be working within a multi-generational workplace. Recruiting permanent remote workers may also create greater workplace inclusivity.

It’s impossible to predict everything the future will hold, but these skills should give your team a solid foundation. This year, capable talent acquisition teams can make all the difference to a business’s success by actioning the strategy, supporting the direction of the business and bringing in the best people for the organisation.


How do I upskill my talent acquisition team?

Upskilling your team does not have to cost a fortune, nor take a long time. By identifying the skills needed to push your business forward, understanding which of your team have a growth mindset, and implementing the right strategies, can all help. When looking to upskill your team, it’s important to identify what the gaps are. You can do this by:

  • Undertaking a skills gap analysis, and identifying the skills that each role needs, then comparing that to the skills of your existing employees.
  • Calculating costs and aligning them with business requirements.
  • Creating a strategy to fill those gaps with each of your team members.


There are other resources which can strengthen your talent acquisition team, too. Recruiter On Demand offers bespoke interim solutions for in-house talent acquisition teams for as long as you need. To find out how to expand your in-house recruitment team without increasing your permanent headcount, visit