American businesses are well into #TheGreatRehire – jobs are coming back and economies are recovering – but millions of workers remain unemployed. Staffing firms completely pivoted strategies, even as their own workers managed a pandemic and its economic repercussions. Now that we are a year into the pandemic and weathered hiring rollercoasters, what’s next? Where do staffing firms go from here?

The good news is that staffing firms are in a unique spot to drive and predict the future of hiring.

Continue to utilize temporary workers

Temporary work is a great indicator of employment and industry growth, as we saw after the 2008 recession. We’re in an atmosphere where customers are going to be risk-averse and invest in temporary labor, opening up a huge opportunity for staffing. For example, in February of this year, more than 50,000 temp jobs returned to the workforce, reflecting a yearlong trend. While the economy recovers and employers start hiring again, it will continue to move slowly. Temporary or contract workers can help build confidence, while also playing into the now-normal of working remotely.

Certain roles will return faster or have a greater need

Throughout this economic recovery, we’ve seen the rise in childcare and education roles, as daycares and schools re-open or shift. The growth of industries that were hardest hit should be of primary focus for staffing firms in 2021 – specifically in the retail and hospitality sectors. Those jobs will come roaring back full-force and staffing firms should be ready.

Also on the rise are accounting, finance, and customer service roles, along with heightened remote work options among all professional roles and even in contract or temporary jobs. Firms who can serve these increasing and shifting needs will see success.

Prioritize skills-based hiring

Like so many other workplace trends, the pandemic accelerated the growing practice of skills-based hiring. This strategy is a smart way for employers to find the best matches for the team while supporting candidates changing industries.

Focus on skillsets instead of primarily on previous job titles or specific experiences to widen your talent pool and promote diversity. Additionally, you’ll make employment more accessible for the 84% of job seekers who are open to switching industries.

Upskilling and reskilling candidates will continue to be a viable option for employers, as candidates have strong interpersonal or soft skills, or even transferable technical skills, but they need a boost.

Lean on technology

Staffing firms have not been immune to layoffs and reduction of teams. With limited time and smaller staffs, you need more ways to be efficient with your HR technology. Find tools that are designed to save you time and consider how our needs to connect virtually have changed.

Move beyond just Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as this digital-first work world isn’t leaving any time soon. With platforms that allow for scheduled chat sessions with 10 people in one-on-one interviews, to automated talent network features, make sure your tech is working for you.

Focus on automation, virtual hiring events, and other ways to outsource daily recruitment tasks to technology. This will allow recruiters to focus on people and finding the perfect candidate, instead of manual administrative duties.

The takeaway of 2020 will be diversity and overall candidate experience

National conversations on race, equity, and discrimination are shaping workplace conversations just as much as the pandemic. While we’re seeing a good portion of staffing firms organize around diversity and inclusion, there is still a long way to go.

CareerBuilder has been focused on its own initiatives, including better understanding how our technology can help firms and clients remove bias from their process. Companies should consider the strong, tangible benefits of diversity and work to find solutions that move them toward a more inclusive environment.

This also directly relates to the candidate experience, from the moment they land on a website and apply for a role, to that initial call with a recruiter. Candidates will have questions about how companies have responded to both the public discourse on equality and the coronavirus pandemic. Staffing firms and their clients should be prepared for those answers. Additionally, with millions of Americans unemployed, we know how difficult it can be to try to serve everyone. But don’t lose sight of the fact that if a candidate has a bad experience with you, they’ll remember that.

Take note of trends on which roles are emerging or changing, lean on technology to navigate change, prioritize candidate experience and diversity, and continue preparing for a more competitive candidate environment because we’ll get there again.