What We Learned from the State of Recruiting Report in 2020

Lever, the leader in talent sourcing and relationship management software, released the Lever 2020 State of Recruiting Report to see what recruiters and talent acquisition professionals alike were doing at the start of the pandemic. The report was based on the responses of 700 talent and HR decision makers in the U.S. and Canada, and dove into the impact of the novel Coronavirus pandemic on recruiting practices. It provides a glimpse of what the future might look like as businesses adapted to the many changes in the market across various industries. 

Overall, the report surfaces optimism among recruiters, as only 14% of companies were on a total hiring freeze as a result of COVID-19, and 40% believed they’d emerge post-pandemic stronger and with better strategies and tools. Some industries were even more optimistic. Forty-eight percent of respondents in the software industry believed they’d emerge stronger, followed by those in infrastructure (46%), finance (44%) and retail (43%).

Additional key findings include:

  • Recruiters kept busy (37%) rethinking their recruiting processes, while 41% cleaned up their recruiting data.
  • 84% of recruiters leaned more heavily on phone interviews as a result of the pandemic, while 85% of them leaned more heavily on video interviews.
  • 62% agreed they would need to hire workers with skills that weren’t needed before; the top new skills required were adaptability (68%), communication (60%), and technology proficiency (55%).
  • 50% said diversity and inclusion initiatives would become more of a priority as companies proactively worked to combat racism in the workplace.
  • It was still far too early to tell what the “new normal” would be in terms of remote work. Only 33% of respondents said remote work would likely increase with 38% saying it would decrease. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed businesses in nearly every industry. And because nothing is more fundamental to a business than its people, rethinking people processes through the lens of this “new normal” is critical—from sourcing candidates and remotely interviewing them, to hiring and onboarding new employees,” said Lever’s CEO, Nate Smith. “In this report, we provide a glimpse of what that transformation may look like, with the goal of empowering businesses to adapt to—and even benefit from—these changes.”

Respondents also saw the need for adaptability as a fundamental skill, as well as the importance of more personalized candidate relationships, with 71% saying it’s now more important that candidate relationship management tools be built into their applicant tracking system. Many are investing in recruiting interactions that will become more personalized and relationship-based going forward, especially in industries like infrastructure, construction and engineering (58%) and financial services (57%).


Zogby Analytics was commissioned by Lever to conduct an online survey of 553 talent and HR decision makers in the US and 156 talent and HR decision makers in Canada for a total of 709 completed surveys conducted June 11-15, 2020.

About Lever

Lever’s mission is to offer talent leaders powerful tools to source and build stronger relationships with candidates, while providing industry-leading reporting — all in one unified Talent Relationship Management (TRM) platform. Lever supports the hiring needs of over 3,000 companies around the globe including the teams at Netflix, Atlassian, Shopify, KPMG, and McGraw-Hill Education. Lever is also fiercely committed to building a team culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion.

To learn more about how the Lever Talent Relationship Management (TRM) platform can improve your hiring efficiency during COVID-19, request a demo for a custom overview.