Our guide to recruiting remotely as restrictions ease

26 February 2021

With more than half of UK firms announcing plans to hire new staff in the next three months, the recruitment landscape feels like a much more positive place to be. Hiring is picking up again, especially within the tech sector, where roles are being seen as essential for business continuity and progression. However, with current restrictions meaning that returning to the office is still quite a long way away for many, many of these hiring managers still have to recruit remotely.

For some businesses recruiting remotely is becoming second nature; they’ve had to recruit over the last year and adapt their hiring processes accordingly. But for others (such as those involved in a hiring freeze or have not been in a position to recruit), it’s an entirely new experience.

Of course, over the last 12 months, we’ve become accustomed to video calls and virtual communications, but there are special considerations to be made when it comes to recruiting remotely. Now that we are (hopefully) nearing the end of restrictions, there are certain expectations that employers must meet to prepare remote employees and new hires for a potential return to the office.

Here’s our guide to recruiting remotely as restrictions ease:

Optimise job ads 

If a candidate cannot physically come into your office to get a feel for the company they’re potentially going to work for, you need to find alternative places to show your company culture. The original job advertisement is a great place to do this. By showing who you are and what you stand for at the beginning of the application process, you should only receive engaged candidates’ applications. Through the language you use, you should be able to resonate with the right people. Think about your brand tone of voice and use this throughout your job adverts. However, avoid terms like “ninja”, “Rockstar”, or “self-starter”, as surveys show these words to not only be among the most annoying commonly used terms in “fun” job ads but also show they don’t provide much clarity. 68% of UK workers would like employers to write their job ads with more clarity, so you mustn’t get lost in trying to sound fun and different.

The pandemic has even seen a rise in video-based job adverts to help give a visual impression of the company and help portray the employer brand and company culture. This could be something worth considering if you’re looking to recruit at scale.

Explain plans for the future

Now that restrictions are beginning to ease, both current employees and future candidates are looking to the future. For many of us, this means whether or not we’ll return to the office on a full-time basis. Over the last year, there have been countless conversations about whether remote working will overtake office life, and every business now has an idea of the future. You need to begin to make your intentions for the return of work clear within your job advertisements or employer brand communications; otherwise, you risk a high employee turnover. Let’s face it if a web developer applies for your vacancy thinking it’s 100% remote and then you expect them to return to the office on a full-time basis, it won’t end well, and you’ll likely be recruiting again. Now is the time for clarity in your job advertisements and remote recruitment process. Give candidates a clear idea of what employment will be like with you in both the short-term and long-term to allow them to assess whether the business fits their needs.

Take time to get to know candidates

As you can’t meet candidates face-to-face, you should devote more time to getting to know them and getting a feel for whether the candidate will not only fit with your company culture but enhance it. For a scaling tech company, it’s no longer enough to hire for cultural fit. Instead, you need to look for individuals that will add something and play a key role in your business’s growth. By taking some time out to get to know these candidates, perhaps by making a second interview more of a personal chat, you’ll be able to determine who will fit and who won’t, as well as who will innovate and bring something unique to your company. With virtual communications and remote work taking over, it’s easier than ever to contact candidates, and they’ll appreciate you going the extra mile to get to know them, their personal circumstances and their motivations for joining your business.

Involve the wider team

While recruiting remotely, another challenge is you don’t get input from the wider team. Usually, if a candidate comes to an interview, most of the team will see them and can offer them a coffee or engage in communications. With virtual interviewing, this is a thing of the past. Therefore, it’s a good idea for companies to engage in collaborative hiring and have a more diverse interview panel. Include some of the team the candidate will be working with to see how they get on and determine cultural fit. Also, include people from other business areas where collaborations are likely, not just the leadership team. A hiring manager often can’t predict working relationships alone, so it makes sense to involve the team a candidate will be working with at some point in the remote recruitment process to determine whether they’ll be an asset or if there’s the risk of clashes.

Criteria may need to change

If you haven’t been remoting during the pandemic or you’re thinking of hiring a remote employee, you need to be aware that your once ideal criteria will have evolved. Due to the unstable recruitment landscape of the last 12 months, you can expect to see more gaps in CVs and more candidates who are choosing to reskill applying for jobs with less experience in the role. Attitudes to work have changed and therefore so should your idea of the ideal candidate.

You also need to understand that if you’re hiring an employee to work remotely, different qualities will take prominence. Remote workers need to be good communicators. If they’re bad at getting their point across or reaching out to people, they will struggle to work from outside of the office. Skilled communication means being direct, clear, professional, and not afraid to ask for help if needed; in a remote environment, they cannot afford to sit and struggle. You should also look for collaborative candidates (even when working from a distance) who are organised and comfortable using the latest tech as they’ll often be working with little to no guidance.

Think of candidate experience

The last year has made your employer brand even more important as the wider public have become aware of employers’ discrepancies. From application through to acceptance, the candidate experience you offer plays a huge part in your employer brand and how others perceive you. In the current climate, you cannot afford to leave candidates in the dark about their application’s status as it could reflect poorly on you. Instead, it would help if you looked at automating as many communications as possible and taking the time out to respond to candidates queries or give feedback. When recruiting remotely, they can’t get a perception of you either, so the more personal, helpful and straightforward you can make the candidate experience, the stronger your employer brand perceptions will be.

Onboarding

The final hurdle in recruiting remotely and one that is even more frustrating now a return to the office is looking more likely is the onboarding process. This means reviewing candidate needs and equipment, which is no longer a simple process when we’re all working from our homes. Your HR teams must assess what each new hire needs to succeed in their job role and ensure it’s sent to their address before they begin to hire. You also need to find ways to make them feel welcome, from virtual introductions to potential welcome packs and gifts. Onboarding remotely takes time and consideration. Everything must be planned to ensure that new hires feel welcome and have a clear understanding of what is required of them. Usually, in an office, this would be a case of asking a simple question. However, now you must be prepared to help them settle in without face-to-face contact, which means implementing processes like instant messaging and a designated contact for impromptu video calls need to be in place.

Talent Works helps tech businesses to recruit the talent they need to scale, which means we are currently experts in recruiting remotely. If you’re considering outsourcing your recruitment process and would like to talk to our experts about your hiring plans, we’d love to speak with you. As experts in employer branding, recruitment marketing and sourcing talent, our scalable and flexible approach to RPO is the perfect solution for scaling businesses and larger-scale organisations as we enter a new era of work.

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