4 Ways to Turn Candidates On to Return-to-Work Options

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Most companies have introduced their return-to-work plans as the country moves toward restoring workplace normalcy. Granted, many employers are open to hybrid work settings, and the new state of ordinary will look very different from before the pandemic. However, the work-from-home experience  employees garnered in safely maneuvering the pandemic’s impacts has shifted candidate expectations. 

The sales industry has always offered something of a flexible work option by the sheer nature of the job. But not having to return to an office appeals to many sales candidates, and it may become more challenging to attract new talent to companies that eliminate remote options in the future. 

As an experienced recruiter, you’re not one to shy away from a challenge, and these tips are about to make it easier to attract new hires to companies on the verge of returning to the workplace.

1. Create Meaningful Connections in the Interview Process

Shifting to virtual interviews was a logical progression to save time and money even before the global pandemic impacted the workforce. But keeping recruiting and hiring processes at a distance only reinforces the desire of candidates to stay disconnected from the in-person work environment. As many companies roll out their return-to-work plans, we need to look for more ways to get talent back in front of decision-makers where real connections can be made.

Early interview stages are still best completed through video interviews. Cutting down on the number of times candidates are required to visit the office in person is more convenient and, quite frankly, still safer as we continue to distance ourselves in the process of increasing vaccination rates. However, video can still be used to warm candidates up to the team and company culture  leading up to final face-to-face interviews.

When sharing feedback between interviews, send candidates short videos highlighting collaboration and camaraderie between team members. Try to showcase the in-person culture to excite candidates about the potential of working alongside current employees. Don’t forget to give them a feel for leadership personalities as well.

2. Show the Value of In-person Training

As part of your video campaign during the interview process, you can share some of the perks of your company’s in-person training and mentorship programs. While plenty of practical training resources are available online, getting a grasp of your responsibilities and seeing a clear path toward advancement is much clearer when you can shadow someone successful in your role.

Testimonials from employees who have benefited from your in-person training and mentorship are a great way to prove their value to candidates. It would be best if you also got team leaders and mentors in front of the camera. Build a library of video profiles with lists of skills each member of your team is capable of teaching new hires. 

Encourage candidates to connect with current employees for informal/informational interviews even if they are well into the interview process. Squash concerns about on-site training and boost support for developing skills on the job by connecting potential hires with experienced team members. And be sure candidates understand the ins and outs of how training could develop beyond the onboarding process. 

3. Highlight Flexible Work Options

It may not be difficult to convince candidates to get on board with your return to work plan, but if the competition can offer them more flexibility, your open jobs will pale in comparison. If there’s room in the strategy to create more hybrid and flexible work options, open that possibility up for discussion with candidates.

You’re well aware that gone are the days of all employees needing to be available for the traditional 9-5. Employers recognize that life cannot always work around your work schedule, but the work can still get done if employees can find balance. Many companies do not plan to return to full-time in-office work or a full on-location workforce. Especially not since the shift to work from home boosted productivity  for many employees.

Discuss with candidates their expectations  for an ideal work schedule. How many hours or days a week do they feel they can focus best in the office? How many days do they need to work a flexible schedule to balance their work and home responsibilities? What do they need from their employer to perform at their best and maintain their mental and physical wellness? Find out their reservations about returning to in-office work and determine if a flexible schedule can work to align with their needs or if they can find balance in the office role through other means.

4. Be Transparent About the Return-to-Work Plan

As you uncover their expectations, be clear about the company’s return-to-work plan. Falsely leading candidates to believe their requests can be met will only lead to costly turnover and ruin the employer brand  reputation. If the company has outlined a plan to return all roles to the office in the future, you don’t want to hook talent with your flexible work options. It’s essential to be upfront about the temporary nature of their hiring status. 

Have a 30-60-90 day plan that outlines the return to work transition the company intends to make ready to discuss with candidates who are reluctant to sign on for an on-location job. Be prepared to discuss why the company has decided to move back to the office by a certain date and what benefits employees will see as a result. 

Remember, you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. If a candidate is determined to find a role that allows them to work from home, your efforts are better focused on connecting with talent that aligns with the company’s long-term goals.


 Greg Clouse is the recruiting manager at BioSpace.


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By Greg Clouse