The Rise of Remote Work Is Changing Traditional Recruitment

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to spikes in unemployment around the world. As widespread stay-at-home orders have felled many traditional businesses and major players like Twitter and Square have enabled full-time remote work forever, more and more job seekers have turned their attention to the world of working from home. These shifts will have far-reaching implications for recruiters well into the future.

The increased interest in — and necessity of — remote work poses a unique challenge to recruiters and hiring managers, who must now figure out how to recruit for remote roles that used to function out of offices. While some traditional recruiting tactics can easily be applied to remote hiring, others must be replaced or supplemented by brand new best practices.

Online Employer Brand Matters

A good online reputation is crucial to any company’s efforts to hire remotely. Without physical locations to visit, potential employees will rely heavily on the company’s digital presence to inform their opinions about the organization. Most if not all searches for remote jobs include a stopover at review sites like Glassdoor to check out what employees say about the employer. It’s not uncommon for remote workers to go as far as reaching out to employees directly for more information!

What does this mean for recruiters? It means employer brand has to be front and center in any remote recruiting strategy. Since the words of employees have so much weight when it comes to a company’s online reputation, it’s best to work employees right into the hiring process. For example, including employee testimonials and descriptions of company culture in every job ad is one way to capture candidates’ attention by giving them exactly what they’re looking for.

Advertise on the Right Platforms

To reach the right audience for your remote roles, you need to leverage the right channels.

Because remote work is such a highly desired perk, ads for fully remote roles often receive a lot of attention — and not always from the right candidates. It’s common for remote job openings to be flooded by applications from unqualified candidates with no prior remote experience. (That’s how badly people want to work from home!) This is particularly true for ads posted on more traditional job boards like Indeed or Monster.

To reach a more targeted audience of candidates who are more likely to be good fits for remote roles, recruiters should use remote-specific platforms to promote their job ads. Sites like We Work Remotely or RemoteOK are specifically geared toward candidates with remote experience, which means you’ll be more likely to find the right people there.

Vet Candidates Effectively

There is more to remote hiring than hosting Zoom interviews and shooting off a few emails. Because virtual hiring means there’s no opportunity to evaluate candidates in person, seasoned remote recruiters make use of a variety of assessment tools to ensure they make the highest-quality hires.

For assessments of technical skills, it can be a good idea to have someone other than the recruiter oversee the evaluation. If the recruiter does not have programming experience, for example, they may not be a great judge of a candidate’s coding skills. Many remote recruiters hold two separate interviews: one in which they assess the candidate, and one in which a relevant subject-matter expert from the company evaluates the candidate’s skills.

Personality assessments are also important, as not everyone has the traits to thrive in a fully remote work environment. Tools like ThriveMap and Saberr can help recruiters gain insight into how a candidate prefers to work and how likely they are to succeed in a remote work arrangement.

Test Reasonably

While assessments are especially critical to virtual recruiting efforts, it’s important to remember to be reasonable about how you test candidates. For example, it’s acceptable to give a prospective coder a small programming task, but it’s unreasonable to ask for a portfolio piece that takes weeks to perfect.

Unreasonable testing is an unfortunately common sin, especially when companies are hiring content creators or designers. Rather than asking candidates to provide outlines or drafts, recruiters will often request full articles or design pieces. That’s a lot of labor to ask from a candidate who hasn’t even been hired, and such off-putting assessments are a surefire way to drive top talent out of your pipeline.

Keep initial assessments simple, and save more complex tests for the second round of interviews. That way, only candidates with a real shot at the job are being asked to make the effort.

Interpersonal Skills Matter

Depending on their areas of specialization, some recruiters may be used to focusing heavily on technical skills over soft skills during the recruiting process. However, soft skills are absolutely vital to remote work, regardless of industry.

The best remote workers are not great at remote work because of their work histories or credentials. They’re great at remote work because they have the right personality traits and interpersonal skills to thrive in a virtual environment. Remote workers ultimately need to be trustworthy, strong communicators who take ownership of their roles and address challenges head-on. Remember that technical skills can be taught, but personality traits are built up over a lifetime.

Recruiting for remote roles may have once been a particular niche, but thanks to the pandemic, every recruiter must now learn how to hire virtually. The same tactics that led to success when recruiting for traditional roles won’t necessarily work now, and recruiters have to adapt their practices accordingly.

Marli Welgemoed is the founder of Desk To Remote.

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Marli Welgemoed is the founder of Desk To Remote, a job-finding agency helping professionals from traditional 9-5 industries transition to working from home full-time.