7 Remote Recruiting Tips: How to grow your team when location doesn't matter

Remote working

Now that remote working has become the norm and it’s evident that many companies will continue to offer remote work in some shape or form, it’s time to turn our attention to recruiting - and how to hire new team members in this new environment. 

While many companies initially put the brakes on recruiting, things are changing as economies recalibrate and businesses need to fill positions. For many companies, remote working creates new opportunities for recruiting from a wider pool of talent, as well as offering the coveted benefit of working from home (in fact, 95% of respondents to a Zapier survey said they would prefer to work remotely and another survey found that remote workers are happier and offering this working style improves retention).

However, there’s no doubt that the recruitment process needs to be approached differently when everyone is remote. Here are our top tips for getting remote recruiting right:

1. Broaden your talent search

The first difference with recruiting remotely is to consider the possible locations for your future employee. If your company has truly embraced remote work, you may be able to recruit from anywhere in the world. However, it’s likely that you’ll want to consider the time zones that will work for your company, and potentially some other factors. 

Alternatively, your team may be working from home but still based from an office location. In this scenario, you can still expand the area to attract applicants from - as it might be acceptable for them to commute an hour or two if they’re only required to be in the office once or twice a week.

Based on your decisions here, you’ll need to decide on the best places to advertise your position. There are remote job boards (like WeWorkRemotely or Remote OK) which specialise in remote hiring, but you might find you also want to advertise on more traditional job boards (like Seek). However, many of these are not configured well for remote work so you will need to be creative! In many cases, you are required to list the location of the job, but you can either create several listings, or log in and change this every few days to attract a broader pool of applicants. You might also find that there are some industry-specific forums or job boards which will help you attract the right candidates.

Your own website and social media platforms are also more effective for recruiting once you’re not limiting your search to a particular geographic area. Include your open position on your website and encourage current employees to share these posts on their own networks.

2. Build an efficient screening process

Of course, the downside of casting the net wide is that you’ll have more applicants to process - however that just means that you’ll need a more efficient screening process. 

If you’re using an HR system with an Applicant Tracking System (such as HR Partner), you should be able to set up a custom application form which is an enormous help in this area. A good application form allows you to ask specific questions that can help you do a first-pass screen of applicants, without needing to dig into their resumes. 

For example, if strong writing skills are one of the attributes you’re looking for, ask candidates a longer-response question that allows them to demonstrate this skill. If you need specific experience or qualifications, require that applicants specify these on their form.

In order to screen applicants efficiently, you should also enlist the help of your colleagues and put together a selection panel for the role. Agree on what the minimum requirements are for your first pass through and set up a process for moving applicants through the first stage quickly. The idea is to get to the highest potential candidates early and then spend more time with those ones in the latter stages.


3) Test for remote working capability

Depending on the role, you’ll have a set of particular attributes that you’re looking for. But if this role will involve a significant amount of remote work, consider adding to your usual list of criteria. Not everyone is suited to remote work and while many believe they will like it, the reality can be different from their expectations! Past experience working remotely is often the best predictor of success with remote roles, so it can pay to give extra weight to this factor.

In addition to experience, there are other skills that are relied on for effective remote work. For example, the ability to communicate clearly becomes more important than ever. When team members are discussing things via chat channels or collaborative documents, clear thinking and strong writing skills are extremely important. It’s also important that the successful candidate is comfortable on video and feels no hesitation about jumping onto a video conference to share ideas and collaborate with colleagues. 

If the role involves a lot of self-direction, self-management and time management skills should also be emphasised. Without the structure of an office environment, team members need to be able to work independently and proactively. 

4) Highlight a strong employer brand

While it’s true that you might now be attracting candidates from a wider pool, keep in mind that candidates also have more options when they’re able to work remotely. If they’re not coming into the office for interviews, they’re not able to gain as many insights into the culture and working environment. For these reasons, it’s more important than ever to have a strong employer brand.

For the most part, your employer brand needs to be communicated online - on your website, social media channels, and through the emails you send to candidates. You might include testimonials from employees (written or video), photos from social get togethers, photos of the office and other evidence of the culture of your organisation.

5) Lengthen the recruitment process

Most companies that regularly recruit for remote roles agree that in general, the timeline and number of stages needs to be stretched. You might consider asking candidates to submit a video to introduce themselves, or send them a sample scenario from a fictitious client and ask them to send a mock response. 

Many companies also introduce an actual project as part of their recruiting process. This is usually a paid project running over a few days, and real work that will actually be used. This can seem like a lot of hassle but it’s a great way to see how the applicant works in a real situation, including how they interact with colleagues, their time management, the quality of their work, and more.

6) Treat reference checks seriously

When recruiting remotely, unfortunately the potential for dishonesty increases. Without meeting face-to-face, candidates can become more exaggerated in their claims and it’s vital to have a solid verification process in place. Reference checks are always important, but this should be particularly emphasised for remote roles. 

Seek out several references and then do your online research to verify the referees and their positions. You can do reference checks via email, however, it’s much less likely that you’ll identify any potential issues this way as most people are hesitant to put anything negative in writing. Instead, get on on the phone and start dialling. A short conversation with the right reference check questions can be very enlightening.

7) Develop a rigorous onboarding process

Once you’ve selected a successful candidate (and they’ve hopefully accepted), the work doesn’t stop. When everyone is working remotely, it’s not possible to walk someone through the office, introduce them to their colleagues and management team and generally explain how things work. It’s also a lot more difficult to get a new employee to ‘shadow’ someone in order to learn the ropes. So your onboarding processes need to be much more thorough.

To help you think through the different things you want a new employee to do as part of their onboarding, consider breaking your employee onboarding into separate checklists. For example, you might have: pre-start day checklist, first-week checklist, and first-month checklist. You might include information you need them to provide, systems you want them to access and learn, people they should have introductory meetings with, company materials they should read (policies, vision statement, etc.), company videos to watch, and a list of their first tasks for them to complete. There may also be items for other people in the organisation to check off - e.g. setting up their email address, setting up accounts in various systems, sending out a welcome message and introduction, or checking in at various intervals to observe assimilation and iron out any issues.

Don’t be tempted to skimp on the onboarding as this is where recruitment of remote team members often fails. 

Get ready to recruit remotely

Recruiting for a remote workforce is not completely different from traditional recruiting, but it does present a few additional challenges. However, if these are tackled thoughtfully, there’s a whole world of opportunity available in terms of talent - and this might just be a key to your company's future success. When recruiting remotely, there can be a lot more volume of applicants for some positions, and also a lot more uncertainty. For both of these reasons, stronger systems and processes are needed to increase recruiting efficiency and rigour, while also making things as simple as possible for the new recruit.

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Find out more about KeyPay's integration with HR Partner.


Fiona Adler

Fiona Adler is a director of HR Partner, an online HR platform for small and medium businesses. Fiona is passionate about helping small and medium businesses get the tools and know-how to grow and streamline their operations. With a background in business consulting and an MBA, Fiona has worked with SMB’s for over 20 years - creating online solutions that help them operate in the best ways possible.

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