The pandemic had us all doing acrobatic feats. The swift summersault to remote working for most of us meant working from home. The commonly held assumption was that we’d soon be back in the office when "the pandemic is over" but the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants put an end to that. Remote working has since established itself as our new working norm – but with a twist. It could mean working from home 12,000 kilometres away, anywhere and, for some, like those people in the gig economy, at any time.
If you’re still reckoning with the concept of remote work, consider the statistics – after just one year, there was an 87 per cent increase in people working remotely compared to pre-pandemic times. And 56 per cent of companies around the world now offer some form of remote work flexibility.
So, how do you hire for these remote positions? Pre-pandemic practices will no longer suffice – it is a backflip to reprove recruitment strategies. So remote recruitment needs to be innovative, entrepreneurial, fast and, essentially, factor in retention.
Reality of remote recruitment
Remote recruitment is a seismic opportunity to source talent further afield, including in emerging markets. However, it’s still competitive and regardless of the international sourcing pool, you can’t expect the world…
Revisit job descriptions
Business models have changed in the way they operate, and so too must job descriptions if they are to harmonise with business objectives. Abandon dull job descriptions, bullet points and lists of tasks and instead amplify and concisely speak of requirements, communicating clearly what success now looks like for remote workers.
New hires may be from different cultures and English may not be their first language, which is why you’ll need to be creative in conveying the job description so it can be fully understood. A video job description as well as a written one may achieve this and assist retention.
Depending on recruitment volume, you may need a recruitment-specific customer relationship management (CRM) system to track communication and traction. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is valuable for efficiently screening and identifying talent and reducing the impact of human bias. But as AI uses algorithms, it can also unwittingly make the problem worse by baking in and deploying biases at scale in sensitive application areas. So also use tools such as LinkedIn to verify resume details and common networks.
The ideal job advertisement is attractive, alluring and not necessarily too specific. It’s not a job description and should be open enough to encourage applications rather than to screen candidates out. Research appropriate job boards according to the industry and country you’re in. In the current market, there’s no guarantee a job advertisement will source suitable candidates, so concurrently headhunt or utilise a recruitment agency with knowledge and reach.
The virtual interview
Enlightened virtual interviewers consider culture and language. For example, direct eye contact for some cultures is frowned upon but in Western culture it’s expected. Sensitivity, understanding, reserving judgement and being attuned to your own cultural frame of reference will help you to avoid misinterpretation and missed hiring opportunities.
Understanding people’s living conditions and family situations will assist with a strong engagement and future retention so need to know people’s stories better than ever before. Design interview questions specific to job descriptions and success markers. Suppose accountability and responsibility are now higher requirements and ask questions to discover these attributes. Use different scenarios to test the critical attributes and if flexibility of hours is a criterion, book interviews that require flexibility from the interviewee.
Panel and multiple interviews provide a broader scope for accurate assessment. The advantage of our remote world is convenience, which you can use to conduct interviews succinctly and efficiently. Involve colleagues for different perspectives, such as a designated observer, to take note of all areas, including body language. Introducing multiple people assists with the engagement of your potential new hire – and remember, it is a two-way street.
In 1969, before it became our reality, the idea of remote work was predicted by Alan Kiron and his ‘dominetics’. He investigated how computers and new communication tools could change life and work and now, here we are. What if we’d clued on to what Kiron was advocating 50 years ago? Perhaps we would’ve been well ahead of the curve by now if we had.
Don’t let the attachment to habitual norms and pre-pandemic/prehistoric thinking and recruitment methods hold back the future potential of your business.
Roxanne Calder, author of ‘Employable: 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future’, is the Founder and Managing Director of EST10, one of Sydney’s most successful administration recruitment agencies. Calder is passionate about uncovering people’s potential and watching their careers soar.