Remote recruiting and hiring: What HR needs to know to make it work

Remote new hire at outdoor table on laptop in an onboarding meeting

Something we've talked about a few times on here is how much we've learned about recruiting processes in the past year, but there's one area we've not yet explored that's really taken off — how remote recruiting and remote hiring work. I've spoken with several HR pros, particularly in the small to mid-sized business (SMB) space, who have said the past year has redefined how they see the possibilities for their organization around remote workers. For that reason, I wanted to explore a couple important baseline ideas to help HR succeed if you're considering moving in this direction.


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Keeping the process personal

Transitioning from the kinds of mostly local, in-person recruiting and hiring approaches many SMBs previously engaged in to screening and interviewing over computers is jarring, and you need to make sure you preserve the personal touch that makes people want to work for your organization. The first step here is fairly straightforward — get a handle on what you've done well with your existing processes so far. There are a few ways to go about this:

  • Collect employee feedback: Get a quick pulse from your people, especially those who are new, about what they most enjoyed or thought could be improved about their recruiting and hiring experiences. This will not only show you what to highlight remotely, but also set you up to improve existing processes.
  • Evaluate hiring team practices: Collaborate with managers and other stakeholders commonly involved in the different stages of your hiring process to get a picture of how smoothly bringing in a candidate typically goes, which will again show you where you'll need to get more efficient in order to handle remote recruiting and hiring, which typically requires faster response times.
  • Evaluate your HR technology: Recruiting and hiring remotely requires a modern HR system that's unified and streamlined. Make sure the solution you have in place is up to the challenge, because manual, paper processes just won't cut it in this scenario.

With a lay of the land under your belt and perhaps a few starting action items, you can move on to fine-tuning your remote hiring strategy to maximize the experience and ensure remote applicants and new hires feel supported and engaged during every step:

  • Applicant experience: It pays to think like a marketer here. How are you promoting your jobs? How integrated are your job listings into your main website? Do you present a consistent brand and culture? Is everything accessible on mobile devices? These are just a few of the questions to ask to ensure you can present well to applicants who may not know you from their local area. Also think about the interview experience and whether you'll need to be doing video calls, letting candidates do presentations, or even bringing the candidate onsite and what budget you have set aside for that.
  • New hire experience: What happens after you decide to hire a candidate? Does communication tend to drop off between the offer letter and day one of work? After day one, how reliant is your organization on in-person interactions during onboarding? To avoid having your remote team members second guess their acceptance and possibly leave before their first day or shortly after, you need constant, honest communication and a preboarding experience that introduces remote new hires to your culture and key resources so they get engaged right off the bat and hit the ground running.
  • Hiring team experience: If your hiring team can't efficiently process requests, discuss candidates, and have their evaluations considered, your remote recruiting efforts will still ultimately stall out as candidates go through your hiring phases. That's why you need to have a single workspace, preferably a part of your wider HR solution, that consolidates all the tasks around hiring into a single view so you can monitor progress easily the hiring teams can stay on track. Sentiment analysis can also be a huge help here because it can automatically sort through hiring team evaluations and summarize common feelings on candidates so HR can get back to them quickly and keep things moving.

When all these different experiences come together, you'll be able to engage with remote candidates and new hires with a similar degree of care you would those in the office.

Monitoring remote work regulations

The other side of this coin perhaps isn't as fun as crafting a personal and engaging recruiting and onboarding experience, but it's just as essential to the health of your business. There's a lot of complexity when it comes to compliance around remote work, and you have to be ready to take that on when you decide to expand your reach to recruit and hire remotely. SMBs especially can't afford potential risks and penalties, so it pays to put some thought in here. These are some regulatory aspects to keep in mind as you define your strategy:

  • Tax rules: Different states handle remote work in different ways when it comes to the withholdings employers should deduct. You need to make sure you can handle a variety of different rules in an automated way that doesn't add a lot of administrative overhead when hiring remote employees.
  • Leave laws: Many states have put in place specific regulations around paid family and medical leave. Make sure you know which laws are applicable to which of your remote team members and ensure that you can track and allocate their leave appropriately in your HR system.
  • Fair scheduling: Another set of regulations coming up more frequently at the state and even the local level is scheduling fairness. Especially if you're recruiting and hiring remotely for hourly positions, you have to think about how you're scheduling your people working out of other locations and be able to automatically adjust to fit the standards that exist there.

These by no means represent all the regulatory compliance concerns that hiring remote employees can bring up, so make sure you're consulting with your organization's legal counsel as part of your planning for remote recruiting.

Conclusion: Hiring remotely is a powerful new option for businesses of all sizes

It may seem intimidating given all the considerations I've just listed off, but the reality is that with a few simple steps you can unlock a world of new recruiting possibilities for your organization. SMBs can think outside the box to find the talent they so desperately need as they rebuild in the next year, and can even discover new growth potential.

Make sure you do your due diligence and plan correctly to make your entrance into remote recruiting and hiring a success. With the right HR technology in place, these kinds of planning efforts can be greatly simplified, ensuring you gain a lot of value from your new recruiting strategy.

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