Since the pandemic-induced lockdown, remote working has gone viral—but most companies still have some work to do when it comes to remote hiring.
Gone are the days of businesses associating working from home with employees spending their days on the couch Netflix-ing—today, ‘going remote’ has new meaning and relevance.
Here are just a few of the big benefits remote working options offer:
- A wider candidate pool that enables businesses to find top talent, no matter where they're based.
- Team members get their work done on their terms (a BIG plus for employee retention).
- Remote employees can save the company money and increase overall productivity.
Despite the knowledge that remote working rocks, actually hiring remote employees can be tough.
Whether your company has gone 100% remote, partly remote, or is still in the process of mulling it over, there are plenty of ways to get the quality hires you need—even without the traditional face-to-face hiring we’re used to.
Not sure where to start? This step-by-step guide will walk you through the A to Z's of how to hire remote employees.
Remote work post-2020: Pants optional, culture mandatory
The first thing you need to know is that remote work is here to stay.
Since Covid hit, the number of US remote workers has leapt from 7% to a whopping 55%, with 74% of those employers saying they plan to stay remote permanently.
What started with a baby step toward letting employees have a little more autonomy for half a day per week has evolved into a global best practice utilized by some of the world's best employer brands.
Here are just some of the latest stats on remote jobs:
- According to a 2020 Gartner report, organizations should expect that 75% of their staff will ask to expand their remote work hours by 35%.
- Remote workers are 35% to 40% more productive than people who work in corporate offices.
- 74% of workers would quit their job if offered more flexible options elsewhere.
From work-from-home (WFH) policies at household names like BT and Dell, to fully remote teams at major tech players like Basecamp and GitHub, the increase in companies that are now hiring remote employees is huge—now, companies of all shapes and sizes are adapting in response to world events and the demands of today's talent market.
Let's take a closer look at how to hire remote employees like the best of them. (Hint: it all starts by matching your culture with your recruitment process!)
7 simple steps on how to hire remote employees (and avoid instruction overload)
Step 1: Define your company culture
First things first, you can't find a good culture fit if you’re not sure what your culture actually is.
And trust us, we get it. It can be hard to see who you really are when your face is so close to the mirror. But when it comes to leading a successful remote team, you MUST define your company's culture and guiding values before you can find the qualified candidates you need.
Sit down with your team leads and other internal influencers to find out how they really feel about the team culture.
Ask the following culture-related questions:
- Do you expect your team to be rapid-responders via Slack, email or other channels?
- Or do you expect them to unplug every day for deep work?
- Do all your team members need to present a certain way on Zoom calls? Or only those with client-facing roles?
- Camera on, camera off, or either? And why? What value does that align with?
- What about time off for mental health and homeschooling?
- What about DEI? How do you uphold diversity values in a remote team?
While you might have one idea of the company’s culture, other people may have a completely different perspective. Even if you have to resort to an anonymous survey, it’s better to get candid opinions than to make promises you can't keep.
Key takeaway #1: Work with your team to create a solid definition of your company culture.
Step 2: Revamp your job description
If you're one of the best at offering a work perk that 99% of workers want, why not say that loud and clear?
Write a standout job description that includes your awesomely attractive remote work policy.
But be warned. Writing a job description for a remote position is very different than writing a job description for an in-house role. You need to be 100% crystal clear about what your expectations are, right from the jump.
Let applicants know what a remote position with your company actually means, as well as how the rest of the team ticks.
Here are the things to think about.
Is the company fully remote or distributed?
If you're already a fully remote team, you're probably comfortable onboarding new remote employees. But that may not be the case for your competitors. With many job seekers preferring to apply for fully-remote roles, that puts you firmly ahead of the competition. 👍🏻
Don't be afraid to play up the aspects of your position that are above and beyond what other remote roles typically offer. Think: regular virtual team hangouts, subscription to top remote working tools, etc.
Whatever it is, make sure you spell it out for those candidates that are comparing your open position to the competition's.
On the other hand, if your company is distributed—meaning some employees work in the office and others are remote—be sure to include information on where your headquarters is for local applicants, while emphasizing the fact that the entire company (whether remote or non-remote) works together as a team.
What are the position’s core requirements?
Many remote job descriptions include certain parameters for their positions. While some of these may seem obvious, it’s better to be transparent about your expectations ahead of time.
Let applicants know what type of tech you’d prefer them to have, if your company requires a certain wifi speed, how the team communicates and what software or tools they’ll need to have access to.
Are you actively seeking diverse applicants?
To improve on your DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) credentials, you need to focus on using inclusive language from day one.
Lose the gender-themed words like “dominant” or “caring”, and check out The Conscious Style Guide for clear tips and insights into inclusive language.
Is there a certain time zone you’d like your applicant’s schedule to line up with?
Sometimes having clients in Japan and a marketing team in New York is just fine. Other times, it simply won't work.
Think about which teams need to communicate and collaborate, and when.
Wasted time is a bummer in every part of the world so it’s best to be open about this information right up front in the job ad.
Also, be sure to let applicants know if there's a specific time frame they’ll need to keep available for any meetings or communication with clients or other teams.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any hard and fast scheduling requirements, be sure to let them know they'll be 100% free to set their own schedule.
Key takeaway #2: Create a standout job description that represents who you are, your company values, and what you expect from your dream employee.
Step 3: Promote your job listing in all the right places
Next, the goal is to get as many eyeballs on your shiny new job ad as possible.
Go ahead and share your open position on all the most popular free job boards (you can do this in just one click with Breezy). But make sure to also actively source remote employees who have the potential to bring important new ideas and perspectives to your team.
For that, you may want to go niche.
Here are a few of the top job boards for remote employees:
- FlexJobs: Great for posting fully remote and contract positions.
- Remote.co: Popular remote job listing site that includes both job listings and a directory of remote companies.
- We Work Remotely: Community for remote workers to find great jobs.
- Working Nomads: Appeals to the digital nomad culture and helps them find new job opportunities.
- RemoteOK: Another great job board for remote roles.
There are also a ton of great job boards targeting awesomely diverse and underrepresented workforce talent. If you're after high-quality candidates and true culture add, these are definitely worth checking out.
Key takeaway #3: Share your open roles on all the top free job boards. If you’re a Breezy user, you can do this in just one click.
Step 4: Screen your applicants
With LinkedIn in the mix, resumes and cover letters are becoming less of the norm—and nowhere does that ring truer than in the remote world. These quick-application options can often mean a ton of new applicants and no extra time to sort through them. 😲
But never fear—there are plenty of quick-step solutions that can eliminate the time/cost conundrum.
- Invest in an ATS: Automatic screening tools can cut through the extra time-load, making screening a breeze.
- Ask candidates for an intro: It's good practice to ask applicants to send some sort of introductory paragraph (a.k.a. an employer love note) to get a feel for who they are as a person and how engaged and enthusiastic they are.
- Knuckle down on assessments: Personality and skills assessments like DISC and others offer ways to get a better idea of a candidate’s soft skills and industry knowledge. Some employers (like superstar Power BI firm, P3) opt to include an assessment to help determine their phone screen or interview shortlist.
- Integrate assessment tools: If you're using an ATS with an open API (like Breezy 😉), you can integrate any assessment tool and easily add notes to keep track of your thoughts on each candidate as you drag and drop them from stage to stage.
Key takeaway #4: Create the ultimate shortlist by integrating your assessment tool with a smart ATS.
Not willing to compromise on quality? Find out how Brie Davis at Transformation Church uses a 3-Step Process to Hire Perfect-fit Candidates for Her Volunteer-based Organization.
Step 5: Conduct video interviews
When you can't shake a candidate's hand in person, a virtual coffee date is the next best thing. ☕
With video, you can pick up on those behavioral insights you might not otherwise get access to on a phone call. You'll see the way the candidate speaks and get a better feel for their true personality and mannerisms. Note: avoid bias within your org by not putting too much focus on this for non-client-facing roles.
The key is to keep it casual, yet professional—focus on conducting the interview as you would in person.
And if you're committed to culture add, it's best to avoid a one-and-done interview.
Different companies require different interview processes, so think about a process that provides an awesome (virtual) experience for the candidate, while reflecting your brand's true culture and values.
Key takeaway #4: Give your candidates a glimpse into how you work by making video a standard part of the hiring process for every remote role.
Need help with interview questions? Check out our guide to The Problem-Solving Interview: 15 Cliché-Busting Questions to Help You Find Your Next Rockstar.
Step 6: Offer a paid test project
Once you’ve narrowed your candidate pool down to a limited number of qualified applicants, it’s a good idea to test their skills with real work specific to your company.
This is especially important for remote roles where you'll be up against all the challenges of asynchronous communication without the luxury of being able to lean over and ask your new team member a question.
Here’s how to rock the candidate assessment:
- Put together a sample test of real work they’d be doing on the job or offer them a trial period to see how well they assimilate into the role. This helps you get a better idea of which candidate meshes best with the existing team.
- Provide clear instructions and a firm deadline for when the pilot project is due.
- Remember the candidate is still doing work for your company and you need to pay them for it. Even in the remote realm, the market for quality talent is tight—expecting free work is never a good look.
Key takeaway #6: To get a solid feel for who you’re talking to, ask candidates to complete a paid assessment project.
Want an insider glimpse into startup hiring done right? See how Sarah Corboliou, Head of Employee Success at Unito.io, finds quality hires, step-by-step.
Step 7: Focus on DEI
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) should be top of the agenda for any business, but when it comes to remote working there are some specific challenges to overcome.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started on your DEI journey:
Use tech for an inclusive hiring process
The great thing about remote work is the purpose-built tools that can help minimize bias and increase workplace diversity. Tools like Checkr can support candidates with a criminal record, while Breezy’s easy candidate management features can help empower blind-screening processes—so hiring managers can focus entirely on a candidate’s experience, instead of their personal background.
Stacey Gordon, DEI expert and CEO of ReworkWork, says bias-free hiring is all about the tools you use. “The right tools can help you weed out the unconscious hurdles that keep you from hiring the best person for the job,” she says.
Level the playing field
Justine Shu, Marketing & Community Manager at remote job board We Work Remotely, believes the best companies that hire remote employees are those that take an equity-focused approach.
She told Breezy, “One of the biggest challenges for employers that work for remote-friendly organizations is being seen and feeling included. One way to tackle this is in meetings, instead of having everyone in-house sit around the table in the boardroom, make the meeting virtual for everyone. Don’t just make chat protocol available for those working remotely, make it the protocol for everyone. Level the playing field.”
Become a remote hiring wizard
This remote work thing isn't going away.
If you're ready to widen your talent pool and score some of the ace productivity benefits remote employees can deliver, it's time to uplevel your remote hiring and make remote work a permanent reality for your business.
With a great strategy, the right tools, and a strong team behind you, getting the right fit remotely is much easier than it seems.