Five mistakes to avoid when recruiting remote employees

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The last two years have seen the trend for remote, home and hybrid working (opens in new tab) accelerate, and more companies than ever are now happy to hire staff who never even come into the office.

There’s plenty of evidence that it’s a great move. A survey (opens in new tab) by FlexJobs has found that 58% of staff want to continue working remotely once the pandemic is over. A Mercer study (opens in new tab) discovered that 70% of companies were considering switching to hybrid work, and other studies have found that remote workers are 35% more productive than in-office colleagues.

If you want to recruit staff to work remotely, though, there are some extra considerations – it’s not as simple as following your conventional recruitment process and hoping for the best.

Remote working is relatively new to lots of people, though, so it’s understandable if some of the potential pitfalls don’t occur until it’s too late. And that’s also why we’ve rounded up some of the big mistakes to avoid right here – so you can make your remote recruitment as smooth as possible.

If you want to find remote staff or if you’re searching for a remote job, our pick of the top US job sites (opens in new tab) is a great place to start. If you want ATS software to manage your remote recruitment, we’ve got you covered there too – head here for our verdict on the best recruitment platforms (opens in new tab) around.

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Find the Right People

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Not finding the right people

Most recruiters, managers, and HR staff will know what they’re looking for in fresh staff, but if you want staff for a remote position, you need to consider different traits, skills, and attributes.

Remote workers don’t just need the skills needed to perform their new job. Good remote employees need to be comfortable with technology, they need to have great written and verbal communication skills, and they need to be good at making decisions, staying motivated and working without constant supervision.

You’ve got to make sure that remote staff can cope with an isolated working environment and that they’re great at organizing themselves. They also need to maintain a solid work/life balance, so they don’t get burned out.

If you want to find people who can handle remote work, make sure you advertise your vacancies in the right place. Most of the big job sites now have specific options so employers can list remote positions and help candidates find them easily, but look beyond Monster (opens in new tab), Indeed (opens in new tab), and LinkedIn (opens in new tab), too.

Sites like FlexJobs (opens in new tab) specifically list remote and freelance opportunities, so if you want to hire a remote worker, then you should list your position there, too. Also consider posting on niche job boards for your industry if you want to hire a specialist.

And, as ever, don’t hire in a rush and don’t hire cheaply if you can help it. Whether you need remote or in-office staff, that will always reduce your chance of success.

Provide loads of detail

If you want to hire remote staff, then you need to provide as much detail as possible about the company and the role when you list your vacancy. This should start with the job description and flow throughout the interview and onboarding process, so everyone involved has all the required information.

This should include the role’s responsibilities and expectations alongside its chain of command and level of pay. Also detail the apps, software, and processes your new hire should use and their working hours. You should also supply loads of information about your company’s mission, culture, and structure.

With staff working across different time zones, if people have more information about every facet of their jobs, they can work smoothly and solve problems. And this process needs to start during recruitment, with a comprehensive job description and loads of information about your company.

HR

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Make sure you use an ATS

Lots of remote roles receive many more applications than conventional jobs, and that can quickly prove overwhelming for even the most experienced recruiters and HR staff.

If you’re faced with loads of applications, then it’s worth using an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS (opens in new tab). This software organizes and automates most of the recruitment service, so you’re easily able to collect and sort through applications by key attributes – so you can quickly identify good candidates and discard those who aren’t suitable.

A solid ATS will collate information about candidates, monitor their recruitment process, and guide them through interview and onboarding procedures. Many ATS packages also have social media (opens in new tab) and email (opens in new tab) options alongside integration with existing software.

Loads of ATS packages include assessment tests, so you can find out if candidates have the skills required by the job. Many also include anonymized screening to evaluate applicants for personality traits, soft skills, and cultural fits.

Anyone who’s serious about remote recruitment should use an ATS to organize, evaluate and manage your job applicants. That’s even more important for remote positions, where you won’t be able to gauge certain traits and factors due to a lack of in-person contact.

Interview and onboard properly

You may well have to interview candidates over video for many remote positions, and the lack of in-person contact means you’ve got to pay particular attention to other factors because you can’t read social cues or body language as easily.

Make sure you ask questions tailored to the candidate’s ability to work remotely and ask if they’ve worked remotely before. Be just as extensive as you would with an in-person interview and consider having a multi-stage process to really test each candidate.

Decide in advance how the interviews should take place, the technology needed, and how each candidate will be evaluated.

Once you’ve offered the job to the best candidate, they need to go through a great onboarding process. This procedure is supposed to introduce a new hire to the business, and it’s an area that is often neglected with remote hires.

But don’t do that if you want them to work well and stay loyal – instead, treat this process as importantly as you would with an in-person hire. Ensure they’re introduced to team members, make sure they’ve got all the resources and documentation they need, provide information about collaboration (opens in new tab) and make sure they’re comfortable.

Of course, much of this process may have to be electronic with a remote hire, but that doesn’t mean that steps can be skipped or minimized. And, if you can make it happen, try to interview and onboard in-person if possible – even if the employee’s work will be remote.

Treat remote workers properly

It’s all too easy for managers to forget about remote staff – out of sight, out of mind. But if you want to make people feel happy and ensure they can work well, your remote staff need to feel as valued as your in-person employees.

A good onboarding process is a great start, but beyond this make sure you communicate well with your remote staff so they don’t feel abandoned.

Make sure that your whole team can communicate easily, so remote staff don’t feel left out of discussions and decisions – even if those chats are light-hearted rather than business-critical. And don’t just hold in-person events: consider remote and hybrid events to ensure that remote staff feel included. Also bear in mind time zones and cultural differences when you communicate with staff or plan events.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.