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Taking an Employee-First Approach to Hiring in Today's Remote-First Climate

These five tips will help your company succeed in hiring excellent employees while using an employee-first mindset.

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For most of my nearly 25-year career in B2B software sales and marketing, I have worked as a remote employee. But when I started in 2000, this way of working was fairly uncommon. Those of us with remote jobs learned to favor the arrangement for the same reasons that so many of today's post-pandemic employees and companies are advocating for remote-first or hybrid jobs.

In a world where the core of a business thrived at its headquarters and office cubicles, employers tolerated remote positions, not for productivity gains or improved employee satisfaction, but because in some cases, it meant getting the right talent on board, especially at a leadership level when a position couldn't be filled locally.

In other situations, locating a sales or customer support position in a certain geography was less costly and provided better customer coverage than locating everyone centrally. Sales and support results have always been metrics-driven; however, there was a nagging discomfort that employees who were not office-based might not be working as much as they said they were.

Related: It's Time to Focus on This Vital Missing Piece of the Workplace Puzzle

As vanguard non-office employees without today's tools, we learned to invent and adapt. Email, although cumbersome, helped us share information. When signatures were required, we overnighted proposals and contracts. We traveled to meetings with customers. We flew candidates back and forth for job interviews. We successfully managed teams remotely with conference calls and in-person meetings in central locations a few times a month.

Insightly is now a 100% remote business. This has been an ideal opportunity for me to apply my career and recent experience in remote work to gain a fast-start to recruiting, onboarding and managing talent in the midst of today's talent wars and "The Great Resignation." That said, here are my top five tips to help your company succeed in hiring excellent employees with an employee-first approach:

Match candidates with open roles before the first interview

Today's talent wars make recruiting tougher than ever. The services of trusted and experienced recruiters are invaluable. Don't rely on a single source, but don't over-shop. An effective approach could be having two recruiting partners, one to specialize in local candidates and another with national reach. Build relationships: The more that recruiters understand your business and culture, the better candidates they will find. Don't delegate entirely. When the recruiter presents candidates, investigate the candidate's online persona on social media and job posting sites. If a candidate isn't on LinkedIn, especially for technology or sales roles, this is likely a red flag.

Use digital conferencing software to create comfortable, transparent interviews

Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace and others are made for this task. When no one has to travel, it is easy to introduce candidates to cross-functional managers from across the company. Introduce finance candidates to the director of marketing. Set up conversations between a top sales hire and the chief technology officer. Introduce key contributors to C-suite executives, including the CEO. These virtual meetings can be specific and targeted. Role descriptions should show the personality of the company.

Related: 4 Ways to Strengthen Recruitment, Retention and Engagement in the Wake of the Great Resignation

Talk to candidates the way they want to be talked to. Share with them what they want to learn

There is a focus and intensity to Zoom interviews. Use this two-way opportunity to really listen and to be heard. Interviews aren't just to learn about the candidate. These are ideal opportunities to share the company's culture. That is hugely important to today's candidates and reputation-building for the company. Conversational stories show the authentic heart and soul of the business. At Insightly, for example, our mission statement is to empower companies to build long-lasting relationships with their customers. We tell candidates the stories that our customers tell us — stories about how they used our products to help their customers.

Be straightforward about how your company views hybrid work

As my career illustrates, remote work isn't new. What is new is how quickly it has become accepted and expected by employees, becoming the default instead of the exception. Remote opportunities grew from 4% of all high paying jobs before the pandemic to more than 15% today. Removing geography as a barrier sets a company up to make phenomenal hires.

A recent PwC study reports that nearly three-fourths of companies surveyed offer hybrid work schedules, which is vital to compete for talent because among workers who say they can work remotely, most want to continue that way. Not everyone likes to spend money on cars, gasoline, new suits or lunches. Employees have complex lives and appreciate flexibility. Many other parts of their lives are digital, so it feels natural that work collaborations are as well.

Related: 12 Pro Tips That Will Increase Company Retention

Develop a deliberate, engaging onboarding process

Schedule out the new hires the first two weeks. Reinforce the cross-functional culture that you introduced during interviews with follow-up one-on-ones. Pull new hires into team meetings. Encourage new hires to set up some one-on-ones on their own.

Have a ready plan to proactively mentor younger and less experienced employees — they will have less business experience (maybe none) in an office environment. They will have less ability to read between the lines and prioritize. Be super clear and intentional in all communications. Remember that teaching is learning, and the youngest members on the team may actually know the most about certain things.

When the pandemic turned the business world upside down, and remote work became the default across the country instead of the exception, I was already a believer. Thanks to my personal experience working and managing remote over many years when most of my peers went off to the office every day, I have both lived and learned the benefits of remote-first work. During the pandemic, I was recruited entirely remotely as CMO of Insightly. I am more convinced than ever that the benefits of remote-first and hybrid work will produce an enormous, positive impact for both companies and coinciding careers.

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