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Talent Matters: Seven Tips To Build A Strong Virtual Recruitment Strategy Business leaders need to build a forward-thinking virtual recruitment strategy, deliver an engaging candidate experience, and bring better remote talent to their teams.

By Tarek Salam

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A few years ago, companies did everything they could to avoid virtual recruitment. Many saw virtual recruiting as a last resort to attracting talent when they could not find a qualified candidate close enough to interview in the office. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in-person recruiting was no longer a safe or efficient hiring method, and companies had to adapt.

Today, most companies say at least half their recruitment process is virtual. Still, virtual recruiting takes time to get used to, and even more effort to get right. Instead of working out the bumps in front of prospective candidates, companies need to think ahead. Business leaders need to build a forward-thinking virtual recruitment strategy, deliver an engaging candidate experience, and bring better remote talent to their teams.

Streamlining the talent acquisition process and improving the candidate experience by expanding the hiring strategy to include virtual recruiting is becoming increasingly crucial for startups. It can reduce the time taken to hire, lower expenses, reduce conscious or unconscious bias from the recruitment process, and result in a more diverse pool of talent. The impact on the bottom line can be seen in more ways than one.

However, virtual recruitment is not without its challenges, and if startups don't prepare for the challenges of virtual recruitment, the hiring process can be derailed and deter qualified candidates. Two of the biggest challenges are limited communication and cultural differences. We tend to underestimate the importance of non-verbal communication cues– eye contact, space, posture, and touch communicate what we think and feel. Those methods of communication are eliminated or greatly reduced in virtual settings, which makes connecting with candidates more difficult. Likewise, if a team hasn't been properly trained on cultural inclusion, equity, and diversity, encountering cultural differences could exacerbate bias when hiring globally.

Related: Five Ways To Improve Company Culture

This brings us to the big question: how does one build a strong virtual recruitment strategy?

According to Aptitude Research, one in four companies won't reach their hiring goals this year. To get back on track, recruitment teams are trying to find more candidates in less time. Here's what startups can do to improve their virtual recruitment strategy and reach their hiring goals:

1. Know your legal requirements Recruitment laws get complex when you hire workers in another country. On the other hand, some countries aim to attract talent and expertise from all over the world. The UAE, for instance, has a remote work visa scheme to enable employees from all over the world to work remotely from the country. The one-year visa allows expatriates to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship, and work in line with terms and conditions issued with the visa. Another important point to consider is worker classifications. If you're recruiting independent contractors, you must comply with your candidate's local labor laws to avoid worker misclassification. Worker misclassification refers to wrongfully hiring and compensating a worker as a contractor instead of an employee.

2. Impress candidates with a strong employer brand An employer brand is your company's culture, mission, personality, and values. At least three in four adults consider a company's culture, mission, and values before applying to work for them, so you need to communicate yours effectively. Having a clear employer brand gives you an advantage over your competitors. If a job seeker visited your website, would they quickly understand your team values? If they see their values align with yours, you could win their application. Social media is one of the most effective tools for growing an employer brand, followed by websites and in-person/virtual recruiting events. You can share photos and videos from team gatherings, employee reviews from crowdsourcing websites like Glassdoor, or even a website page dedicated to your company culture –photos, videos, written content about perks and benefits– could paint a picture for candidates.

3. Offer benefits that attract remote talent Companies had to rethink their benefits coverage after the rise of remote work. American brand Staples found in a recent survey that 62% of employees would accept a lower salary for better workplace perks. This could be a gold mine for SMEs who are looking to recruit talent, but are cautious about the budget. Some of the most desirable perks and benefits for remote employees include a home office stipend (laptop, headphones, ergonomic chair, standing desk), unlimited paid time off, health insurance, mental health and wellness days, flexible working hours, and memberships to coworking spaces.

4. Screen candidates with skill-testing surveys Send tests early on in the recruitment process- between the initial candidate screening, and before virtual interviews. To show candidates you respect their time and effort, keep tests under three hours long. Skill-testing surveys demonstrate how a candidate would perform on your team. These surveys are digital, and they can be sent to multiple candidates at once, streamlining online recruiting.

Related: Get Your Facts Straight: Women In The MENA Workplace

5. Anticipate timezone challenges when scheduling interviews Virtual recruitment allows you to hire top talent from around the world. But scheduling interviews can get messy when you're dealing with different timezones- especially if you have a large pool of international candidates. Stop timezone differences from stalling your recruiting process by bookmarking an easy-to-use timezone conversion tool or app. You can also use scheduling softwares like Calendly to create a more collaborative experience. Calendly auto-detects users' time zones and adjusts their schedules accordingly, so you don't have to make any timezone calculations. Set your schedule, share your link with candidates, and let them choose the timeslot.

6. Replace cover letters with one-way video interviews Cover letters often read the same as a candidate's resume and can be quite cumbersome. If you're looking for a faster, more insightful way to learn about candidates in the recruiting process, try replacing cover letters with one-way video interviews. The questions on these could be those that aren't typically answered on resumes.

7. Finally, track and assess your recruitment process Companies need data to make decisions about talent, but most companies don't have the necessary information because they're not tracking it. When you gather and assess virtual recruitment data, you can make informed decisions and identify areas of improvement more easily. Data such cost per hire, time to hire, source of hire, job offer acceptance rates, and candidate experience ratings can all give SMEs the intel they need to streamline the virtual recruitment process.

Virtual recruiting gets complicated when you're drawing from an international talent pool. However, with the right strategy and the right tools, you can hire talent from countries over the world in minutes, cost-effectively, and with minimal effort. In fact, if you make use of the offering provided by my company, Deel, then the entire recruitment experience gets handled by local hiring experts, so you can focus on developing your team's talent.

Related: Nowhere To Go But Up: Hiring Practices In The Middle East

Tarek Salam

UAE Lead and Head of MENA Expansion at Deel

Tarek Salam is the UAE Lead and Head of MENA Expansion at Deel, the market leader in international payroll and compliance.

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