The future of recruitment and remote hiring

remote hiring
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Catalina Schveninger, Chief People Officer at FutureLearn, shares their expert advice on how employers can make the most of remote hiring

Since COVID-19 hit, companies across the world have had to adjust their recruitment and onboarding practices to ensure they are able to identify key talent and deliver a great candidate experience fully online. For many, this shift has made finding the right talent more difficult.

A new piece of research we commissioned found that 80% of UK recruiters across sectors including hospitality, retail, healthcare, social care and construction used at least one remote hiring technique during lockdown, 37% had found it more difficult to find the right talent, and 66% expected to move to a more hybrid model of hiring in the future.

Online hiring is clearly not just a knee-jerk reaction to the current situation but a longer-term shift in how employers will conduct the recruitment process, with many parallels to the continued remote working trends. While the pandemic has forced companies to accelerate this switch, many companies have since realised that the flexibility offered by remote practices actually works better for them and research from Mckinsey suggests that many employees feel they have been more productive since working from home. 

You don’t have to look far to see countless case studies of companies who are in no rush to return to the office. Analysis of mobile phone tracking data by the Centre for Cities think tank found that worker footfall across 63 of the UK’s largest town and city centres is significantly down, at just 17% of pre-lockdown levels in the last week of August. With no one in the office to interview and onboard, companies need to think carefully about how they can effectively recruit and onboard new hires.

Preparing recruiters for the new digital processes

Most people would agree that the lack of human interaction has been one of the most challenging aspects of the shift to remote working, and this poses real difficulties for onboarding new hires. While existing employees have formed prior social relationships which can be continued digitally, new hires may struggle to make meaningful connections and really feel like part of the team.

I believe that this is something that can be counteracted, or at least minimised, through good practice. Research into remote hiring found that a significant portion of recruiters (25%) felt that they needed more training to adapt to the new way of working to better support candidates.

Clarity is key in digital contexts

It is also important for employers to understand the context in which they are hiring. Applicants in this current climate are likely under a lot of pressure to find a job and may have lost their previous position. Because of this recruiters should double down on empathy and care. This means offering clarity and structure throughout the recruitment process, providing timely feedback at each stage and coaching hiring managers to also put candidates first.

Online recruitment as a chance to tackle biases

Despite the challenges it presents, online recruitment, when done correctly, can provide a real opportunity to significantly reduce unconscious bias and therefore improve diversity. However, employers must adjust their diversity processes to ensure they work for the new recruitment set up.

Employers must be sensitive to the fact that diverse candidates would previously have been able to get a feel for the workplace and its diversity by coming into the office, but this is obviously no longer an option for most businesses. That is why it’s all the more important to take steps towards putting the inclusivity of your company forward in a more meaningful way, for example by having a diverse interview panel so that interviewees can see that they’re well-represented at the company.

Ultimately, while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some disruption in recruitment if employers adapt successfully, remote hiring will soon become part of the norm and the quality of hiring decisions should not be impacted.


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