If you're just starting out, read this quick primer on hiring first. It will take you through the basics including setting up an applicant tracking system (ATS) and the make-up of a top-notch recruiting function.
Alternately, if you have a hiring process set up but have never run it fully remotely... never fear, as long as this thing lasts - we've got you!
Hiring Fully Remote Employees
There are a few ways that hiring remote employees differs from in-office hiring.
✅First, some personality types and working styles will do better in a partially or fully remote environment, others will not.
✅Second, and we realize this is repetitive by now, but everything must be documented and a thorough process must be followed for each and every search.
✍️Clear and concise writing: in a remote environment most communication happens via the written word whether email, instant messages or group chats. People who aren't able to express themselves clearly without being overly verbose will struggle.
😬Tactful communication: as we mentioned in communication best practices showing tact and "assuming benevolence" is a vital part of thriving in a distributed work environment. An individual who is abrupt or rude (and can't rapidly change that habit) will rankle the rest of the team and won't set themselves or others up for success. This is extremely important to screen for in management roles.
📲Tech-savvy: this is a must in our rapidly evolving world. Almost all knowledge work at this point is reliant on technology to some point and that trend will only grow in the coming years. If a candidate doesn't have the ability to rapidly learn new tools they'll quickly fall behind.
🤔High EQ: emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important part of being able to communicate well in a fully distributed environment. A person who is empathetic to others will be able to sense when an idea or mode of communication isn't getting through, and change tactics whether it's hopping on a call or outlining their idea differently based on the group of individuals they are interacting with.
🧭Self-motivated: When the structure of coming into an office on a set schedule is lifted, professionals who aren't already self-driven will suffer. Self-motivation can be learned but when hiring a role that is remote it's far simpler to start with an individual who already possesses this trait.
What's really important in all-remote is that you are a manager of one. You're not going to have someone expecting you at the office. You're not going to have hour-to-hour hand-holding, so you have to be able to work independently and manage yourself. — GitLab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij
🏆Trustworthy: Going back to our chapter on managing a remote team, trust across a company is vital to make remote work, work. Hiring employees who have shown a high-level of trustworthiness across their career and their personal life is vital in building a great team.
These are usually good-to-haves but there are exceptions depending on your company, the role and environment (e.g. is it peace time or war time).
- Non-work support system
- Hobby projects that show drive
The Remote Recruiting Process
Your Recruiting Team
There is a concept of a "full-cycle recruiter" thats floated around for as long as recruiting has been a thing — the net-net is that one person handles every part of the hiring process. This is a stretch in a traditional environment, but absolutely untenable in a remote environment. Why? Because when you're hiring for a fully-remote role expect to get up to 20x as many candidates as normal.
This is one of the reasons it's vital to build out a solid recruiting team and with clearly defined responsibilities. At my agency, Avra Talent, we came up with the five disciplines of hiring which I'll briefly review below.
The Strategist: If you are responsible for hiring a specific role, you'll be acting as the Strategist.
A good Strategist can assesses the landscape and create a game plan to ensure they hire the best people, for the right roles, regardless of the employment climate. The Strategist lives by the ideal that the right person is out there; and that it’s their job as problem-solvers to find those candidates.
The Domain Expert: When hiring “firsts” within a company or department (e.g. you first product person, your first SDR, your first digital marketer) it’s vital that someone on the hiring team has domain expertise in what *great* actually looks like in that role. Perhaps your background is in B2B Sales with enough insight into the other parts of the sales machine that you act as the Domain Expert for all sales-related hiring at your company. If this is the case it’s doubtful that you’re also an expert in HR or Product Management. So when those roles come up, it’s time to tap another expert to help set the bar of excellence and vet on quality.
The Interviewer: If you’re a one-person shop, you’ll have to fill this role. Interviewers screen candidates as they go through the recruiting funnel. That includes gauging written applications, disqualifying people who don’t meet the requirements or fail to follow instructions and conducting phone or video screens with promising candidates. Interviewers need to be good conversationalists who can assess someone while also selling them on the company and role.
The Recruiting Coordinator: plays a vital part of any well run hiring process. Similar to an Executive Assistant, the Coordinator manages calendars, puts together dossiers and handles all of the scheduling back and forth that is involved in filling an open role. A good Coordinator takes extreme ownership over the communication aspect of each search, making sure new or changing information gets disseminated quickly and accurately, to keep everyone involved in the hiring process on the same page.
Even if you personally are filling all other functions of the Five Disciplines, I still strongly suggest investing in a great Coordinator. This can be a part-time role or you could borrow capacity from someone within your company who has a keen attention to detail and is highly organized.
The Sourcer: This will be needed for high-level and harder to find roles, a good Sourcer has a passion for research and utilizes pattern recognition to find non-traditional candidates as well as obvious fits. Once they locate and engage with a potentially interested candidate, they hand off their information to the Interviewer who will have an in-depth conversation to both sell them on the role while also vetting them to make sure they are a fit. You can fill this role internally or pay a service to provide you with vetted passive leads.
Now that you know the difference between the Five Disciplines of Hiring you need to do a quick cost-benefit analysis on whether you handle these differing roles; or if you can afford to tap internal or external resources.
- Tap investors or advisors as D.E.s
- Interns or admins can also pinch-hit as Coordinators
- Contractors (Upwork, etc.)
- Consultants (Avra Talent, etc.)
A Compelling Job Description
Have you ever had to hire for a role, sat down to build out the job description, then your mind goes completely blank?
After a few minutes of rumination, you type “Job Description for [X ROLE]” into the ole’ Google. This is usually followed by a mind numbing combination of results and seriously ugly web pages, that all seem to have the same generic format…
We’ve all been there, but as much as it may save time up front e, DO NOT take the easy way out by cutting + pasting some generic job description into your company’s AngelList account and walk away.
You will be entering a WORLD of hurt when random people start flooding in and you have nothing to actually measure them against, you’ll also miss a bunch of the best candidates who are only going to be attracted by an authentic and compelling job description.
Step 1: Reverse architect the role
The correct way to hire is by first starting with the end in mind. A great way to do this is using a whiteboard, or pen and paper.
✍️ Write out the company’s goals and vision, then think about how this role flows up into the bigger picture.
- What impact will a great hire in this role make on your company in 3-months, 6-months, 12-months time?
- What quantifiable results will they produce?
- How will they be a net-positive addition to your company’s culture?
🔍Drill down into this with the following…
- Why is [X CO] an awesome place, for the right person, to work?
- What is your company’s culture? Is it clarified into stated core values? What words describe your company’s culture?
- What does a great culture fit look like, why?
- What makes your company stand-out (weird, quirky, awesome, etc)?
- What has the company growth been in the last year, what do you expect in the next year?
Now that you have brainstormed a few of these questions, ideally with other stakeholders who will report to, support or work with the new hire, it’s time for step 2—building out a Compelling job description.
Step 2: Building your job description
A Compelling Job Description is composed of:
- Job Title
- Location (remote)
- Compensation range and benefits (if applicable)
- Company’s Mission
- Why the role exists
- Objective Outcomes
- Core Competencies
- Hard Skills
- Personal and Professional Attributes
- Other Responsibilities (optional)
- How to Apply
For more help on creating this see a detailed post here.
The Recruiting Funnel
As with most things in life, you get out of a hiring process what you put into it. We call this a Recruiting Funnel and it acts as a roadmap for each role you’re hiring for. Some Recruiting Funnels are more complex than others, depending on the role, demand in the market, seniority, pay, etc.
A thorough Recruiting Funnel will look something like:
- Filling the Funnel
- The Interview Process
- Application Questionnaire
- Test Task or Written Follow-up
- Initial Phone Screen
- Email follow up
- Second interview
- Test Project
- Reference Check
Consistently Executed Process
However you set up your team and recruiting processes one of the most important things to do is to be consistent. With remote hiring expect to get flooded with applicants. Taking the time beforehand to build out screening questions that will quickly disqualify the majority of people who aren't a fit is essential to running a good process.
Also, remember each candidate who interacts with your brand will either leave feeling good about your company or feeling as if their time wasn't respected. You are not only hiring for a role, but you are also engaging with thousands of potential customers, fans or detractors based on how you handle the process.
This is where setting up a team with distinct responsibilities like the Five Disciplines come in handy.