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Originally Posted On: How to Find the Right Fit for an Entirely Virtual Position – Jennings Executive Search
Over the last year, companies and their employees have become increasingly comfortable with “working from home.” So much so, in fact, that many companies have changed their hiring practices and policies to allow employees to take on an entirely virtual position in nearly any role.
Benefits of Entirely Virtual Positions
The bottom line is that entirely virtual positions have infinite benefits for the employee and the company. More specifically, USA Today estimates that employees who work from home save as much as $4000 a year, and the companies they work for can save up to $10,000 annually by enabling remote work.
The benefits of virtual work extends beyond financial savings. To better grasp this next benefit, let’s time travel back to pre COVID-19 times. Most companies actively opposed letting employees work from home, fearing that employees would be far less productive and procrastinate more. At first glance, this seems to make sense – home has more distractions, no physical boss, kids running around, the spouse needing some quiet time for their virtual meeting, etc. On the other hand, if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that these companies couldn’t have been more wrong.
Stanford conducted a study of 16,000 workers over 9 months where they monitored employee productivity. To cut a long story short, they found that working from home actually increases productivity by 13% (in terms of sheet output). This increase in performance was attributed to more communication/calls per workday, a quieter more convenient working environment and working more hours per day given fewer breaks, less travel and less sick days. The study also found that employees reported improved work satisfaction, and attrition rates were cut by up to 50%.
Once a “perk” for some professionals (and typically associated with “cool” tech startups), remote work has now transformed into the day-to-day standard for a large part of the workforce.
That being said, hiring for an entirely virtual position comes with its own sets of challenges. Many hiring managers find it difficult to decide if a candidate is the right fit without the traditional face-to-face interview. Here are our tips for effectively navigating the hiring process for a remote position.
1. Look at Your Business Processes First
Before considering remote applications, make sure your business is set up for remote work. Consider the resources available and if you are currently able to support remote employees. Think about things like:
- How internal meetings are run
- What technology is available
- The communication tools necessary for someone to be effective in a role
2. Have a Clear Picture of the Ideal Candidate
Then consider the skills a candidate must have to work effectively outside of a traditional office environment. These skills can include:
- Time management
- Ability to work independently
- Clarity in communication
- Tech-savvy ability to problem solve
- The ability to ask for help
Be sure to include those required skills in the remote job description to attract the candidates who will be the most successful.
Write an attractive job description that spells out exactly who you’re looking for to fill the position. Work collaboratively with hiring managers and colleagues to describe the qualifications and requirements of the role. Then, look at similar job descriptions from other companies to get an idea of the marketplace talent.
Additionally, look for talent in the right places, and consider working with recruitment professionals. Jennings Executive Search has been recruiting exceptional talent for some of the country’s most successful organizations and can help you find the right candidate for an entirely virtual position.
3. Have a Well-Organized Interview Strategy
Before the interview process begins, generate a well-rounded list of questions to ask each candidate. These questions should cover areas of their personality, background, and skillsets. Asking the same questions to every candidate levels the playing field and can help distinguish the “right fit” when deciding between equally qualified applicants.
It is also wise to avoid asking questions that can easily be learned by scanning a resume or LinkedIn profile. Use the time to truly get to know a candidate and glean if they will be successful in the role and as a member of your organization. Also, if a candidate has never worked in an entirely virtual position, try to ask questions about any transferable skills or experience they’ve had.
Here are some examples of questions to ask a candidate interviewing for an entirely virtual position:
- What are your favorite work from home tricks that help you stay focused and productive while working remotely?
- What tools or resources have you used that help you collaborate effectively with long-distance teams?
- How would you approach remote communication? How would you handle situations where you and a co-worker’s ideas are not aligned? Can you provide an example of a situation where you have encountered resistance but ultimately aligned effectively with teammates?
When hiring remote workers, it’s also good to consider if they’re in the same or similar time zone as your target audience.
4. Be Professional
When hiring for remote positions, it is critical to be professional and respectful of people’s time, just as you would expect for an in-person hiring process.
For some applicants, the remote hiring process can be even more stressful than traditional in-person interviews. There are ways you can reduce this type of stress so that the candidates are able to put their best foot forward. In practice, this looks like entering the virtual interview room early, being accommodating and choosing meeting times that are more convenient for the candidate, having questions prepared ahead of time, and setting clear expectations and follow-up timelines.
5. Broaden your Talent Base
Attracting the best talent for a position has always been a recruiter’s ultimate goal. One perk of attracting the right talent for remote positions is the removal of geographic boundaries from the available talent pool. A business is no longer required to be bound by local talent. Businesses can (and should) engage with potential hires based on their skillset and fit for the role, regardless of where they are located. This not only allows companies to attract the best talent but also facilitates creating a diverse workforce.
Limiting recruiting efforts to candidates located within commuting distance is a thing of the past. The bottom line? With entirely virtual positions, the cost of living in the geographic location of your business doesn’t need to be a factor in the position salary range. Additionally, it doesn’t need to restrict the talent you recruit. The ability to work from home is becoming increasingly effective for attracting top talent to open roles and greatly expands the company’s access to a larger pool of qualified candidates.
6. Levelling The Playing Field
Hiring for a remote role levels the playing field for small and medium sized companies who traditionally competed for top talent against larger companies. For example, a newly launched NYC-based private equity fund would be at a clear disadvantage when looking for experienced VP’s or Director-level talent given competition with heavyweights like KKR, Apollo, Blackstone, Warburg Pincus or Cerberus Capital.
If the smaller private equity fund is hiring for a remote role, they immediately gain access to a wider pool of high-quality talent outside of NYC, where competition from heavyweights may be far less prevalent. They would also be able to better compete with larger companies on the talent front given 83% of global respondents reported that the ability to work flexibly would be the deciding factor between two offers.
That same study conducted by the Internal Workplace Group reported that 32% of respondents stated that having a choice of work location would matter more to them than being given a more prestigious role within their company.
Despite the challenges of hiring for an entirely virtual position, the talent you will recruit will far outweigh the negatives. The professionals at Jennings Executive Search are here to help find the perfect fit for any FP&A, commercial strategy, accounting, tax, or data science-related roles in your organization.
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