The facts are powerful. One in four workers will be remote in 2021.
Even though the impact of the pandemic has lessened, many companies are choosing to allow workers to work remotely, either part of the week or year-round.
That trend creates new challenges for both employers and job-hunters.
The Employer View
Managing a remote team may be new to you. Or, you may actually prefer it because you are also enjoying the many benefits of working from anywhere.
But the building, motivating, and rewarding of a multi-location (and sometimes multi-time-zone) team is not without its challenges — especially when you’re hiring recent graduates.
Remote work, however, gives you an opportunity to source and hire the best-of-the-best talent, regardless of location. Here are some practical tips.
- Sourcing: Look for candidates who are adept at online interaction. Check out LinkedIn profiles and pay special attention to candidates’ digital communication style and frequency. Because you won’t be able to “walk down the hall” for meetings or questions, you want to find talent who excels at remote interaction.
- Interviewing: Ask lots of questions about situations when someone was working with minimal supervision. (e.g., Do you have an example of a time when an employer or professor wasn’t reachable and you had questions about a project?) Pay special attention to candidates’ timeliness, technology preparedness, and body language during ZOOM interviews.
- Onboarding: Develop a remote training program that enables new hires to meet other team members, read about the company, and contact you continuously with questions. Consider sending a simple welcome gift (e.g., food gift certificate) to take the place of a first-day lunch or happy hour. Make sure every employee has the right equipment to do their job and be prepared to invest in the tools they need.
- Communication: Use cloud-based tools like Monday.com, Google Docs, Slack, Teams, and others to ensure your team is communicating on a regular basis. Have virtual face-to-face meetings at least once a week and encourage everyone to turn their cameras on. Recent graduates tend to be less proactive in asking questions than seasoned professionals (due to insecurity or inexperience), so be sure to continuously ask, “What can I help you with?”
- Positive Reinforcement and Celebration of Success: You may not be able to take your team out for a party when they exceed goals but publicly acknowledge special occasions and individual and team accomplishments. Do something fun and unexpected and develop “new rituals” for a remote workforce.
Managing a remote team may be challenging at first. Training and motivating recent grads takes time and commitment and flexing to do that in a remote world (especially if you’re late to the technology game) is not without its hiccups. But every manager must ultimately adapt to the new work model. Look at the bright side. Remote work enables people to have more balance in their lives. You can source the right talent from all over the country (or the world). And, many companies report that workers are even more productive and happier when they have flexibility.
The Candidate View
Standing out among thousands of other candidates, especially when you have limited work experience, can be tough. First, read the employer tips above. In addition:
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is stellar. Sadly, most schools do not teach the importance of LinkedIn in making professional connections. Tidy up all your social media profiles to present yourself as a true professional and hustler. Use your privacy sessions to hide anything you don’t want prospective employers to see.
- Be fully prepared for remote interviews. First impressions last forever. Be on time, test your technology before the call time, and make sure your body language exudes confidence and eagerness. Don’t forget to smile at appropriate times and send a thank you note.
- Use LinkedIn to build relationships with those companies and people on your “target list.” Many jobs are never posted and come from relationships like this. Being assertive and proactively connecting with hiring managers will help you stand out in a cluttered market.
- Think about the times in your life when you demonstrated proactivity, independent thinking, and self-powered time management. Hiring managers will want to know that they don’t need to micromanage remote workers and that you will be a true asset to their team. Use these examples throughout the interview process.
Remote work is here to say and may ultimately be the norm. It takes commitment, preparedness, and optimism. If you go into it thinking, “How can I make this work?” rather than “This will never work,” you’ve taken the first bold step.
— Article by Nancy Shenker, the founder and CEO of theONswitch marketing. Nancy now manages a fully remote team, including one college student and two recent graduates (including one in Canada). A former corporate brand marketing executive, she has managed and mentored hundreds of recent grads and professionals throughout her career. She is the author of “Don’t Hook Up With the Dude in the Next Cube: 200+ Career Secrets for 20-Somethings.”