As the world begins to find its new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are agreeing to continue working from home at least until the end of the year, with some companies allowing remote work to continue permanently. Now more than ever before, there is a need for employers to be aware of how to effectively recruit and onboard staff remotely, whilst avoiding pitfalls.
We spoke to Simon Swan, Managing Director at our investee company, Hiring Hub, to find out how employers can continue to hire remotely. Hiring Hub is a tech business that helps employers find and work remotely with UK’s best, specialist recruitment agencies and find quality candidates for hard-to-fill jobs.
- How has COVID impacted Hiring Hub?
We’re a technology company operating within the recruitment sector, which was hit hard by COVID-19 as employers moved fast to freeze recruitment activity at the beginning of lockdown, which saw activity on our recruitment agency marketplace mirror the general market and fall about 60% within a two-week period. Scary.
However, our model has proven more resilient than even we envisaged. While activity has dropped, there are still employers hiring and, as we’re sector-agnostic and blessed with a relatively large client base, jobs were still going onto the platform through the worst of lockdown, so our recruiter members, who pay a monthly membership fee, stuck with us – for them Hiring Hub is a cost effective way to outsource sales and this became even more relevant when many had to furlough people within their team.
- What trends have you seen in the market during the COVID season?
From a jobs and employment perspective, vacancies in Britain fell to their lowest levels since ONS began recording the data in 2001, however, we’re certainly seeing the green shoots of a recovery here. While month-on-month growth since May hasn’t been electrifying as employers are only beginning to restructure and plan for the new normal, we’re expecting to see another uptick in job activity from September, and further acceleration in January 2021 provided there’s no significant second wave of the virus.
From a recruitment agency perspective, our recruiters are telling us they’re less sensitive to fee levels, but hyper-sensitive to the likelihood of them getting the fee. By that they mean they’ll consider working at lower rates, however, only if commitment from the employer is high and the candidate search brief isn’t being handed out beyond a couple of specialist search firms. That way they’re confident they’re using their time and resources sensibly and will have a higher hit rate.
Finally, and obviously I guess, we’ve seen a shift to remote hiring. I mean, employers didn’t have a choice during lockdown so those that were still hiring had to adopt a remote-first recruitment processes almost overnight. This presented a few challenges for some of our clients, but all overcame them very quickly and made a smooth transition.
- What are best practices when hiring remotely?
I think it’s worth breaking the hiring process down into its component parts: candidate sourcing, candidate screening, interview and assessment, negotiation, and then onboarding. Then consider what ‘remote’ means for each part.
Most employers are already using tools like Hiring Hub to source candidates online, remotely, and screening is often done online too, however, by the time it gets to interview stage it’s often time for employers to look for technology that can support remote hiring, whether that’s a dedicated video screening or interview platform, or simply using collaboration software they may already have like Teams or Zoom.
We put an eBook together – How to Hire Remotely. We did it early on in lock down to help our clients with the shift to a remote-first process and, subsequently, navigate the tech ecosystem, so they can source vendors to support them.
- What are some challenges of hiring remotely and how can they be overcome?
Recruiting is a human endeavor and I guess, fundamentally, the biggest thing you lose – and you do lose it – is that human contact. Video interviews are fantastic, and I’m a huge advocate of remote hiring, however, given the choice I’ll always prefer meeting a candidate face-to-face. You pick up so much more from body language and eye contact… video doesn’t completely match that but it’s close enough.
Beyond that I think remote hiring is very manageable. It has real advantages – speed being one of them. However, onboarding remotely is tough: you really need to give deep thought to how you’ll integrate new starters into your team remotely and what their first few days and weeks will look like as it’s critical for both parties to make a positive impression.
- What advice would you give to businesses that will continue to hire remotely even after COVID?
I don’t think any of this is rocket science but, at the same time, candidates will sniff out who’s winging it. It’s worth taking the time to workshop through each component of your hiring process, consider what it looks like remotely, and put yourself in the candidate’s shoes to really focus on that candidate experience. Also, once you’ve hired and onboarded someone it doesn’t stop there. This is where you can get the good data – go speak to that person and find out how they felt when they were going through the process remotely, what was good and bad, how would they improve it, etc. That’s so important. And you just use that feedback to iterate and improve your process. You can find out more on this by looking at our e-book.
- What are the next plans for Hiring Hub moving forward?
Our customers love our recruitment agency marketplace but have also asked if they can onboard their own preferred suppliers onto the platform, so they can manage and keep all their third-party recruitment agency activity in one place. For them it means they can access our data and analytics dashboard to get insights across their entire supply chain, while also utilising our marketplace to find and onboard new suppliers quickly and compliantly.
We’re launching that app, called Portal, in September and we’re excited because it’s been driven by market demand. We’re currently preparing to onboard our first customers in Q4 so it’s all-hands-on-deck getting that ready.
- How can Hiring Hub help businesses to hire remotely?
To hire remotely, employers upload a brief for recruiters and say what fee they’re willing to pay then it’s pushed out to relevant recruiters in our network anonymously, to shield the employers from calls. You can see the recruiters’ ratings and read reviews from other employers and candidates, and those you approve will conduct a search and submit their best candidates through the platform – over two thirds of candidates hired on Hiring Hub are submitted within three days of the job being posted!
- How to Hire Remotely eBook: https://www.hiring-hub.com/how-to-hire-remotely-ebook?utm_campaign=webinar&utm_source=Blog
- How to Hire Remotely webinar: https://blog.hiring-hub.com/company/how-to-hire-remotely-webinar/
NPIF Maven Equity Finance is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, in collaboration with the British Business Bank. The Fund is designed for small businesses that need equity finance to grow and can invest £50,000 - £2 million to support start-up and established companies based across the Northern Powerhouse aiming to create jobs and contribute to the economy.
If your business is in need of finance to help unlock its growth potential, NPIF Maven Equity Finance may be able to help. Contact Maven’s local team today on 0161 233 3500.
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