May 19, 2021

Hiring Remotely after Covid19


Episode Highlights

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Many trends have emerged as companies have adjusted their hiring practices in response to Covid-19. Don Effler and Barclay Burns discuss what’s changed, what’s here to stay, and what employers can do to stay competitive in the increasingly tight talent market.

Episode Transcript

So Barclay and Don here, with Hirewell.  We’re here to chat today  about kind of what the future of the world will look like in terms of hiring, right. We’re seeing a lot of vaccines come out. A lot of people that we know are getting vaccinated. A lot of people are starting to return to normal. We’re not there kind of anywhere yet by any means but we’re definitely trending in that direction. So as the world kind of goes back to assemblance of what it was before, Barclay and I wanted to talk about what that means for hiring  and what that means for hiring managers and employers down the road


in this kind of this new world that we’re living in post COVID. What are kind of some of the things you remember about the old world in terms of corporate structure and what was the norm back in the day, if you could even remember it? 


Yeah, I mean I think about  how much has changed in the interview process just in the past year. Before COVID hiring somebody only through zoom was really kind of unthinkable.


It really didn’t happen even if there was a series of phone calls and zooms, they still wanted the person to meet in person. Now that we’ve eliminated that, it brings a lot of efficiencies to get candidates into the interview process and through the process a lot more quickly than before. Then adding


on top of that, how much more acceptance of remote working has been, that gives employers access to candidate pools that were not available before. So now you’ve got this bigger candidate pool situation. More efficient, quicker interview process, giving employers a much wider, broader access to candidates.


I think what that could mean is that it almost creates a situation where there’s almost a paralysis by choice because do you commit to a candidate when you know that you can probably have a few more lined up in the next week? And that could cause clients to kind of continue to want to delay an interview more and maybe miss out on candidates who are then


getting chased by other employers. So I think those are some of that kind of dynamics that they might need to be aware of going forward. 


Over a year ago, right before COVID, it was very rare for an employer to hire completely off a series of video interviews, right?  That was something that was done on occasion, very unique circumstance


and even then employers would try to fly a person in. And even if they maybe would work a hundred percent remotely, it’s like, “Well, we can’t hire you without meeting the team.” 




 “Like we really need you to – we’ll put you up for a hotel, maybe come onsite.” or sometimes like, “We won’t put you up for hotel, but if you want to work remotely, you have to figure out how to get here.”


Right? Sometimes you put it kind of on the candidate themselves, but obviously that is no longer the case, right? All the hires that Hirewell’s helped facilitate in the last year have been a hundred percent remote hiring, right. People interviewing, meeting people, going throughout the entire interview process and then onboarding remotely even though they’ve never met.


And  Hirewell has done that too. We’ve hired quite a few employees, right. A hundred percent remotely. So it’s definitely something that, has kind of changed and I think that to your point,  there’s kind of a paralysis like is that something that we  are able to do?


Or are we going to hold out until the world to gets back to normal to hire? And I think that if you haven’t already started doing that, you’re already behing the eight ball. 


Maybe I’m dating myself but I remember when casual Fridays became kind of a big deal and that was a big selling point to companies. Well, first it would be like, “Hey, you don’t need to wear a tie.


You can just wear business casual.” And it was like, “Oh, on Fridays you can wear jeans.” Then there were companies just letting people wear shorts and a t-shirt. And then it’s just – and if you try to adhere to how things work, you’ll end up being at  one more disadvantage when you’re interviewing candidates.  Not every candidate cares about all those things, but a lot has changed obviously.


So if you’re needing to adhere to like, “No I can’t hire until I meet the person in person” or “No I can not allow remote” hey you may lose out on the candidate of your have your choice. 


Yeah I think that’s actually a great analogy. Like the in-person interview maybe going or the in-person requirement in general, maybe going the way of the business suit,


right? There’s definitely companies that still make you wear a suit right?  But there’s competitors that don’t and people do tend to move on or kind of realize, this is a little stuffy, this is a little old, this is not innovative, this is not progressive.


And I can see that in just the basics of like dress code, same thing with kind of interview process and on-site versus remote expectations, right. I think  there’s some situations that are obviously very different, right? Things like manufacturing, healthcare. There are industries that absolutely require people to be onsite because the job can’t be done remotely. 




That’s different, but when we’re talking finance, we’re talking software companies, we’re talking different kinds of services, professional services like those don’t need to be done necessarily on site.


That doesn’t mean that on-site work doesn’t foster collaboration or engagement but you have to figure out how to do that remotely and as everyone has over the last year. So I think the point that we’re both trying to make is the world has changed from before March 2020 and everyone’s going to have to get kind of on board if they want to stay competitive.


I think that kind of brings up the next point too. It’s not just what candidates expect, right? In terms of are you attracting the right talent with your interview process and your remote flexibility, but more what does that do to the candidate pool itself, right? And I think there are going to be a lot of changes when it comes to things like that.


I mean do you have any kind of thoughts there Barclay? 


There’s always going to be that line where it’s like, “Well are we at a competitive advantage if we can keep people in the office? And is there  a reason for that and can we justify that and maybe the right candidate for that role, believe that it will be on board with that.”


And that’s the right candidate for that company. There are going to be other situations where you’ll lose out just because candidates don’t want that and  I also think about how going back to what I mentioned earlier,  now that remote is an option, companies no longer are having to really stick with like, “Okay I’m in Chicago.


I can look around Chicago.” Maybe someone who lives far away that is from here and wants to move back and relocate kind of mostly at their own expense, right? But now we’re opening it up to people kind of everywhere. So it’s like an arms race from both candidate and hiring company perspective.


Hiring companies have more access to candidates. Candidates have more access to different companies that they might not otherwise have considered working for. They might be a perfect fit, they’re in Chicago. There’s a perfect company for them in Boston, previously would’ve needed them to move. They can’t move. Done.


Now that company’s an option for them. I mean and we’re living through it right now. So we don’t know what the ramifications of this is going to be other than, I think there’s going to be just increased competition from both sides. It’s going to be probably an advantage to who can move quickly, who can identify the candidate


they like, move quickly, get them through the process, make an offer, not feel like you have to have a kind of artificial Corum of prospects that you have to meet before you can make an offer. But if you just, if you get somebody live, you like them, great. Move forward, make an offer, get them locked in is my recommendation.


If your company hasn’t adopted to a hundred percent remote hiring where it can be done, or a remote lifestyle moving forward, you’ve got to look at the candidate pool, right? For instance, if you are a software engineer in Chicago, there was X amount of companies that you could work for


right? And that number would fluctuate depending on the success and size and growth of the company, right? But as a hiring manager, same thing. There was generally a size pool that you are understood that it’s within the Chicago market that could get physically to your office – and yeah maybe that’d change over the course of the years but generally it was fairly the same. That is completely changed. Every candidate in Chicago now has access to every remote software engineer position in the entire United States or even beyond the United States.


Every candidate has way more options than they did before. Therefore, you’re not competing with local Chicago companies. You’re competing with literally everyone that can be a hundred percent remote, which is eight, nine, ten times the number of companies that were available to them


previously. Those numbers are not coming from anywhere in particular, that’s just kind of a guess, but it’s a lot more, right? All those candidates can easily get other jobs. That also changes things like price, right? Now you are competing with san Francisco. Now you’re competing with New York. You’re competing with San Diego, right.


And all of a sudden you’re going to have to start thinking about that “My concept of the candidate pool available to me and the prices that I was familiar with paying, are completely different now.” And if you are not on top of realizing that and adjusting your expectations, you’re going to have a very hard time hiring.


Right, right. Yeah in my experience, and this is maybe before COVID when there was more relocation sort of in the conversation versus working remote, but from a candidate perspective, the cost of living difference was never used. It was always like, “Hey, if I’m in Iowa and I’m going to go into San Francisco, I’m going to need a huge increase.”


Makes sense? If I’m in San Francisco, I’m going to Iowa. I’m not necessarily going to look at a calculator and say, “Okay, yeah give me a 35% pay cut because I’m still ahead” you know they almost, they want to stay at least level. So the cost of living differences now with remote working


totally interesting new dimension of that, because if you are looking to hire in Chicago and you want to go outside and find somebody in the Bay area, will you have to consider that? Will you have to consider offering a Bay area salary for that person even though the role is technically based in Chicago.


So Barclay do you have any thoughts on like how companies can go about addressing these changes? Maybe someone sees this video and says, okay we’ve got to change things. What would you suggest be the first steps that people look at in terms of actually changing the way they go about things to kind of adapt into this new world?


 I think from my perspective it’s usually,  we’re in our act and usually what the hiring manager who’s looking to get this position filled, human resources who’s involved with the process, and any sort of hesitancy or kind of maybe a reluctance to get with the program, how things are now might come from either of those two parties.  And I think that in any situation, if you’re in HR and you’re finding that the hiring managers are moving too slow, they are not willing to be flexible and move quickly because those are the things that, from my perspective, cause me the most headaches is when we have a candidate we like,


 they think they like, and they just for whatever reason there’s just snags in the process and they end up getting hired by someone else, or they lose interest in the company as a result.  Or if you’re the hiring manager and you feel there’s just too much steps in the process and we can maybe make it more efficient to work with HR  to rectify that,


just so we can kind of keep the process moving forward. Again, it’s going to be very competitive. They’re going to have a lot of options and they might be a great fit, they might be another great fit out there also they’re talking to and it may just come down to days in terms of kind of turning the process around.


So I think that whoever can have influence on that process should speak up and kind of heed off our advice, I mean as the market is right now. 


And that sounds like something that you can do pretty immediately, right? Realize that there’s a lot of competition out there, realize that these candidates can go to a lot more places than they came before,


so expediting the interview process is something that can be done with one conversation, right? I think some bigger things that people are looking at too are really investing in the remote infrastructure, right? Does everyone have laptop, monitors, all the equipment that they need at home? Many of the companies that we’re working with are actually reducing the footprint of their office sizes and fully engaging in like, “If you need to come in today, you can take an open desk, but you no longer have a desk 


with your name on it, with your cat calendar. Yeah pictures of the family, like your Alma mater, like that’s gone, it’s going to be an empty desk and kind of like a hot seat.” Like you come in when you need it. You’re working from home when you don’t, right? And that is a conversation with


lots of different leadership and negotiating rent. And that’s probably something that happens over quite a few different conversations. That’s also something people are looking at to save money to really drive the remote world, that we’re going to be living in. 


Yeah absolutely.  


Besides kind of interview process to address increased competition, it’s looking at your internal infrastructure, making sure that you’re set up and


employees can be successful remote and that does come to management, right? Can your employees be successful in a remote environment? Like that’s a leadership and management job and a task that they will have to take on and it’s harder than said but that’s what leadership’s there for. Is to lead, especially when things change or pivot drastically as they have over the last year.


If you have any questions, please reach out to us or if you want to discuss this in more detail or about hiring in general. We both work directly with a lot of clients and we’d love to chat with you if you have any questions about what the world expects from hiring, and if your company is doing the best thing.


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