When we look into the future of work, we know this much: it will never look like it did in the pre-COVID-19 world. In our June Remote Work Survey, executives and office workers both signaled support for hybrid workforce arrangements. Most office workers (83%) want to work from home at least one day a week, and half of employers (55%) anticipate that most of their workers will do so long after COVID-19 is not a concern. But if recruits—and recruiters—are working remotely at least part of the time, traditional talent acquisition processes just won’t cut it for firms that want to attract the best talent. Companies should digitize the way they recruit talent end to end: find talent, attract them, show them the ropes and make them feel part of the team.
This shift is good news—if you adapt. Virtual recruiting and onboarding expands the geographical range of talent you can source. It allows you to hyper-personalize recruiting and onboarding. And it opens up a new toolkit for communicating your culture and building engagement.
PwC’s Future of Recruiting survey found that 49% of candidates had turned down a job offer because of a poor recruiting experience. To avoid that fate when conducting recruiting and onboarding virtually, you can’t just move old strategies online. You need a new, digital-first approach. Success will set your company up to be an employer of choice in a world of hybrid work.
If an employee is working remotely, it doesn’t matter whether she’s around the corner from your headquarters—or on the other side of the country. You should make remote work and recruiting your go-to option for roles that permit it. Then you can seek workers with the skills you need, including highly specialized ones, to fulfill your strategy, without letting geography constrain you.
Remote recruiting also offers a wider field to find the diversity that so many companies crave. That diversity isn’t always available next to one of your office buildings.
Allow job candidates to become masters of their own recruitment. At PwC, for example, the introduction to our firm for candidates is structured as a mobile-enabled “choose your own adventure” experience. It’s designed to give candidates a deeper connection with PwC and the unexpected opportunities they’ll have as an employee.
Organizations can also use machine learning to enrich candidate insights, and find patterns in candidate behavior to continually refine and create ever-more personalized options. Career sites that serve up content specific to candidates’ interest is one example.
Virtual reality (VR) can further excite: in our Future of Recruiting Survey, 65% of candidates said they would be more likely to take a role if they first experienced it through technology. Virtual focus groups with other candidates and virtual meetings with their potential team are other ways to digitally assess, excite and learn from candidates.
To successfully execute in a world of hybrid work, recruiters should become experts at virtual collaboration and digital communications. They should know enough to help support recruits in using your digital tools. They’ll need to up their branding and marketing skills, communicating your company’s purpose and giving a taste of its culture at every opportunity—all from afar.
Most of all, recruiters will need to be digital storytellers, continually communicating the candidate and employee journey. To be successful, they’ll need to convey why someone should join your team, even if they may never set foot in an actual office or meet coworkers face to face. All that requires a new mix of skills, which you will have to identify, develop and potentially source.
At PwC, COVID-19 compelled our recruiters to quickly up their digital game. Some now record videos to introduce themselves. Others host virtual DJ parties to help build excitement about the brand. Of course, some of our recruiters are more digitally savvy than others. For many, it’s been extra challenging (and extra work!) to communicate culture and understand candidates’ motivations and doubts when you can’t meet face to face. It’s sometimes been a bumpy road, but we’ve made progress and learned plenty of lessons.
A new hire’s experience during the first 30 days is critical to onboarding success and preventing buyers’ remorse. Onboarding should be more than integrating new hires into the organizational flow chart. It’s your chance to make them believe in your company’s purpose, start to live its culture and feel part of the team. Using personalized digital tools and a deliberate approach to building community, you can quickly establish engagement.
At PwC, for example, we offer our new hires small-group digital welcome sessions and gamified goals and tasks. To help with technology issues, we provide one-on-one IT support and set up virtual Q&A sessions. To help new hires build their network and feel at home quickly, we’ve established coffee chats with partners, other new joiners and dedicated onboarding contacts.
Looking at our data as recently as August 2020, we were surprised to find that new joiners who were virtually onboarded had a better experience. Compared to those who were onboarded in-person, they were more likely to say that their overall onboarding experience was positive, that they felt connected to the firm, that they received the coaching they needed, and that they felt welcome by the end of the first week. What started as a strategy to adapt to an unexpected situation turned out to be a better experience for everyone.
Remote work is here to stay, and that means that virtual recruiting and onboarding are too. To attract and integrate top talent remotely, you’ll have to rethink the skills you need and where to find them, hyper-personalize digital recruiting, arm recruiters with new digital skills, and transform the virtual onboarding experience for new hires. As you look to the future, balance virtual experiences with appropriate in-person touch points, such as socially distanced coffee chats. With a digital-first approach, virtual recruiting and onboarding can be more than a necessary adaptation to a world of hybrid work. Done right, it can be your edge in the global war for talent.