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From Late Stage to First Day: Onboarding Candidates Virtually

In the past few weeks, many companies have successfully tackled transitioning to a fully remote recruiting process — specifically as it relates to interviewing candidates in their pipeline. This signals the importance of being adaptable especially during a time when flexibility is key. In our recently published 2020 State of Remote Work Report, we discovered that one of the most challenging aspects of remote work has been onboarding new hires virtually. Thankfully, companies don’t need to start from scratch–this is an opportunity to adapt their existing strategy, in a new way.

Talent and HR professionals are navigating today’s remote world by ensuring that candidates are being assessed equitably while also having a stellar candidate experience. In our webinar, ‘Onsites to Onboarding: Best Practices for a Remote World,’ talent acquisition leaders from Rapid7 and FORM3 share insights on how they successfully guide candidates from late stage interviews to their first day 100% remote.

Here are some best practices on how to virtually guide candidates from offer acceptance to onboarding.

From acceptance to their first day

Once a candidate accepts an offer from your company, it is a win for talent acquisition and the hiring team just as much as it is for the candidate. So, even when a candidate is considered ‘closed’ from a recruiting perspective, it’s critical to keep them “warm” and excited, especially ahead of their first day to make sure that their onboarding starts off strong. 

When we asked employers to share what some of their main challenges were when it came to recruiting to today’s climate, they indicated the following as their top three: 

  1. Onboarding new hires remotely
  2. Conducting remote interviews 
  3. Convincing candidates to take a position without meeting in person.

Although companies may be hesitant about their ability to close candidates remotely, there is good news: 73% of tech talent shared that they would feel comfortable accepting a job without meeting any of the team in person. Only 10% said they wouldn’t feel comfortable while 16% were undecided. It’s clear that tech talent isn’t worried about their ability to evaluate joining a new team or a company, even if the circumstances are different than normal. If anything, talent leaders have an opportunity to showcase their thoughtfulness by establishing a well rounded process that leverages the foundation they had already built. Additionally, when we asked tech talent about their willingness to onboard remotely, almost two thirds (64%) said they were very open as long as they were provided the right resources and support. The level of communication and support during a new hire’s transition into your company, establishes a precedent for what they can expect going forward.  

Sean Hynan who leads Talent for FORM3, a fully remote fin-tech start up in the UK shared that setting up a call or email reminders in their company ATS has been an effective part of his team’s workflow in order to maintain communication with closed candidates. Especially if a candidate’s notice period is extended or the start date is delayed, this adds a personal touch to their welcome experience and helps retain them from offer acceptance to their first day. During these check ins, FORM3’s team takes the opportunity to send media coverage, share insights on company initiatives, and welcome resources to keep their new hires engaged.

As their first day approaches, it becomes a cross-functional effort for companies to get their new hires ready to start. Human resource or people ops teams should plan to send an orientation schedule and benefits resources for new hires to review ahead of time. IT is responsible for making sure the new hire has received their hardware (laptop, monitors, mousepad, trackpad, etc), and given access to their online tools via usernames for login on their first day. Finally, investing in a welcome box with company swag, along with welcome emails from their hiring manager and new team members is sure to make new hires truly feel a part of the team.

Remote onboarding: A community first mindset

The best way companies can welcome their new hires remotely is to create a sense of community from Day 1. Hynan mentions that the worst thing that could happen is for a new hire to feel alone or unsupported as they start in their new role. Since 97% of tech candidates stated they are open to remote onboarding with the right resources and support, we took our question one step further. We asked tech talent to define what they consider to be the ‘right resources or insight’ they would need to feel supported. Here are a few of the most common responses that we received from tech workers:

  • Comprehensive onboarding plan that includes timelines and topics
  • Training session with the IT department
  • Role specific onboarding
  • Designated mentors or an onboarding buddy
  • Project management tools and best practices
  • Documentation in a company wide wiki
  • Internet and workspace allowance

Beyond documentation, getting new hires to introduce themselves to the wider team and share what made them join during a company’s all-hands is a simple way of encouraging each new hire that they have a voice at the company. In addition, hosting virtual department introductions and benefit sessions for new hire cohorts help to match faces and names, offer a forum to ask questions, and learn more about the business in an authentic way.

As a best practice, hiring managers begin to take over the onboarding process from their talent and HR partners after company orientation in order to begin sharing more role-based, functional insights related to the new hire’s daily workflows and team collaboration. FORM3’s hiring managers have new hires across both technical and non-technical teams do paired work and/or programming sessions with team members to get an understanding of how the team works — even while being remote — so they feel fully integrated and supported.

Finally, in line with building a sense of community, encouraging new hires to get involved with company community events early on helps incorporate them with the company’s culture. Whether a company was previously in-office and converted to distributed or has always been fully remote, cultivating a strong internal culture doesn’t need to be tied to having a physical office–company culture lives within its team members wherever they are. 

Here are some ways both Rapid7 and FORM3 build a sense a community through virtual events they host: 

  1. Drop in Zoom lunch hour meeting rooms
  2. Zoom workout classes
  3. Fun Friday Quizzes or Polls
  4. Mini concert series

Social remote company activities also create space for employees to invite their families to get involved. As more people are working from home, friends and family who are working alongside them become part of their community and at-home workspace. Including them makes new employees feel like they aren’t sacrificing time with those they are closest to when they join in.

Similar to converting a recruiting process to be executed 100% remote, onboarding playbooks do not have to be thrown out but rather adapted to a new way of work. Onboarding new hires remotely is a unique challenge for talent teams but with careful consideration and attention to what matters most in welcoming new hires, setting them up for success can happen regardless of where they are logging in from.