Early Career Hiring Tips in a Remote Work World

Feb 22, 2021 - Tiffany Monhollon

The peak season for recruiting entry-level talent is well underway. With many companies, especially in the tech sector, sticking with WFH long-term, early career hiring has also transitioned predominantly online. A virtual-first environment offers many opportunities for reaching early career candidates, but comes with some additional challenges for thoroughly evaluating and appealing to these job seekers. Here are some tips for attracting (and onboarding!) entry-level employees during COVID-19.

Participate in virtual hiring events

Many universities have cancelled in-person events due to the coronavirus pandemic, so most entry-level recruiting has been taking place online for the past year. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! In fact, virtual hiring events can reduce costs since no travel is involved, while attracting a broader pool of talented candidates because they are no longer limited by location. As with in-person events, virtual hiring events may include career fairs, info sessions, professional development webinars, networking nights, and panel discussions. To get started with virtual hiring events, reach out to some of your target universities in order to participate in their virtual career fairs, or host virtual info sessions and other events on your own.

Coach hiring managers on best practices for virtual interviews

Hiring managers have likely had experience with interviewing job candidates in person, but there are some who may never have conducted interviews virtually before. Provide a training session that goes over technology for virtual interviews and recommended questions to ask that are relevant to remote work. To help standardize the process and reduce bias when interviewing candidates, encourage hiring managers to ask the same questions and offer a scorecard for evaluation. You can also recommend ways to make the virtual interview process more empathetic, such as being more understanding of technical difficulties on the candidate’s end and recognizing that candidates may not have a dedicated home office or other professional setting to conduct a virtual interview. 

Consider the role of assessments in your recruitment process

Hiring assessments are often used to test a candidate’s relevant skills for a given role. When analyzed in conjunction with interviews, resumes, and cover letters, hiring assessments can provide employers with a more holistic view of a candidate. However, it's important to be aware that personality assessments may incorporate biases that can advantage or disadvantage some candidates based on characteristics unrelated to job performance. So, be thoughtful about the role of assessments in your recruitment process.

Some examples of appropriate assessments may include programming exercises for software-related jobs, short writing samples for communication positions, or a brief presentation for sales or client-facing jobs. Similarly, you may wish to include a short pre-screening questionnaire for candidates who visit your booth at a virtual career fair in order to prioritize the most qualified.

Provide opportunities for job candidates to connect with current employees

From a candidate perspective, the recruitment process can often feel one-sided. Elevate the candidate experience with networking and social opportunities to get to know the company better in a low-stakes environment. This may include virtual happy hours, mentorship talks, or email exchanges in which candidates can ask questions to seasoned employees in a more informal way. Offering networking opportunities that lend themselves to organic conversations can help put candidates more at ease, give them a sense of your company culture, and help them become better acquainted with your company.

Create a robust onboarding program for new employees

So you’ve just sent out offer letters for your new cohort of entry-level employees. Congratulations! But that doesn’t mean the work is over. Unless your company is hiring previous interns, your new employees have never worked with you before. That means that they are not completely familiar with your company culture, processes, and personnel. If your company is still remote or hybrid during COVID-19, you may also be hiring new employees who don’t have a lot of experience working in a remote environment!

As a result, it’s important to have a clear onboarding program in place before their first day. Onboarding may include introducing new employees to their coworkers around the company, getting set up with their technology, and going through an orientation program to familiarize themselves with existing systems and processes. Don’t forget to save time for some icebreakers, too! 

You may also want to set up a "buddy system" program to partner a new employee with a more seasoned member of the team outside of their department for regular checkins, and consider facilitating regular cross-team one to one chats or engagement events to equip entry level employees build a network of relationships across the business.

Implement frequent check-ins between entry-level employees and their managers

Feedback is crucial for new employees, especially those at the entry-level. In fact, a 2018 report from the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 66% of Gen Z employees need feedback from their supervisor at least every few weeks in order to stay at their job. 

Delivering frequent feedback through one-on-one meetings between new employees and their managers ensures that the employee is growing professionally, performing their job to their best of their ability, and staying accountable for their actions. Make this an opportunity for new employees to raise any concerns, ask questions, and ultimately become more confident in their new role.

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