How to Hire Top Talent Remotely - Starter's Guide to an Effective Recruitment Process | DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency
Remote Recruitment & Outsourcing

How to Hire Top Talent Remotely – Starter’s Guide to an Effective Recruitment Process

Ihor Shcherbinin
VP of Recruiting at DistantJob - - - 3 min. to read

Hiring top talent for each role, regardless of the industry, can be difficult, especially if your business is located in an area where job seekers tend to flee to other cities for better prospects. But that doesn’t mean that you have to settle when hiring for average candidates. Get creative with your recruitment process and adopt hiring strategies to help you pick out the top talent your organization deserves. 

Nowadays, the best way of recruiting top talent is by hiring remotely. When you hire remote workers, you get rid of the geographical barriers and have access to an unlimited talent pool. Additionally, you can save a significant amount of money by hiring employees that live in cities and countries with a lower cost of living.

While hiring top talent is a priority for most organizations, why are they failing so badly at it? There are several reasons; in some cases, companies don’t know the strategies for attracting top talent, they struggle to find suitable candidates, or they offer poor candidate experience in recruitment. 

Whatever your reason is, we’re here to help you. As a leading remote recruitment agency, we’ve been helping companies to find and recruit the technical talent they deserve. And we’re sharing some of our most effective tips on how to hire remotely.

What is Top Talent?

Let’s start with the basics: defining top talent. 

And by defining, I don’t mean a basic out-of-the-dictionary definition. We all know the general characteristics of a successful employee: creative, independent, productive, curious, analytical, etc.  However, one of the first mistakes recruitment teams make when finding and hiring top talent is to look for a different type of candidate.

Before planning out your recruitment and selection strategies, ensure that your HR team is all on the same page regarding the type of candidate you’re looking to hire.  Create a basic guideline with questions that will help you define your ideal candidate. You can include questions like:

  • What type of candidate would you consider to be ‘’top talent’’? 
  • What skills and experience do they need? 
  • Should they be specific non-negotiable traits? 

For example, if you want to hire remote employees, your team, when interviewing and evaluating candidates, needs to ensure that these have what it takes to work remotely.  This means that they should be able to communicate effectively (regardless of their area), that they enjoy working autonomously, that they can collaborate remotely with their team members, etc.

Importance of Hiring Top Talent

Every business owner wants to hire employees that are productive, motivated, work towards the company’s goals, go the extra mile, etc. Unfortunately, not every employee has those motivations or qualities. In some cases, people need a job to pay their bills, and they are willing to do whatever it takes – even if that means doing a job they hate. 

At a simple glance hiring an average candidate doesn’t seem that bad. You don’t pay an expensive salary, and they do the average work and tasks. Sometimes they might not do all the tasks as you would’ve expected them to, but it’s what you’re paying for, right? 

Unfortunately, this type of mindset leads companies to a low retention rate. They need to continually hire to fill vacancies because they can’t find candidates who actually know how to do the job or adapt to the company’s culture. 

In terms of money, a National Association of Colleges and Employers study found out that the average cost of hiring an employee is $7,645. According to Glassdoor, the average company in the U.S. spends about $4,000 when hiring a new employee, taking up to 52 days to fill a position.

Imagine multiplying those numbers because you can’t find top talent for your team. The cost keeps increasing, retention rates continue to be low, and overall, you can’t reach your company’s goals because you don’t have the right team with you.  

Beyond the money and aspects like retention, one of the most shocking discoveries is the impact of high performers in organizations. A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes found that high performers are 400% more productive than average employees. Hiring top talent in your company means that you’ll be able to finish projects much faster and efficiently than hiring average ones. 

These are the main benefits of attracting top talent for your company:

Benefits of attracting top talent

How to Recruit Top Talent: The Basics

You must be clear on what you’re looking for and what your expectations are before going forward with hiring remote talent. Here are a few basic tips to take into consideration: 

How to recruit top talent

1. Use the Right Source

Many remote worker job boards screen the applicants before allowing them to create a profile. So, that’s some work automatically off your shoulder. You can be relieved that the applicants come with a certain level of qualifications. Moreover, you’ll have a lot of filters that you can use for a peculiarly targeted search.

What are the best channels, though? That’s trickier to answer because the industry is quite dynamic, and policies shift all the time. While you usually can’t go too wrong by googling and looking at customer reviews and ratings, this is an area where hiring a boutique recruitment agency like DistantJob can make all the difference. We constantly test and vet sources from all over the web; we know where the best people hang out.

2. Define Your Ideal Candidate

Describing the job role is critical in every opening, be it in-house or remote. But when hiring remotely, defining what you’re looking for in your ideal candidate is even more critical. This is the correct way to know if they’re the right fit. So, in addition to the job description, specify the list of things or features that would make them perfect for the role. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Must have at least 3 recommendations in their profile
  • Should have a home-office setup
  • Must have good communication and strong collaboration skills
  • Willing to work 6 hours a day

This way, candidates will deselect themselves if they feel they’re not the right fit. And that’s alright because it’s always the quality that matters, not the quantity. 

3. Lengthen the Remote Recruitment Process

To get your hires right in the first go, getting to know them well is important. And factoring in the distance, it is important to lengthen the hiring process a bit since you’ll be communicating virtually. Besides, it will give you a better insight into the candidates’ personalities. For example, you can know if they’re patient, consistent, and dedicated. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Give them multiple tests over certain intervals
  • Consider 2 or 3 rounds of Zoom interviews
  • Add a (paid) job trial at the end of the hiring process

4. Customize Your Questionnaire

Every job interview has a set of questions – how well do you work under pressure? How do you deal with tough deadlines? And these are the questions all candidates are prepared to answer. So, customize your questions and look for answers that highlight their competencies such as time management, communication, proactivity, discipline, etc. 

Figure out questions that can help you judge if the candidate is responsible, takes ownership of their work, and can hold themselves accountable. Figure out what exactly it is that you want to know about them in terms of whether they will be able to do the job efficiently and frame questions to ask precisely that. 

Picked for you: General interview questions to ask remote workers 

You must remember that communication is the key to hiring a remote candidate successfully. Communicate effectively, and you will make the right choice. Also, once the candidate is hired, create an efficient plan for their onboarding and reporting. Chart out a calendar for them to manage their tasks and deliverables and, in that calendar, make room for regular calls or video chats so you can review, evaluate, and provide feedback.

Best Practices for Hiring Top Talent

Recruiting and hiring remote employees is an entirely different process than with on-site employees. Building a strong remote recruitment process will enable your company to identify and recruit talent that adapts to your processes and understand your culture. These are the best recruitment practices to find and hire top remote talent: 

Best practices for hiring top talent

1. Separate Your Needs From Your Wants

Or, in other words: Define (realistically) your ideal candidate. There’s nothing wrong with tracing all the abilities, skills, personality traits, experience, you want candidates to have. However, the problem becomes when all these become part of the ‘’must-have’’ category

Quality recruiting focuses on finding and hiring candidates that go beyond expectations. However, companies that manage to hire top talent are aware that there are no perfect candidates. Otherwise, it would be impossible to hire. So, your first step is to separate the must-have qualities from the nice-to-have ones.

Here’s a cheat sheet with questions that can help you differentiate both concepts: 

Must-have qualities and skillsNice-to-have qualities and skills
What will the candidate’s tasks be? What skills do they need for that tasks?What skills are not necessary for the role but would add value?
Do candidates require experience for this role? What type of experience?What personality traits would your team value?
What characterizes your company culture? What traits are important for candidates to have that relate to your company’s culture?

2. Write a Job Description

Job descriptions are the first impression candidates have about your company and the position you’re looking for. And according to statistics, 72% of hiring managers say they write clear job descriptions while only 36% consider the same. 

Job descriptions should not be a long, boring description of what a company stands for and what type of ‘’superstar’’ or ‘’guru’’ they are looking for. Instead of writing an endless list of skills, add the ones you consider relevant (from the previous step) and all the information that matters to candidates, such as:

  • Job title
  • Job summary
  • Responsibilities and tasks
  • Requirements 

3. Build Your Talent Pipeline 

The third step to hire top talent in your organization consists in building a talent pipeline. The talent pipeline consists in having a list of potential candidates who are qualified and prepared to fill relevant roles within the organization as soon as they fall vacant.

It can include internal employees, or it can also include candidates from external sources like referrals, job boards, recruitment agencies, social media platforms, etc.

While job boards can easily enable you to publish your job ad and wait for candidates to apply, we’ve discovered with our years of experience that headhunting is one of the most effective ways to hire top talent. Recruitment doesn’t necessarily begin looking for people who want a job. In most cases, talented candidates are already working for another company, the key is to know what to offer them to attract them based on their preferences.

A LinkedIn survey found out of 20,000 talent professionals 86% said their recruiting organizations focused mostly on passive candidates. And it is likely that percentage continues to grow.

Headhunting, or looking for candidates passively, mostly happens through social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Most of the time it means approaching the candidate with an attractive offer – in our case, we’ve seen that many IT professionals besides benefits and a good salary, want to work remotely. 

Here are some platforms that can help you build your talent pipeline:

Job BoardsFreelance PlatformsSocial Media PlatformsRemote recruitment Agencies
CareerBuilderToptalLinkedInDistantJob (Remote tech professionals)
MonsterUpworkFacebookRobert Half
Simply Hired People Per Hour Twitter

4. Screen Candidates

Candidates are much more than a CV, that’s for sure. However, taking every CV into consideration makes no sense. Especially in bigger organizations, one of the best ways to hire top talent is by having a system that screens candidates automatically. Or, in other words, having an ATS (Applicant tracking system).

Sometimes candidates apply for a job without even fully reading the job description. They quickly scan the job ad, look for the salary or certain skills, and apply without hesitation. Dovetail revealed that out of 225 applications per role, 90% of the candidates don’t read the job description entirely, and 85% don’t have the core skills for the job.

Instead of going through all the applications or taking the time to interview them, the first step is to screen candidates. And an ATS is the best tool to do that. The main advantage, as we mentioned, is that it reduces time spent with administrative tasks, and secondly, you get more qualified candidates. The system ensures that recruiters only engage with the best candidates that move along with the skills and requirements in the applicant pool. 

5. Conduct Interviews and Evaluate

Now that you’ve selected the candidates you think are more suitable for the role, it’s time to interview and evaluate them. Interviews are one of the most important aspects to ensure finding the talent your team needs. It’s not only about having a candidate that gives perfect answers but to get to know them more deeply, understand the way they react in certain situations, more about their personality, and so on.

Keep in mind that each interview will always depend on the type of role you want to hire. If you need a candidate to fill a leadership role, then you’ll certainly ask questions that move in that direction. Same thing with different areas; you can’t evaluate designers the same way you evaluate remote developers. For each role, you need to define the skills and how you are going to evaluate them.

In a remote setting, this might seem trickier because obviously, you’re not in the same physical environment. This is why you need to have the right tools that will help you interview and evaluate remote candidates successfully. And not only the basic tools we all know, such as Zoom or google Teams, but also those that will help you, depending on the role, see if candidates are capable of doing what they say they can do. 

Tools that can help you evaluate skills remotely:

  • HackerRank (tech)
  • Codility (tech)
  • The English Quiz (Evaluate a candidate’s fluency and written competency in the English language)
  • HireSelect (personality tests)
  • Sales Assessment by OMG (Sales)
  • Predictive Index (personality and workplace behavior)
  • Pymetrics (cognitive and emotional traits)

6. Focus on Providing a Positive Candidate Experience

Recruiting top talent is not only about ensuring candidates have what it takes. It’s also about convincing them that your offer is too good to refuse – whether they are actively looking for a job or not. Convincing them besides the offers and possibilities, it’s also about providing them with a positive candidate experience – even before they are actual candidates.

Nowadays, companies need to work and strengthen their digital presence to obtain clients and attract possible talent. Before applying for a role, candidates research and inform their opinion of your company by looking at Glassdoor reviews, word of mouth, the application process, etc.

Once they become candidates, you need to establish the right process to approach them, answer them in a timely manner, and understand how the process works. Making them feel welcome, and conducting your interviews professionally, are all aspects that help them have a positive experience. 

7. Final Evaluation

After all the rounds of interviews and evaluations, it’s time to make the final decision. As a hiring manager, you’ll face several difficulties when choosing among different candidates. During this step, you’ll need to review your interview notes and analyze which candidate you think will make a better fit for your team. 

One of the things you’ll probably need to fight against is unconscious biases. Hiring managers often reject candidates not because they don’t have the skills but because of the first impression you had about the candidate or something they said you didn’t like. Before building false assumptions when evaluating, ask yourself: Do I have a job-related/professional reason to reject them? Why do I feel they are not suitable for the role?

Additionally, for evaluations, we always recommend reviewing the interview notes and building scorecards that might quantify the candidate’s answer and help you compare different candidates based on the scores. 

8. Hire!

Congratulations! You found the talent you were looking for. Now, it’s time to make sure you have the right onboarding process, remote communication guidelines, and policies. 

Keep in mind that hiring top talent remotely requires different tools and paperwork than onsite. So, during this step, before welcoming the new employee abroad, have all the documentation and the tools you’ll need to work with them successfully. 

9. Measure the Hiring Process

It’s impossible to know if your recruitment and hiring process is working if you don’t track the outcomes. The last step is to turn to data and analytics to understand what worked and what didn’t during the hiring process. This will help you improve and optimize your resources.

Some metrics to consider are:

  • Conversion fuel: How many candidates accept your offers? Those who refuse, what is their main reason?
  • Time to hire: Time is money so understanding how much it takes you to hire a candidate and why will help you see if certain steps are taking longer than they really should.
  • Hire ratio: It will help you see how many candidates you need to fill the position required.
  • Source of hire: What are the best sources to hire quality candidates?  

Hire Top Talent with DistantJob

Hiring top talent remotely is challenging, especially when you have no idea where to start. If paperwork, documentation, contracts, and the legal aspects are all too much to handle, leave it in our hands.

At DistantJob we will help you hire without borders 60% faster than the average industry. Our team of specialized IT recruiters can help you find and hire talented remote developers that will adapt to your company’s process. All this while taking care of the paperwork, as our global legal & HR team handles everything. Have more questions? Contact us!

Ihor Shcherbinin

Ihor, is the VP of Recruiting at DistantJob. He specializes in sourcing and placing top remote developers for North American companies. His expertise covers the entire recruiting cycle, from pinpointing job needs to finalizing hires. Known for his skill in remote staffing solutions and offshore team integration, Ihor excels in matching the best tech talents with U.S. organizations. His approach to virtual developer hiring is marked by insightful candidate selection and strategic offer negotiation, ensuring the right fit for every role.

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