Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Top tips for helping candidates to succeed in the first 90 days of a virtual role

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the recruitment and onboarding processes for organisations across the board, bringing with it a completely new set of challenges for both employers and new recruits.

Beginning a new job is often a daunting experience, but in the absence of physical introductions, the creation of new relationships and the exposure to company culture mean it can be even harder to maximise those critical first 90 days. So what can recruiters do to help their candidates to sail through their probation period when working remotely? Elisa Nardi, a former Chief People Officer and CEO of Eniteo provides her expert advice.

Review your onboarding support and advice

It goes without saying that most recruiters will already point their candidates towards helpful resources and guides designed to help them excel in their new position, but the landscape has changed significantly and your pre-COVID recommendations may not be as effective anymore. Consider reviewing your current practices for helping onboard new clients, paying particular attention to issues specific to those entering virtual roles. Many areas which were once covered inside the office by Occupational Health are much harder to address at home. Issues such as home office set up, time management and effective communication will all be areas that you could help advise on to ensure that they put their best foot forward.

Promote self-reflection and learning

Virtual roles tend to require candidates to draw on their self-management skills in areas such as task management, motivation and their own personal development. With less office-based ‘cues’ the learning process can often be stalled in virtual roles, particularly in more junior positions where candidates are still relatively inexperienced. Helping candidates to develop skills in self-reflection and learning will ensure that they take personal responsibility for their own progression rather than relying on others to carry them through. Gifting them a copy of  Notebook Mentor: The 1st 90 days in my new job journal is a great way to introduce them to career journaling whilst also providing them with some expert advice and guidance from industry experts.

Reset expectations

Starting a new virtual role can be a very different experience to entering a physical office for the first time and many are unprepared for the challenges they face. Professional Isolation is a growing concern as more workers face extended periods of working alone, in addition to fears that certain segments of the workforce will be disadvantaged as a result of remote working. Preparing your candidates for the reality of virtual working is essential to ensuring that they enter these roles with their eyes wide open and with a clear understanding of how to navigate their new career path most effectively. It’s not all doom and gloom as there are some real perks to working remotely, it’s just a case of being realistic and pragmatic.

Engage with employers

The advice thus far has focused on equipping candidates to excel in their new virtual roles, but we should not ignore the importance of including employers within the conversation. Recruiters should prioritise engaging with employers to better understand their approach to recruiting virtual candidates. Every employer will be tackling the issue differently, and knowing exactly what your candidate will be entering into by working there will ensure you can provide the most tailored and appropriate support for them.

Check in with past candidates

Hybrid working is still relatively new for most organisations and they are still finding their way. What is clear is that a growing number of employers are looking to maintain some form of remote working even after the pandemic has subsided. In addition, a recent survey revealed that over half of employees wanted to maintain some home working in the future.  Checking in with candidates you’ve previously placed in virtual roles will be essential to finding out what works and what doesn’t. Identifying the areas that are causing issues or that have been particularly helpful will ensure that you can best tailor your approach to supporting future candidates in similar roles.

Acting at the vital connection between employers and new recruits, recruiters are able to gain valuable insight into the world of remote working from the perspective of both parties. This presents a prime opportunity to build on this insight to not only help candidates to better prepare for their new virtual roles, but to advise employers on best practice too. This will greatly improve the relationship and trust between all parties, leading to longer term, mutually beneficial and profitable partnerships.

About the Author

Elisa Nardi, is a former Chief People Officer, now executive coach, mentor, author, non-executive director and CEO of Eniteo. With a passion for helping people to become the best versions of themselves at work, Elisa created a range of beautifully crafted, professional development journals designed to help people manage, develop and be happier at work. A graduate in both Psychology and Sociology, with a postgraduate qualification in Executive Mentoring & Coaching, Elisa has over 30 years’ experience in prominent HR leadership positions for brands such as Ford, Heinz, PepsiCo, Marconi, Virgin Media and Bupa.