Hiring and Onboarding Junior / Entry-Level Professionals for your Remote Teams

Hiring Junior Professionals to Work RemotelyRemote based working has a lot of benefits. You can hire better workers from a wider pool of applicants. However, your concerns will also differ from regular businesses. One of these is the process of hiring remote based junior professionals.

Every company needs entry-level workers. But, these are employees who have minimal job experience. Some of them might even be fresh graduates and usually the process of mentorship for younger hires is extremely hands-on. An in-office environment is conducive to this but that’s not possible for remote workers. So, what do you do?

The first step is hiring the right person and what criteria that involves. And the second step is the best practices to train them once they’re on board.

How to hire remote based junior professionals?

When you’re hiring remote based entry level professionals your criteria changes. Now you’re not looking for work experience, awards, or projects. So, what do you look at?

1.   Initiative

Work expertise and skill aside, the ability to take initiative is the best quality a new hire can display. Employees who display initiative don’t just stick to crossing tasks off their daily list. Instead, they invest energy into the team, think of new ideas, and go the extra mile.

And it isn’t a trait that can be -at least easily- taught. So, you should be on the lookout for signs of potential in new hires. Often these are people who take the time to look into your company beforehand and display knowledge of its workings. Even some basic statistics or information of your official website is a good sign. Also, pay close attention to candidates who ask informed questions about how you run your team.

2.   Time management

Part of being a remote entry-level worker is receiving tasks in bulk. In the corporate ladder, higher-level jobs are thought intensive while lower-level jobs are labor-intensive. Junior professionals need to put in a lot of work to learn the necessary skills.

Additionally, remote working environments don’t have direct or constant supervision. So you need to hire a worker who can complete tasks on time and self-regulate. As a result, you want to hire someone with good time management skills.

To test this skill, ask your candidate how they manage competing priorities in their life. Or to describe a time when they had to make a tough decision and prioritize. Alternatively, you can give them a hypothetical work situation to gauge how they’d react.

3.   Self-motivation

Remote working offers workers a lot of benefits, including the ability to set their own schedules. But, this is a double-edged sword. Because when you’re working from home, it’s very easy to waste time.

So, when you’re hiring a remote employee, you have to consider that this isn’t a regular office hire. You need a worker who can self-motivate and work independently without constant feedback.

Make sure you ask them about their work habits at the start of the interview. Take special note of candidates who have self-taught a skill, learned in a remote  or online based environment, or has had any type of previous online collaboration experience.

4.   Communication skills

If you’re running a remote company, that means each employee is working independently. So they all must have expert communication skills. Any delay or mismanagement in this area can affect the entire flow of your work. Your whole team will never be in a room together. So one confusing exchange between two employees can affect the entire direction of the project without ever coming to your attention.

When you’re hiring remote based junior professionals, you need to know they’ll integrate well with your team. But also adapt to the method in which you assign work, allocate tasks, and handle discourse. Note how they respond to questions and whether they’re succinct yet clear in their answers, with special focus on their writing skills, which are critical for remote communications.

5.   Purposefully remote

The final quality you should look for is people who have purposefully chosen the remote working lifestyle. Often people send out resumes to multiple companies without paying close attention to the details. Some might have even applied to your business without giving any conscious thought to the remote working aspect.

If you’re running a remote based team then being remote is very likely a key aspect of your company’s culture, so you want to ensure that any workers you hire are committed to this new way of working. They should appreciate the benefits it brings them, such as the flexibility of schedule, and are prepared to put in the work. Consider this a variation of the old ‘culture fit’ clause.

Tips for onboarding and training new hires

Once you’ve found a candidate who checks all the right boxes, you need to onboard and train them. Do not underestimate the value of this key task. Let it slack and it’ll catch up to you in the poor quality of work, miscommunication, and complaints from other employees you’ll hear after. Here are a few tips for successful onboarding and training:

Step 1 – Following communication & collaboration protocols

When you start working remotely it’s fundamental to update your company’s work policies so they become “remote-first”, specifying -among other aspects- your organization workspace, collaboration and communication policies. Any new hire should be given a new employee handbook, highlighting the protocols in place for effective remote communication and collaboration: when to use real time vs. asynchronous communication and collaboration channels, text or video, etc. avoiding intrusiveness while providing guidelines for effective remote collaboration.

Step 2 – Regular check-ins

In the beginning, it is important to check in on your junior employees periodically. After all, you can’t just throw a baby bird off of the Empire state building. Also, have someone else review their work. This doesn’t have to be the case for every task you assign them since that would strain company time and resources. But, every once in a while, pick a random sample, and check it to ensure quality.

Step 3 – Constructive feedback

Having a cycle of constructive feedback is the only way to train your new employees properly. Remote teams rarely have a strict chain of command. So every time they submit a task, make sure the person receiving the work compiles notes and critique.

You can email it to them at the end of the day, sharing via a screen recording what you’re seeing and giving a specific example of how it should be improved or changed. Then have a biweekly online meeting to address recurring concerns. Once they have been informed of a flaw in their work, take note of their progress.

Step 4 – Reduce interference gradually

It will take a few weeks for your new hire to get into the flow of things. Try to reduce direct interference gradually, so they become self-reliant. When you take a step back, you might notice small errors or delays in work. It’s important to give your employees the room to gain their footing and adjust to such changes.

Gisele Navarro, the Operations Director of NeoMam Studios, a remote based link building agency, who have been working remotely for years already, shares her own highly practical top tips for an efficient remote onboarding process:

“My top three tips for on-boarding and training new hires who are joining your remote team are:

  1. Make sure to record plenty of videos for them to re-watch as many times as they need to. Pro tip: Use Notion (notion.so) for housing training materials.
  2. Pair them with an ‘on-boarding buddy’ who can be their first point of contact for small day-to-day questions. Pro tip: Try to pick someone in the same timezone if you can.
  3. Agree on a 6-month plan with clear expectations in terms of tasks they need to be able to perform independently month on month. Pro tip: Pair this with measurable goals, find at least one number they will be responsible for.

Welcoming new team members doesn’t need to be scary, just make sure to set the stage for them to be able to know what to do, who to go to and how well they are doing without the need of asking you first.”

What steps can you take to integrate junior workers into your remote based team?

A big misconception is the idea that remote-based teams are disjointed. This is entirely false. While remote workers are expected to work independently, they must be on the same page. If your company is to succeed, your team needs to understand your vision and goal.

There are several steps you can take to integrate junior workers into the team. After you first hire your junior worker, have an online meeting to introduce them to each team member. Highlight the various roles in the team and point out the employees they’ll work for directly.

Since entry-level workers usually have the same tasks, you should shuffle them periodically. Instead of assigning one junior to a closed set of employees, have them work for various members. This will allow them to communicate directly with each remote team member. It is important that they develop these individual work relationships to avoid distance within the team. When you’re running a remote-based team, you have to take special attention to remove any barriers.

It’s important to also realize that despite these new hires might not have previous work experience, they might be already used to remote collaboration by learning in online courses in the past, having to communicate online with instructors and other students. Remember that new professional generations are already digital natives.

Hamlet Batista, CEO of Ranksense, a remote based SEO tool and consultancy shares their experience with interns:

“We hired a bunch of interns for the first time this year and love working with them remotely: 

  1. Have weekly one on one video sessions with them
  2. Ask them to write summaries of what they learn
  3. Share their progress and metrics. 

We are learning more from them than the other way around. They seem to be enjoying their work as they keep telling other classmates.”

Conclusion

Hiring remote based junior professionals is simple if you follow the right steps. Take your time with the process and don’t rush to hire the first applicant. Also, make sure they are prepared to deal with the specific challenges that come with working in a remote environment.

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