Effective Recruitment in the Virtual Environment

By | April 5, 2021

Following a whirlwind year, most professionals have adjusted to conducting business remotely. Relationships have been built and strengthened over instant messages.

Leaders have made high stakes decisions during video conferences. Executives have been tasked with guiding their organizations and people through unknown scenarios with agility and confidence. At the same time, hiring and onboarding new employees through a computer screen has become commonplace.

While a small number of insurers are beginning to invite senior-level candidates into the office during the interview process, the majority of companies continue to rely solely on virtual interviewing, hiring and onboarding. According to a LinkedIn survey, 70% of talent experts expect virtual recruiting to become the new standard. Today’s candidates have more experience with the remote recruiting process as well, taking its orchestration into account as they evaluate your organization.

Even if you adapted your recruiting strategy to fit a virtual format at the beginning of the pandemic, now is the time to ensure it’s still effective and is providing the best possible outcomes at all stages of the candidate journey.

Rethink How You Attract Talent

It’s important to revisit your recruiting strategy and prepare to attract new talent throughout 2021, especially if you put hiring on the back burner last year. In our recent Q1 2021 Insurance Labor Outlook Study, conducted in partnership with Aon plc, 56% of insurers shared they plan to increase staff in the next 12 months. This, paired with the industry’s current 2.2% unemployment rate, indicates a labor market that is not slowing down. Without a solid strategy that emphasizes the candidate experience, you risk losing highly qualified individuals to competitors.

How are you positioning your company, its open roles and its corporate culture? Professionals value flexibility, a sense of connection and shared purpose, and growth opportunities. Throughout the interview process, uncover what is most important to individual candidates and share how your organization can help meet those needs. Are flexible hours crucial for them to balance both work and family responsibilities? Do they want to eventually return to a brick-and-mortar office or would they prefer to work from home long-term? Does your organization offer mentoring or development opportunities that can help them move toward larger professional goals?

During the interview process, focus on making a connection and interacting in a way that enables you to evaluate a candidate’s soft skills. Although you’re not meeting someone face-to-face, it’s still possible to gain insight into areas such as decision-making, adaptability, emotional intelligence, communication skills and more. Observe how they approach the interview, their facial expressions and body language, and even how they react to any technology glitches. Ask questions that uncover leadership abilities and critical thinking skills. By being observant and coming into the interview prepared with strategic questions, you’ll be able to garner the information necessary to extend an offer.

It’s also important to be strategic regarding who will interview an individual. Outside of the hiring manager and recruiter, are there others who can showcase the organization’s values and provide a feel for the culture? Consider scheduling a series of shorter back-to-back interviews to introduce candidates to potential teammates.

This can help recreate the sense of energy they may have otherwise experienced when walking through your office space for an interview. You can take this a step further by sharing virtual office tours and discussing what the candidate can expect when physical offices reopen.

Following the interview, keep lines of communication open and maintain momentum. Don’t delay making an offer to the right individual. Insurance is still a competitive market, and it’s likely top candidates have other options on the table.

Be Strategic with Onboarding

In the remote environment, it’s more important than ever to create an onboarding process that is comprehensive and welcoming. Starting a new job is daunting, especially when you’re physically isolated from teammates and colleagues. Provide a detailed schedule to guide employees through their first several days or weeks. Discuss what will take place in each meeting or training and help set their expectations. Creating alignment early on can help individuals feel more confident about their role and progress, while alleviating uncertainties.

Be intentional about introducing new hires to members of their team, as well as other individuals they will be working with closely. This could mean scheduling a team lunch on their first day or facilitating shorter one-on-one discussions to help lay the foundation for strong working relationships. Provide them with a point of contact for questions as they build their confidence within the role.

In addition to creating these connections, start off on the right foot by meeting technology needs early on. Deliver computers, phones, headsets and other devices to employees prior to their start dates. Ensure someone on your IT team is available for any questions or challenges as they log onto company computers and systems for the first time. Tech issues can derail a first day and cause unnecessary stress and delays.

Once a new hire is up and running, make it a point to check in at least daily for the first few weeks. In addition to relationship-building, this provides an opportunity to understand how the employee is feeling about their workload, recognize any barriers you can help remove and answer questions they might have. Along with these brief conversations, schedule a formal time to meet one-on-one weekly or biweekly to ensure ongoing alignment.

Take time to evaluate your current recruitment strategy and ensure it is meeting the needs of both your organization and potential candidates. As the industry moves forward in virtual work, being able to attract and onboard new talent is key to future success.

About David Coons

Coons is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email: dcoons@jacobsononline.com. More from David Coons

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