There have been several issues in recruiting that have been hot topics of discussion lately. I would like to touch on Virtual Recruiting/Remote Recruiting.

I cannot believe the amount of attention this topic has attracted. I can't believe the tremendous disdain for remote work by seemingly leading corporations "trying" to compete (so they say) in a global, growing economy. When the internet began to get really hot, it opened a lot of doors and leveled some playing fields for many. As technology began to refine and develop, everyone thought the strides would make it possible to work "anywhere". Technology has allowed major companies to get into new markets, and have allowed the creations of new companies who business model relies on "virtual technology" to service their customers. It shocked and disturbed me to hear of some of these very same companies adamantly disapprove of remote workers! At first I thought, what a shame to miss out on an opportunity to work with some really talented recruiters. But then I got upset. How hypocritical! How can you service your clients remotely, yet you want someone chained to a desk for work that can be done literally ANYWHERE? How can you justify that? How can you call yourself being globally competitive, yet enforce antiquated policies?

Granted, there are some bad apples out there who mess it up for everyone else. But I ask you, if these people couldn't work independently without supervision at home, would they succeed onsite? How much time of your day would you spend holding their hands and looking over their shoulders to make sure they are staying on task? Would they perform so much better onsite? Would it make a difference if they were in the office? Probably not because a good recruiter can make it happen anywhere. If you haven't had success with this work method then maybe you should be looking at the people you are hiring. I think it also speaks to the processes in place and the management when a virtual recruiter doesn't work out. A good recruiter is a good recruiter and will get the job done whether they are in a cube next to you, two offices down from you, at the local library. or sitting at their kitchen table. I contend that either 1) you made a bad hiring choice (the recruiter wouldn't have succeeded anyway), 2) your management skills are not up to par, 3) your process and policies are not accommodating for remote workers, or 4) the communication and expectations were not properly discussed. It could be one or all of these. But to those who "hate" remote work solutions, look inside yourself first.

Guess what? Technology is ever evolving and times, they are a changing. You need to get with it or get left behind. Truly good recruiters can deliver quality work from anywhere. Why is this topic such a source of friction? As long as you have a dedicated recruiter, someone who is responsible and has a proven track record, then it shouldn't matter if they are in your face at the office or working from a home office. I keep saying in today's growing global technological world it is ignorant to take a negative view on virtual recruiting. And you know what? That top notch recruiter you want will get snatched up by a smarter company who appreciates their value and they'll have a better competitive advantage over your antiquated company.

Managers & HR

As in any business situation, you need to be diligent with your hiring process. Make sure you check their history and find out how they did working remotely. What was their success ratio? How do they manage their time? How often is the communication with the hiring managers, HR, direct managers, team members, etc? Do they have the appropriate tools (self-supplied or given to them) to do their work? Are their metrics and expectations in place and were they discussed coming in? Are they capable of hitting the ground running? How long have they worked remotely? And most importantly, what can they bring to the table? Put them on a trial basis or a probational period. Have guidelines in place to ensure quality of work. Keep communications constant (read: NOT MICROMANAGE). Make the person feel part of the team. As a manager it should be your responsibility to ensure communications are clear and that the person is carrying their load. Also, give them some autonomy and responsibilities to keep them interested in working for you. Trust them to do the job you hired them to do. Another final thought, when you hire agencies, do they work onsite? Think about that!

Virtual/Remote Recruiters

I have had the great fortune of working remotely for the last several years. With the exception of one, I have had all great experiences. I've been recruiting for 15 years. I went through the expense and time of outfitting my own office with the latest in audio-video conferencing and other "toys" to make it as if I am right there. I am at a point in my career where I will NOT work onsite again unless I decide otherwise. And trust, there have been plenty of ongoing opportunities for me over the years. I'm great at what I do and I get the job done. Maybe you some of you should read that article about Cisco's Virtual Work program. I'd be happy to share it (email me for a copy). But I wanted to share some things with Recruiters who want to work remotely.

First and foremost, keep your skills up to date! Continuing education is key. You cannot expect to be an asset and to be taken seriously for working remotely if all you do is scan Monster and Careerbuilder for candidates. Take advantage of all of the information out there and learn how to boost your sourcing skills. There are tons of information on internet search and recruiting. Free or paid, you should be making an effort to "educate" yourself every month. Look for the teachings of Jim Stroud, Shally Steckerl, Lou Adler, etc. Join some of the user groups (Yahoo, etc) and network. Or at least read. Check out the various recruiting related blogs and websites. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, don't let your telephone sourcing skills fall to the way side. It's a long lost art that some people have forgotten. Brush up on it!

Outfit your office. Now, I'm not saying go out and buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment. A quality phone, high speed internet, a quality web camera, audio-video (Netmeeting and Skype are low cost/free alternatives), a cell phone/PDA, a headset, etc. As I mentioned, I've been fortunate to have been able to build my own office. It takes time. But the end result is more efficient work space and better communications. As technology continues to evolve, I'm sure there will be other goodies out there.

Get Networked!!! Get out there and connect. Linked In, Soflow, Jobster, ZoomInfo, etc, etc. Make the connections. Personalize your connections. Put a voice or a face with the connections. You want to expand you network of other recruiters and candidates (past and present). Nobody wants to hire someone to recruit who doesn't have a steady network.

Be responsible. Working remotely is still considered a gift and a privilege you earn. Keep in constant communication. Prepare weekly status reports. Check in often with you manager, the hiring managers, and the HR team. If you have instant messenger or the company provides you with it, use that as well. Be respectful of time. You can't spend time surfing the internet and watching tv. You are getting paid to deliver, not dawdle. Set weekly goals for yourself. Make an action plan and discuss with you manager. If you are not meeting your goals or their expectations, then something is wrong. Keep working at the process until it is comfortable for everyone.

Under promise and over deliver. All eyes are on you....literally! If you consistently fall below the mark, guess what? Your manager will pull the plug so fast it'll make your head spin. And most likely you won't be considered for virtual work again. If you fail, it not only makes you look bad, but also your manager (who approved this) and HR. The last thing hiring managers want to deal with is ineffectiveness and the last thing management wants to deal with is wasted money! So stay on your toes, get the job done, and consistently give 150% to this job.

And finally, research. Keep track of the latest developments within companies you may want to work with. Speak with HR professionals and discuss working remotely. If they see a value add to hiring you to work remotely, that is half the battle won. Seek out companies and agencies who allow for virtual work. Start off with them. Or, if you are with a company that is willing to do it on a trial basis, try one or two days a week. Make them comfortable enough to gradually expand that until it is fully virtual.

If you (companies) can service your clients virtually, why can't a recruiter service you virtually? Step out of the stone age and get with it...or get left behind.

Til next time.

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