We had the opportunity to speak with a Talent Acquisition specialist from one of the biggest Medical Device companies in the world. The platform that he works for was recently acquired by the giant Medtronic, and we wanted to get some insight into remote hiring.
Covid-19 has forced many businesses to become agile and implement different processes and strategies to enable them to scale during a global pandemic, and for the company in question – they were focusing on hiring rather than furloughing staff, as Medtronic were one of the main Medical Device companies producing ventilators to support hospitals and Covid-19 wards with the influx of patients.
So, when did you first start implementing remote hiring?
“When I first joined the business, we’d done a very small portion of hiring over in the USA which was remote, as at the time we didn’t have an office out there. For us, the decision to move to a remote working and hiring model happened a lot quicker than other industries – probably because we work within Medical Devices. It was crucial to be as safe as possible.
In February we made the changes and since then, I’ve onboarded 15 people completely remotely. Prior to the remote hiring, we’d brought in 52 direct hires across practically every team: Tech, QA, RA, Marketing, Sales. Now we sit at just under 140 people.
What have the challenges been with remote hiring?
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that your unique value proposition as a business is so much harder to communicate when you can’t show candidates the office, they don’t get a feel for the culture – it’s very clinical when done through a screen. We aren’t a traditional company in the space which is what definitely sets us apart, but it’s a case of communicating that effectively when you’re trying to entice someone to choose your brand.
I was devastated at the beginning because I had some excellent candidates in the pipeline before we had to become remote, but it’s something that I’ve adapted to and learned a lot about as time has gone on!
What have the benefits been with remote hiring?
I think if you look at our business specifically, as we are owned by a much larger corporation – we have a competitive advantage to offer excellent benefits and salary packages to candidates; so in that sense having a great brand behind us has enabled us to attract amazing talent.
The benefit overall with remote hiring is the amount of candidates that are looking for work, for multiple reasons. Although things have been difficult it’s important to see the downturns as an opportunity, and we’ve had access to amazing talent over the last few months.
What new things have you learnt about yourself in your role during a remote hiring process?
My biggest learning is that I do know best when it comes to hiring and when you’re running a remote process you have to be stricter with hiring managers. You no longer get the opportunity to grab a coffee with them in the office anymore. For me, something I’ve learnt is the importance of educating hiring managers in this ‘new normal’ we are living in and setting boundaries with them.
For example, where I can’t physically chase them for feedback or interview slots, I’ve now made rules where they have a time frame to respond to me about hiring or I’ll simply put their role on hold. It’s something that I wouldn’t have done prior to us going remote, but it’s improved our process because it holds people accountable.
For those who are going to continue embracing a remote model, what’s your advice?
The key really is over-communication. We’ve had to be so proactive with our new starters to make sure that they have absolutely everything to enable them to thrive in a remote environment. If you have the mindset of sending someone a laptop and leaving them to their own devices, that isn’t a true reflection of how you’d treat them in the office.
Organise virtual lunches, drinks and regularly check in, because it does go a long way. A part of that is also accepting that the experience will never be the same as being in the office, but if you can replicate elements of it then you’re on the right path. Distanced meetings in the park have worked for us providing people can get there safely.
Another piece of advice is around feedback and how important it is. Whether it’s during an interview process or once someone has joined, feedback in a remote business is the key to pushing forwards. If you’re not taking the time to compose a rejection email that can dramatically impact your brand, even if you are owned by a Medical Device giant, then you’re doing it wrong. You should have the same mindset as a smaller company when it comes to your brand reputation.
How do you see agencies slotting into remote hiring and supporting Talent Acquisition teams?
I think I speak for a lot of Talent Acquisition consultants when I say that we value agencies because in reality, they have their ears to the ground constantly with what’s going on in the market. However, although they have a huge part to play it needs to come from a place of quality. Adding value and providing market insights, and other tools aside from “recruitment” is how agencies will be able to thrive and support Talent Acquisition teams who need support running a complete remote model. The industry is definitely evolving.