We have taken on a bunch of new colleagues since the pandemic hit and I am excited to be sharing our learnings in a free breakfast session next week with Wired Sussex, all about the way we have tackled virtual recruitment and onboarding during lockdown.
UPDATE: A great time was had with host Rebecca Groves and a great attendee turnout. Thanks to everyone who came along!
A bunch of interesting questions were asked – check out the full recording here:
Rebecca also interviewed me for the Wired Sussex blog recently, touching on recruitment, onboarding and a lot more: – here’s
What have been the key challenges of completing the recruitment process virtually?
2020 was always going to be a big year of growth and recruitment for Anything is Possible, and we weren’t in the mood to let the pandemic slow that down.
We’re a digital-first media partnership, so there has always been that virtual element in all our processes, including recruitment. We’re used to finding (or building) new tech to solve our problems and we’ve approached lockdown recruitment in the same way.
But the truth of the pandemic and what it’s done to the world around us can’t be avoided:
Uncertainty is a problem for markets, people and employers.
We have a lot of sympathy for how this affects our new recruits’ feelings about us. A question every applicant has around the interview stage is ‘What’s going on in our future, what’s the plan?’
But – like with a lot of things – when uncertainty is an issue you can’t go too far wrong if you respond with honesty, authenticity – and a strong vision of what you’re doing.
When it comes to recruitment, our vision is simple. We want to be the best place to work in Brighton. We want the most talented people in this incredible hub of digital expertise to break our door down to work with us.
Plans can and have to change because it’s a crazy world out there. But communicating a strong vision with clarity and passion can go a long way to giving your new recruits the assurance they are after.
How have you solved those recruitment challenges?
I do sometimes wonder if Zoom teamed up with Slack to create the whole lockdown situation – that’s how ubiquitous they’ve become! But these tools were normal parts of our infrastructure anyway, if not quite so heavily used.
What’s different is the way we apply them to new challenges like recruitment. And because they are tools which are easy for anyone to use, but actually take a little bit of insight and intelligence to use well, they show us a surprising amount the candidate might not be aware of.
The way someone looks to me on Zoom is how they will look to our clients, which is an interesting perspective to be able to shift to.
Were there any unexpected benefits of recruiting virtually?
We’ve rediscovered the value of our Wired Sussex membership, that’s for sure!
When literally everything has gone digital, purpose-built networks-within-networks become more valuable. They help narrow your focus by geography and specialism, and switch from a global to a local view as necessary.
Thinking about these kind of micro-networks, and how colleagues might relate to them internally and externally as part of their experience of the organisation, holds a lot of potential interest for the way people fit into our ways of working, and how you build organisations around d the kinds of networks people organically intersect with in their everyday lives. .
What tips do you have for people about to start recruiting virtually?
Since founding we have operated an Anywhere is Possible policy where we support our colleagues in working wherever they choose. This was initially about flexibility, work-life balance and living out our belief that empowered individuals deliver the best work.
But it’s proven to be more than that. First off, it meant that we were able to spread globally and find the right people for the job wherever they are. This has meant growing from my garden shed to London, Sydney and the Phillipines without really noticing the distances involved.
But it also meant we had resilience baked-in to our working processes and procedures. When a black swan event like the pandemic came along, we were able to adapt without stress or serious impediment.
It turns out that trusting people and asking them to give their all – and playing fair and rewarding them for it – has simple, serious, practical advantages for how a growing business today can work.
If you make that attitude a key part of your approach to recruitment you will reap the benefits in unexpected ways.