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Amid the coronavirus outbreak, much of the US tech workforce is currently working from home. While Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Google were among the first to ask employees to work from home earlier this month, right now almost everyone is expected to work from home when possible…and at some companies it’s not a suggestion, it’s a mandate. While the transition to remote work is certainly bringing some bumps in the road for some, current tech workforces are already familiar with the work and the processes – so, for the most part it’s been small scale adjustments. But what happens when your whole team is remote, and you need to still hire and onboard new talent?

Tech companies cannot afford to let the new remote work protocols interfere with their hiring needs. While some companies have already announced hiring freezes for full-time employees, the tech industry has not yet experienced the same initial impact as travel and hospitality. In the near term, companies will inevitably have team members out sick in the coming weeks, organizations are already demanding more technology solutions to fuel their own remote workforces, and market uncertainty will most likely lead to more demand for contract workers. These factors will further exacerbate the pains of keeping an active, qualified tech team. Yes, talent needs will ebb and flow in the coming weeks and months, but regardless of how they change, remote working shouldn’t be the reason for the disruption.

The coronavirus aside, long gone are the days when meeting face-to-face before making an offer was necessary. The pace of hiring talent has quickened. When it comes to hiring, the most effective tech companies make fast decisions, often that same day.  Introduce the current working environment, and in-person interviews and hiring are now an even greater challenge. There are steps companies can take to overcome these hurdles. Following are three things companies need to do to keep securing tech talent, even when offices are closed

1. Eliminate face-to-face interviews

Use phone and video to interview candidates; they are easier and more efficient than in-person interviews. Apps like Skype, WebEx and Workplace by Facebook’s BlueJeans allow you to easily conduct video interviews. Collabedit allows real-time screen sharing windows for coding and other technical questions that need to be asked and skills tested.

If your office is open, I’d still recommend phone and video interviews over in-person. One of our recruiters shared a recent story of an engineer contractor candidate who did well on a video interview. As a next step, the company requested a 90-minute in-person, onsite interview. The engineer passed on the opportunity. He was still wrapping up his current assignment and couldn’t make the time. The company lost the qualified talent because of the interview process itself.

2. Shorten your interview cycle

I’ve seen too many companies still want to conduct three or four rounds of interviews. Dragging out the hiring process frustrates both candidate and employer, causing the talent to lose interest and the company to lose the candidate.

For contract employees, companies should be able to assess whether they want to make an offer after just one interview. Understandably, you may want more than one interview with potential full-time employees. But keep in mind the longer you extend the hiring process, the less chance you have in a successful hire. Other companies competing for that same talent are cutting their interview cycle time and making offers quickly. We have clients who hire contractors the same day as the interview.

Don’t be afraid to make the offer after one interview. IT unemployment is lower than the national average, making top talent even scarcer. Most of our contractors are interviewing more than once a day, so our top clients make hiring decisions within 24 hours.

If you realize after one interview it’s not a good fit, move on. You can’t afford to waffle. If someone is not a match or doesn’t have the skills, don’t force it. The average job fill rate is greatly impacted by slow decision making. For our clients who act quickly, fill rate is 80% or higher. One of our tech clients has close to a 100% fill rate. The company’s secret? After a 30-minute phone screen, he calls immediately with feedback, and either decides or moves on.

3. Onboard remotely

Each day more and more companies are temporarily transitioning their teams to remote work, so chances are your new hires will work remotely, too. So, what does that mean for onboarding?

Onboarding can absolutely be done remotely. Paperwork that previously may have been done on Day 1 in the office can be securely emailed through DocuSign or other e-signature platforms. Laptops and other devices can be mailed to the new hire’s home. Video conferencing can be used for one-on-one onboarding meetings, as well as introducing new hires to the team. Some tech companies are already conducting big video conference classes for orientations.

Coronavirus is undoubtedly impacting the way we do business right now. While we navigate the changes and take precautions, leveraging technology and making quick decisions can help us maintain some of our best practices in securing the hard-to-find tech talent we all know we need.

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