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Hiring from Afar: 6 Ways to Prep for Successful Remote On-Boarding

July 22nd, 2020

Image of a woman with curly brown hair on a laptop screen on a wooden desk. There is a plant and computer monitor in the background. The woman is dressed in business attire.

If you’re interviewing and on-boarding candidates remotely, auditing your hiring process is critical.

Pre-pandemic, there was a quiet confidence that remote employees had (at some point) met another team member in person, had an in-person interview, or were available for an in-office meeting. Should the need arise, face-to-face interaction was readily available.

But even as many states start to re-open, some companies are opting for remote onboarding and full or partially remote work. However, with many offices closed, companies restricting visitors or practicing social distancing – the opportunity to meet someone before they start working, even once, has been limited.

While your current employees may be thriving remotely, they have a distinct advantage over new hires.  They’ve worked in-person together, understand their positions, and know their projects.  The rapport is already built. Expectations are clear.

But hiring and on-boarding someone you’ve only met via video chat is daunting if it isn’t part of your regular practice. There is a real risk of underperformance or lack of engagement from someone who otherwise would be a spectacular hire. Navigating these virtual changes, clearly defining the process, and accepting that you cannot hire the same way will lead to productive, remote hiring.

Define Your Hiring & Interviewing Process

While the overarching hiring process may not change – screenings, interviews, skills tests; the way in which these occur does. Defining the process means understanding the details. Who is taking on the responsibility for the process – who is managing it? Often, a hiring manager or HR manager will act as a point person on-site, introducing candidates to their interviewers, providing check-ins, and serving as the welcoming committee.  But virtually, this cohesive and automatic progression is replaced with meeting invites and email chains. 

Additionally, it’s important to audit your hiring process and adapt it to the current situation.  If timed skills tests are traditionally taken on-site, what is new procedure? Does a tech test now weigh more in the consideration process? Is it more important than hiring for the right culture fit or hiring someone who is eager to learn and be part of the team?

Defining the process gives a clear picture to internal stakeholders as well as candidates.  Everyone can expect and understand the interviewing timeline, the priorities, and what factors are the most crucial in deciding to hire.

Remote On-Boarding

The hiring process isn’t over when an offer is extended.  This is truly the beginning of building a rapport with a new employee. By accepting a position, an employee has bought into the job, but buy-in and engagement are critical every step of the way.  We think of ‘Day One’ as meeting colleagues, filling out paperwork, and observing company culture. But when this interaction disappears, who takes over to welcome and engage the new hire? 

The details matter. How are work authorizations being filled out? Will there be a virtual welcome happy hour? Has someone been in regular contact with the new employee; giving them an outline of what is expected their first week? It may seem like a lot of fanfare, but it’s a ritual we automatically perform when a new employee arrives on-site. 

Set Up for Success

Hiring is about filling a business need. Projects aren’t finished and goals aren’t met without the right talent.  And this means setting up your employees for success. Regular in-office contact and feedback is natural, but it’s easy to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind in a remote position, especially as the new guy. Remote employees (particularly if this isn’t your regular practice) aren’t adjunct members of the team.

Who is responsible for the new hire’s success?  Who can they go to with issues? Who will introduce them to managers or co-workers? Who will help them understand and thrive in the team dynamic?

Setting up an employee for success means starting on day one. It is your responsibility as the employer to provide this support and structure. It is less haphazard than sending someone down the hall to fill out forms or grabbing a coffee with a manager.

Defining Goals

Broadly defining the goals of the job should occur before the first interview takes place.  These goals should narrow and be explicit by the time your remote employee gets starts.  Without measured goals, you are setting up your new hire for failure.

It should be abundantly clear what the work product is the first days, weeks, or months. Both sides need to understand the measures of success and how evaluations will be performed.

Communicating Changes

What does remote on-boarding actually mean? Even if your organization hasn’t made formal return-to-office plans, it’s important to clearly communicate the expectations to your new hire. What is the narrative around returning to the office? Will some people continue to work remotely?

Be upfront about the changing situation.  Whether it is temporary, evolving, or unknown – it will save a lot of confusion and frustration later.

Hiring in a Vacuum

Don’t assume that you are the only company that is hiring. In areas like technology where unemployment continues to be at record lows – candidates have multiple competitive offers. They’re spending less time commuting and have more time to interview at their leisure. Whatever hiring process you define, consider the timing, be competitive with your offer, know what you want, and assume that you aren’t the only one pursuing this person.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to hiring during this time. Successfully hiring and on-boarding remotely is new for many organizations. It is likely more involved, and more process driven than what we’ve come to know as standard practices. But maybe this shake up will force us to audit ourselves and clarify what is most important.

If you are unsure how to begin to define your process or haven’t worked frequently with remote employees, Talener can help. From sharing current market data to helping you audit your hiring practices; we are available to provide insight and guidance to navigate the ‘new’ normal.

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Posted in Clients, News, Talener Blog, Uncategorized

Work From Home Burnout

May 4th, 2020

Finding balance, giving yourself grace, and accepting that everything isn’t just fine.

Working from home is a privilege that does not require risking our own health and safety every day. We know that the inconvenience of barking dogs or tiny city dwellings are annoying, but far better than the reality that many are facing.

However, even in what we could call the ‘best of conditions’, there is a real risk of burnout that can affect productivity, expectations, and overall mental well-being. We have scraped together new routines over the last several weeks; all while dealing with some level of anxiety and frustration. What signs of burnout should you look for and how do you change the mindset?

Guilt & Anxiety

You feel guilty about the work that you are doing (or not doing). Perhaps you should have done one more item on your checklist, finished up one last project, or made one more phone call. After all, you’re saving time on the commute, going out for lunch, and socializing with co-workers.

Perhaps you are comparing yourself to your co-workers and it’s causing anxiety & guilt? If your co-worker sent an email at 6:30 am, does that mean that you should be doing the same? It is easy to want to create benchmarks.  You can rationalize the decisions that you are making when there is a beacon guiding you.  But this is a time when we’re juggling new systems, children at home, and schedule disruptions. Focus on what is expected of you and lay out those expectations with your manager so there are no ‘should have’, ‘could have’ feelings.

You’re making yourself available 24 hours a day

Your office phone is forwarded to your cell phone, the video conferencing app is downloaded, and your email notifications come through to every device you own. You’re feeling the need to be available and accessible 24 hours a day – trying to avoid the ‘out of sight, out of mind”.

Being in a cycle of constant visibility and accessibility to your co-workers or managers is exhausting. If you wouldn’t do it in a normal office setting, then you shouldn’t be doing it in a work-from-home setting. Even if you are not working all-day, every day — if you’re feeling the need to be available all of the time, this may affect your ability to wind down and recharge . Find the right time to turn off notifications, stop answering emails, and communicate with co-workers. If you’re feeling uneasy about not being available at a moment’s notice, talk to your manager about your schedule and when you cannot be immediately available.

You can’t stop working

Not only are you available 24-hours a day, but you are working many more hours than you normally would. You’re skipping meals, breaks, and exercise in favor of getting work done.

While you may think that you’re being more productive by stretching out eight-hour days to twelve, fourteen, or more – it’s likely that you’re not taking care of yourself as well as you should. There are many instances in which working too much actually provides diminishing returns in work quality.

This is the time to set boundaries and create a schedule to force yourself to stop and take a breath.  Schedule breaks, exercise, lunch, and shutdown times.  Ensure that meetings are scheduled within normal working hours.  It is imperative to draw a line under the day and end it when it needs to end. If you wouldn’t have answered a late-night email before working from home, then you shouldn’t be doing it now.

You can’t find your groove

Working from home is not for everyone . It just isn’t. It can be a nice break from time-to-time, but for many, it just isn’t part of their routine that gets them out of bed and ready to tackle the day. Some people genuinely enjoy the in-office interaction or the face-to-face meetings with clients. 

If you’ve never gotten into the WFH groove and you are resenting the situation as time passes, this can trickle down to other parts of your life.  Are you overreacting to professional and personal situations that wouldn’t normally irk you? Are you struggling to use the makeshift home-office that you set up? Are you accumulating take-out containers as you work from bed (for the 3rd week in a row)?

Acknowledging the burnout is the first step to dealing with the situation. While it may seem like everyone else has got this down, it’s very likely that they’re facing similar challenges. There is only so much that you can see in a video conference call or via email.


At the end of the day, it may be hard to avoid the burnout. You may be in a situation where you’re playing the role of parent, teacher, and employee.  Dramatically changing your routine may not be in the cards; but very small measurable steps can help you get through each day and help you to slowly take control of the burnout. Things may not go back to the normal that we now yearn, but this situation isn’t permanent and we must take care of ourselves in order to be better employees, families, and members of society.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

Asking the Right Questions: Accepting a Job During the Pandemic

April 27th, 2020

Four people are around a table with laptops. A woman and man are sitting, smiling. Two men are standing, shaking hands across the table.
Young modern men in smart casual wear shaking hands and smiling while working in the creative office

Even if you find yourself in a position or an industry that has been spared from severe economic hardship or layoffs, there is still anxiety about changing jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing what types of questions to ask a potential new employer or a recruiter is critical to your career when there are so many unknowns. There is a new normal that we will face, and it is important to understand how it will impact your new job.

Consider the following questions as you navigate the hiring process during this time?

Have you had to lay off or furlough any staff? Which ones?

This question can be asked in many ways, but it is important to understand the general well-being of the organization. If there are lay offs or furloughs, who were they?

Is there a waiting period for health benefits?

For many, COBRA or the health insurance marketplace may be too expensive – even in the short-term. Find out if there is a waiting period on health benefits. If there is, ask them to waive it and negotiate this into your package.

How will I be on-boarded?

If your potential employer is currently WFH, how are they on-boarding new employees? Will you receive equipment? Will you have someone to walk you through the first few days in the same way you would in an office / team setting? How are they dealing with team introductions and assignments?

How am I being evaluated?

It is important to understand the how and what of evaluation if you will be starting your new job while working at home (when you would otherwise be in an office environment –even partially).

What are the measures of success? Am I expected to produce on the first day? The first week? The first month? Who will be evaluating my performance? Who can I go to with questions?

When am I expected to be available?

Find out whether you have core hours or whether you have flexibility. Will this continue once things are back to ‘normal’? If the position is traditionally in-office, how many days will you be expected in the physical office?

Is there any flexibility? For example, many schools or after-school care programs are closed for the remainder of the academic year.

What will the transition back to ‘normal’ be?

While a plan may not yet be fully formed, particularly in areas of high impact, it is reasonable to ask how the company will be addressing changes in the office – cleanings, social distancing, masks, seating arrangements, staggered shifts, in-person meetings, etc.  It is important to understand these changes and expectations.


The Talener team is currently working from home and providing continued (but adapted!) services to our clients and candidates. If you have questions about the types of companies that are hiring and how the hiring process is functioning during this time, please feel free to contact us.

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Posted in Career Tips, Talener Blog

On-Boarding Employees During COVID-19: ICE Relaxes Requirements

March 31st, 2020

While hundreds of thousands of people have faced layoffs over the past several weeks, hiring remains critical in areas such as healthcare (including telehealth), technology, and CPG. Many technology companies that support work-from-home efforts are seeing platform usage rise.  Microsoft Teams has seen a 775% increase in usage in areas that are largely affected by the virus.

These hiring shifts present unique circumstances for managers and recruiters alike, as they attempt to on-board new staff while also meeting I-9 and E-Verify guidelines. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that they will temporarily be flexible regarding the I-9 guidelines for as long as the national emergency surrounding COVID-19 exists or 60 days from March 20th, 2020 (whichever comes first).

For employers and recruiters who are following COVID-19 guidelines, particularly in regard to limiting physical proximity – ICE is allowing new employee identity and employment authorization documents to initially be reviewed without a physical presence.  Documents should still be reviewed remotely.

The full press release explains the steps that employers should take to virtually and then physically examine the documents once normal operations resume. Please read the official Department of Homeland Security press release here for specific employer requirements.

This temporary flexibility for on-boarding only applies to employers and workplaces who are currently operating remotely and have no employees physically present and able to inspect I-9 documentation.

This declaration by DHS is an important part of helping the wider community fill their business needs, without burdening employers and recruiters with the physical presence requirements.

During this time, Talener is prepared for virtual on-boarding and is working closely with candidates and clients to help them understand this temporary on-boarding change.

If you have any questions about on-boarding new employees during this time, please reach out to your Talener representative. Talener is proud to support our candidates and clients during this time.

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Posted in Talener Blog, Uncategorized

Conference Calls, Couches & Keeping My Sanity: I Hate Working From Home

March 17th, 2020

Woman with brown shoulder-length hair holding her hands to her face as she works from home in front of a computer
Shot of a young woman looking stressed while using a laptop to work from home

There is an allure to working from home if you are an on-site employee.  Just once a week, it would be nice to skip the commute, work from bed, and play music while you type away.  If you regularly work from home, then you likely have a schedule, a set-up, and have chosen this type of work lifestyle.  You’re prepared and your daily life likely hasn’t changed too much. 

But for many, navigating the work-from-home model during the COVID-19 outbreak means a drastic adjustment to everyday life.  There are plenty of great tips and tricks to making your space work-friendly and keeping yourself focused.  But what happens when you hate working from home? What happens when you thrive on your office environment for conversation, motivation, and energy?

Particularly in this critical moment, work-from-home doesn’t mean work-from-anywhere — libraries, cafes, and public spaces are closed in many states and people are being strongly encouraged to isolate themselves.

As inherently social creatures (even introverts!), forced isolation can be tough. Spending a weekend binging your favorite show and never leaving your home is a choice. But somehow, when it’s forced, it’s no longer enjoyable.

So how do you get through the dread of working from home while everyone else is celebrating in their pajamas?

Take a Break

Sometimes lack of motivation is tough for newly minted work-from-home employees. But sometimes the opposite is true.  Overworking yourself to make the day go by faster — without taking your normal breaks can burn you out.  It’s far easier to leave a physical office at the end of the day and mentally shut down.

Being motivated and productive is great, but if you are going to be in a forced work-from-home environment for the foreseeable future, then scheduling breaks and a firm end-of-workday time, are critical.

Take a walk, bake, call your friends, check in on your parents, or catch up on your favorite drama.  Take a few moments to stop working and bring some normalcy back into your life.

Encourage Communication

It’s so easy to ask a question and collaborate when you’re in a shared office space.  “Have a minute? Can I run something by you?” – it seems trivial until you have to try to schedule a time to meet or need an answer ASAP.

If you have a team, or a close group of co-workers with whom you have regular contact, schedule a few five or ten-minute sessions every day to video conference with them. These are the people who make your in-office experience great.  It’s easy to chat via instant messaging, but socialization and communication needs aren’t always met this way.  Maybe it’s a laugh or a quick catch up to get you re-energized before the next big project.

Change it Up

Chances are, if your company has allowed (or mandated) work-from-home, then you have some flexibility in your schedule.  If you are in a position where you only need to be physically present during core hours or mandatory meetings, talk to your manager about working when you are most productive. Try to align your schedule with your natural cycle of productivity. Take advantage of your night-owl or early-bird tendencies.  You may find larger chunks of time during the day that you can focus on yourself, your family, or your home.

At the end of the day, for many, this mandated work-from-home model is short-term. For the weeks ahead, we can adjust, adapt and know that we are doing this for the greater good and to stop the spread of Coronavirus.  But it’s important to acknowledge that working from home is not for everyone. It isn’t always as simple as eating breakfast in bed, in your pajamas, and going about your day as if nothing has changed. 


Talener is committed to the safety and health of its employees, clients and candidates. All Talener offices are currently working from a work-from-home model. It is important that we are able to have a happy and healthy team who can continue to help candidates find jobs and help clients fulfill business needs during this unprecedented time. We thank you for all of your patience and for adapting your practices as we all navigate these changes.

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Posted in Talener Blog

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