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Hitting the ground running

Virtual recruitment and virtual onboarding solutions have been life-savers for hiring organisations during the pandemic, including Dell Technologies Gold Partner Solutionize Global, which has recruited 25 new employees since March. Here, Kirsty Carter, Chief of Staff for the £43 million turnover provider of digital solutions, professional services and business process services, explains why she believes virtual onboarding is the ‘future of recruitment’ and a great tool for tackling the UK technology skills shortage.

“I firmly believe virtual onboarding is the future when it comes to tackling the skills gap within our industry,” declares Kirsty Carter, Chief of Staff at Yorkshire-headquartered technology solutions and services provider Solutionize Global (SG).

Her conviction is based on SG’s use of communication tools, such as video conferencing and instant messaging, during the recruitment and onboarding of 25 new employees since March – from across the length (if not the breadth) of England.

“We have some amazing talent in Yorkshire, and this way of welcoming new people into Solutionize Global has enabled us to recruit throughout the north of England. We’ve attracted people from further afield too. For example, our head of alliances is based in Southampton and has only stepped foot in our office twice since being onboarded in 2020.”

Kirsty says that technology has also proved invaluable in helping new recruits who may be working remotely to settle in more quickly.

“It’s not about getting rid of face-to-face meetings but addressing how we can use tech to our advantage, to enhance our processes and strengthen and develop the skills we already have. We’ve recognised that interviews are now more streamlined and new starters are not only settling in quicker, but they’re empowered to work autonomously and flexibly – and, as a result, are hitting the ground running from day one.”

Not that going digital is necessarily an easy option (see Kirsty’s top tips).

“There is more planning involved when you’re adapting to doing everything online. But once you’ve agreed mini KPIs with the employee and all the team come together to ensure the new starter is happy and motivated, it really does enhance the entire onboarding experience.”

Kirsty, who recently launched the SG Academy to train talented graduates in business and technology leadership, adds that digital communications technologies also have a role to play in identifying individuals working in other industries who might be looking to retrain and take up a career in technology

“There are so many wonderfully talented people who aren’t sure how to transfer their skills. By using technology and speaking to them directly, both parties get a feel for how they can add value, enhance the company culture and kickstart their ambitions.”

Virtual onboarding Top Tips

1. Recruit well.
When hiring, it’s critical that you balance a candidate’s experience with their values, behaviours and cultural fit. Be open and honest from the first interview about how onboarding operates and secure ‘buy in’ from day one. People who can make a difference to the business – and who are eager to do so – are more likely to work on their own initiative, have a positive attitude and operate autonomously.

2. Plan ahead
It can seem a daunting process, but make sure you map out the first few weeks – and share this with the wider team throughout. Create a standard onboarding agenda, which covers all compulsory training and is personalised to include role-specific aspects. As remote working continues, try setting up a virtual ‘tea break’ with the wider team so they can introduce themselves. This can almost be the new office tour.

3. Get your IT infrastructure in place
As soon as you have confirmed a start date, begin liaising with IT. Factor in that it will be a slightly longer process to get a new starter up and running because the equipment will need to be configured and shipped to their home address ahead of their first day. It’s important to ensure that the new recruit has strong Wi-Fi capabilities and they’re furnished with everything they need to make an impact from the moment they log on.

4. Set up meets and greets
If you’re part of the hiring process, don’t monopolise future catch-ups. Invite the whole team to set up meetings of their own so they can get to know the recruit and provide them with information on their specialist subject. Encourage the new addition to the team to do the same, especially now that office-based ‘watercooler’ moments are on pause. Without this step, your new employee could reach the end of probation having only interacted with their own team – and not the wider business.

5. Keep in touch
Set regular reviews and KPIs so your recruit can immediately add value. Insist that they keep communicating, even if it’s a simple instant message to ‘check in’. Remember to add new recruits to all company-wide initiatives, from social events to more work-specific meetings. These little things can really help someone settle in and hit the ground running.

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2020