Changing job – can you ‘onboard’ from home?

Accepting a new job, resigning from the old one, and preparing for the first day in the new role, is a pretty stressful time. But what about candidates starting a new job in the midst of a pandemic? Recruitment expert James Blackwood, offers advice

Candidates with pending employment start dates are more vulnerable than ever. Anxiety can set in as companies deliberate over delaying or, in some instances, actually rescinding newly signed employment contracts.

First impressions do really matter, and at this current time, they are critical. Everyone is under pressure to manage their businesses as best they can, but time spent communicating with new hires and managing their expectations will create a positive, lasting impression, and likely to gain greater investment from in your newly onboarded hire.

One example of excellent employer communication with a new hire came from a successfully placed candidate with a heartening account of his experience.

His new hiring manager, a board member, conducted bi-weekly calls with him during his three month notice period, increasing to weekly in the run-up to his start date.

The candidate was given assurance that his new role is still critical to the organisation, that the start date remains, and that he could onboard efficiently from home. Items he needed to work from home, including a laptop and mobile, were couriered to his home, and an IT Support setup call followed.

The candidate said that this service was above and beyond what he would normally expect, and, more importantly, that he felt fully invested in and would be even more committed and conscientious.

It is not uncommon for recruiters to manage candidates through counter offers and changes of heart, but now we are also managing their anxiety and adaptability

Whilst this is an excellent example of communication and onboarding, there are companies that are being far less effective, leaving recruiters and head-hunters to maintain contact with candidates in the weeks leading up to their new start.

There is nothing wrong in this, as it’s a crucial component of the recruiter’s service, but involvement from the new employer’s hiring manager is hugely beneficial, and an opportunity to make a lasting first impression on the candidate.

It is not uncommon for recruiters to manage candidates through counter offers and changes of heart, but now we are also managing their anxiety and adaptability.

It is vital for hiring managers to also take responsibility for onboarding activities, and these useful tips will help them to provide an exceptional candidate experience in the lead-up:

Communication: direct communication by the hiring manager with the candidate provides assurance, confidence and respect. This can work well alongside the regular contact from the recruiter.

Manage expectations and be transparent: proactively involve the candidate in the company’s journey throughout this unprecedented time. Make the candidate feel involved, that they are contributing and that their thoughts and ideas matter.

Facilitate remote working in time: provide the candidate with all the tools and equipment they need for the new job as early as possible, to make them will feel invested in and valued

Tone: remain decisive, but also reassuring and empathetic to personal circumstances and anxieties.

James Blackwood is a consultant in the Security and Defence team of the Manufacturing & Engineering Practice at the executive search firm Berwick Partners