Writing job descriptions for remote hiring
HR teams will need to write remote-friendly, job descriptions to handle the shift to telecommuting during COVID-19. 

Remote work is having a moment, and even as COVID-19 stay-at-home orders are lifted, regular WFH shows no sign of slowing down. For starters, companies have invested time and money in the tools and infrastructure to support employees remotely. And some employees have found that their new WFH status has improved their quality of life and given them time back from an otherwise lengthy commute. All of this is to say, remote work will be a new normal for many years to come.

As hiring teams adapt to a global work from home culture that is likely here to stay, they’ll need to reassess each part of their hiring and recruitment strategy with an eye for remote-friendliness. Finding the perfect fit for open roles in the time of a pandemic may feel daunting, but recruiters and hiring managers will find that it’s not impossible with some slight, thoughtful shifts in their hiring and interviewing processes. One area of hiring in particular that should be reexamined is how job descriptions are written.

In order to attract top talent remotely, recruiters will need to take a fine-tooth comb to how jobs are advertised. The first step? Writing job descriptions to be remote-friendly and inclusive. In order to set expectations and find the best-fit candidate, job descriptions need to be constructed very differently for fully remote roles, as well as for roles that are remote due to coronavirus. Without the proper information included in the job description, companies may miss out on talented individuals due to a perceived lack of clarity or flexibility. Here are some things an HR team must consider when writing job descriptions for remote roles during COVID-19:

Include the proper remote working keywords

The job description should clue an applicant in to what type of work the role includes. One way companies can do this is to be sure they’re clear that the role is remote. Try to use keywords throughout the job description that explicitly tell applicants that the role is remote-friendly. Here are some specific words to include:

  • Telecommuting
  • Remote-friendly
  • Remote role
  • Remote job
  • Virtual job
  • Home-based office
  • Work from home

Use the job description to set expectations about flexibility level

The job description is the first insight an applicant has into the role and its responsibilities. Aside from using the job description to set expectations about the scope of work, it’s also important to set expectations about the level of flexibility an applicant can expect if hired. This is especially true during a global pandemic that has made office-based work increasingly uncertain.

In the writing process, be sure the job description provides answers to these applicant questions:

  • How flexible is the job schedule? Is it part-time? Full-time? Flex hours?
  • How much of the job can be done remotely? 25%? 75%? 90% with a few visits to the office each year?
  • Is travel required?
  • Are there in-office events the employee will be expected to be there for?
  • Is the role only remote due to COVID-19? Will the employee be expected to come into an office on a regular basis once the virus is no longer a concern? If so, when does the company expect to reopen?
  • Is the role remote outside of COVID-19? In other words, once the pandemic is no longer a concern, will the employee be expected to work remotely?

Consider linking to a formal remote work policy

Many companies do not currently have a formal remote work policy, but a global pandemic has taught everyone that it’s worth creating one. Consider building a policy -- even if it’s just a short paragraph or two. In it, discuss company expectations for telecommuting employees as well as remote-specific processes. We recommend adding this policy as a section of the company’s careers and/or benefits page. Be sure to link to it in any remote job descriptions.

Be clear about what equipment will and won’t be provided

Applicants need to understand what equipment and software will be provided to whomever steps into the role, as well as the equipment they must provide themselves. If the company expects to send a computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, headset, software, etc. to the remote employee during onboarding, make that clear. Some companies also subsidize or provide wifi connection, while others require a remote employee to provide their own stable wifi connection (sometimes with Mbps minimums). Make sure all of this information is clear from the job description alone, so that applicants can better assess their fit for remote work with the company.  

Don’t forget about diversity

Diversity and inclusion are still important and relevant during the hiring process -- even if the office no longer is. While an HR team is busy crafting new job descriptions as part of a shift towards remote hiring, they shouldn’t forget about the basics. Remember that job descriptions are like a first digital handshake with potential applicants. As such, it’s still important to run remote-friendly job descriptions through the same diversity and inclusion litmus tests.

When attracting talent remotely, showing a commitment to diversity and inclusion is more important than ever. Because there may not currently be an office culture that demonstrates a diverse and inclusive environment, remote employees will be gauging the level of inclusivity at a company by the job description and video interviews alone. Be sure that job descriptions put the company in the best light by avoiding gendered language, setting reasonable qualification requirements and including a Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

Remote working, and thus, remote hiring isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As companies begin to shift towards empowering employees to stay safe through remote work while attracting top talent in remote-friendly ways, they will need to work hard to examine their hiring process. We think a great place to start is by rethinking how to write job descriptions for remote roles. And, for other great information about leveraging technology in the shift to remote hiring, check out our recent blog.


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