Six months ago, I was reviewing my packing list for my first cruise. My girlfriends and I were taking a five-day cruise to celebrate twenty years of friendship. Before we left, we texted about the cruise ship struck with COVID-19, and we were relieved the virus had not spread to our destinations – Miami, Key West, Cozumel. The day before I left on the cruise, my firm’s leadership team met to discuss tracking international travel to “hot spots” to determine if anyone needed quarantine upon return, but we had not planned for a total shutdown at that point. A few days after I returned from the cruise, the CDC announced all cruise passengers should quarantine themselves, thus beginning my work-from-home adventure.
About a month into the COVID shutdown, Modern Hire’s Director of Talent Acquisition, Jenny Klebba, found me on LinkedIn and asked if I was open to talking about a “fun opportunity.” I was intrigued. Fun? In the middle of a pandemic? Sure, I’ll bite. What ensued was one of the most seamless and engaging recruiting processes I ever experienced – and it was entirely virtual.
Through my interview process, I had the great opportunity to engage with Modern Hire’s platform. At the time, I was working the longest days of my career on top of partnering with my husband as virtual teachers and daycare providers to our five-year-old and two-year-old; my calendar was packed. Modern Hire’s platform allowed me to quickly and easily lock in my interview schedule around my availability with a broad group of interviewers. With the on-demand interview feature, every person who interviewed me listened to my introduction video, so I never felt like I had to answer the same questions multiple times. This was my first experience in a virtual hiring world, but the process moved quickly, and I joined Modern Hire at the beginning of May.
Before my first day, my new colleagues already knew all about me through the Introduction Video feature our platform offers. They connected with me on LinkedIn, shared articles about how to onboard virtually, and told me how much they loved the purple highlights in my hair. IT made sure my home office set-up was perfect. The recruiting team delivered all the usual new hire swag to my front door. My leader, Dennis Deuberry, developed a thoughtful and comprehensive onboarding plan. I felt more welcomed at this new job, where I had never met anyone in person, than at any other role.
All the introductory meetings I would have had if we were in the office were now Zoom and Teams calls. Without a doubt, it was an adjustment, but I feel completely integrated. While Modern Hire’s leadership team led a large part of the integration, I also took some tasks into my own hands.
Given my role as the Vice President of Human Resources, I need people to trust me. People cannot trust me if they do not know me. Although I reiterated my Open-Door policy, I knew people would hesitate to reach out to someone they do not know, especially in a completely virtual environment. I also knew some of my coworkers were overwhelmed, trying to balance their professional and personal lives.
To foster relationships and make up for not being able to meet people in the office hallways, I scheduled 20 minutes with every employee in our company. It took a full month to get to everyone, but I now know something about each of our people – and they all know something about me. Each had the opportunity to tell me what they thought HR should prioritize. Some even got to meet my Zoom-bombing two-year-old (who is now, fortunately, back in daycare).
The pandemic is creating a tumultuous time for companies and people across the world. The companies who can most swiftly modify their hiring and onboarding processes to this virtual environment will be the most successful. Although many people are looking for new employment, hiring managers and Talent departments cannot afford to be complacent. We must innovate. We must find ways to deliver excellent recruiting and onboarding experience in this mostly virtual environment where people are often stretched thin between their professional and personal lives.
For people starting a new job during COVID, take ownership of your onboarding experience. Your new employer is trying to adapt to provide a top-notch experience while remote, but you must adjust as well. Maybe you do not need to Zoom every employee in your organization, but do not wait for your new colleagues to come to you. Walk into people’s virtual offices and say hello. Connections with our colleagues are crucial – now more than ever – we just must find a new way of making them.