Highlight Flexible Work Options to Attract Candidates

By Roy Maurer Jun 15, 2016
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Recruiters should take advantage of the flexible work opportunities at their organizations and use them as part of their recruitment strategy, urged experts at a recent flexible work conference.

“A lot of companies have flexible work options, but they don’t necessarily say that in their job postings,” said Kristin Thomas, director of employer engagement for FlexJobs, a Boulder, Colo.-based job board for flexible work roles. “We know large companies that have large pockets of remote workers that aren’t quite ready to admit it publicly that they are a flexible employer. Sometimes that language is buried in the careers page where job seekers can’t find it,” she told attendees at the Telecommuting, Remote and Distributed Works Forum held by FlexJobs in Washington, D.C.

Appirio is an Indianapolis-based global services company that helps customers create next-generation worker and customer experiences using cloud technology. The recruiting and marketing teams at the company took the lead on incorporating the message of flexible work offerings in the company’s branding, said Julie Barker, Appirio’s senior director of talent.

“Things known internally aren’t always known externally in the market, so being clearer in external branding and making sure our careers site matches our message in regards to remote work opportunities was important to us,” she said.

Barker said Appirio uses lots of video to showcase flexible work. “We have videos showing our team members working from their home, working from the coffee shop, working from the beach. The branding tells that story and we make sure it’s a part of all of our messaging, all the way through the hiring process,” she said. To that end, Appirio conducts interviews in Google Hangouts to match the remote-work culture at the company and set expectations for the candidate. 

Employees at Round Rock, Texas-based computer company Dell are encouraged to get social-media-certified through an internal program to become global brand advocates.

“This is a leap of faith for some companies, but at Dell we’re pretty comfortable taking calculated risks with our employees and their communication and ability to advocate for the organization,” said Jennifer Newbill, Dell’s senior manager of global candidate attraction, engagement and experience. “We have them take a picture of themselves working from home, playing with their dog or playing with their kids,” to be posted on the company’s Instagram account, she said. “It has proven to be very effective.”

Dell has designated around 1,200 social media champions globally who dedicate time to spreading the message by attending events or being “super-active on Twitter.”

There’s also an employee blog, separate from the official company blog, to showcase employees’ stories. “We have the team members telling their story. Someone from the company looks at it and helps with sharing, but really it’s our employees out there,” Newbill said. Dell’s employees are incentivized to take the time to write for the blog.

A recent example of a successful branding effort featured two employees in the U.K. who had just returned to the office from maternity leave. They proposed a job-sharing plan to their boss, who agreed with it.

“We wrote up a blog post, and included a pic of the ladies with their newborns,” Newbill said. “We curated that story, and posted it all over social media and got a great response. Those are the kinds of stories we like to search out and share.”

Clarify Flexible Work in Job Postings

Flexible work options should be prominent in job postings, experts at the FlexJobs forum agreed. It’s OK to state that the specifics will be discussed during the interview stage.

“We post our jobs with ‘remote’ in the job title to be as clear as possible,” Barker said.

“Many companies are still limited by the [applicant tracking] systems that they use,” said Thomas. “Work from anywhere” or “remote” is not a drop-down option in all systems.

“It can be confusing for a potential candidate when many different terms are used to describe similar programs, so be consistent and intentional with the words you use,” Thomas urged. Newbill said that her team tries be mindful about the search engine optimization of particular search terms in Dell’s job postings. “Employers should open their job postings up to more about the culture of the organization and explain what flexible work means in that culture,” she said. “We need to train our recruiters to be very clear and use words that resonate with candidates.”

 Keywords that applicants may look for when searching for flexible work options include: “virtual,” “telecommuting,” “work from home,” “remote,” “distributed team,” “flexible scheduling,” “freelance,” “contract” and “alternative scheduling.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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