Remote Recruiting: Growing Teams

Whether it's your first job or you're a seasoned recruit, the process of changing jobs can be daunting, especially in today's virtual world. Kyle Schruder RGD, Director of Design at Coactuate, shares his experience hiring virtually in the era of COVID-19. 


Tell us about the positions you have needed to fill since the pandemic began?
For the design team at Coactuate, I’ve had to hire one design intern and two full-time designers, one of whom just started! Outside the design team, our company overall has done further hiring of full-time employees and interns. It has been interesting to be in a growing company during the pandemic; you get to “meet” and collaborate with many new co-workers you don’t actually see in person. 
What advice would you give to creative professionals going through a remote job application process?
When you’re applying to jobs online, it can be tempting to blast out applications as quickly as possible, using the same cover letter and portfolio. Hiring managers can tell when something is bespoke. When we feel like we’re one of 100 resumes you sent out, it hurts your chances of getting a call. 
Make your application thoughtful and tailored to the job you’re applying for. You’re probably competing with many other applicants. A cover letter that shows me how well an applicant understands the company and the role gets their resume moved up the pile.
If you get past the screening process, prepare for your interviews by doing further research on the company and the role. This will help the interviewer understand that you’re interested in the position and the company and dramatically increase your chances of advancing in the process.
Can you share any advice for onboarding new team members while working remotely? How do you provide a sense of the work culture and make sure it is a smooth transition for the team? 
It’s essential to set aside time for the existing team to reach out to the new team member. In person, it’s easy for someone new to start casual conversations here and there. Working remotely, you’re often sitting alone at your desk until you have a meeting or a scheduled chat. The everyday interactions aren’t as easy to come by in a virtual environment and new people can often feel like they’re imposing if they do reach out.
Before the pandemic, we used to do a company-wide welcome to the new hire for their first morning. We’d have some snacks; everyone would introduce themselves; we’d chat. We tried to recreate this virtually, but something about being on a Zoom call with a large group seems much more awkward than a casual breakfast in person with the same group was. 
So, we’ve changed that. Instead of the entire company introducing ourselves on a single Zoom call, we schedule smaller breakout groups to chat with the new hire throughout their first week. It allows us to share more of the nuances of our work and personalities while at the same time learning more about the person who is onboarding.
In general, how has the shift to working from home impacted your perspective on work / and the work of your team? 
Working from home has reinforced to me that to be a good manager, you need to trust your team. The days of a manager being able to see what their team is up to all day are over. If you’re a micromanager, you’re going to struggle with not having that control. 
Working remotely means that your team needs to be aligned on goals, what their next steps are and how to prioritize. If you can get everyone on the same page, you’re much more likely to be able to trust them to get the work done.
What have you learned from the experience of hiring and onboarding new hires during this time? 
I’m pleasantly surprised with how effectively we as a company have handled recruiting, hiring and onboarding new hires in an entirely virtual environment. Remote hiring isn’t something I ever considered doing before the pandemic. I was entrenched in traditional ways of doing this. It has been interesting collaborating with new teammates over the past year, doing great work while never having met them in person!
Kyle Schruder RGD leads the design practice at Coactuate, a strategic consultancy focused on supporting healthcare leaders to navigate complex change. He has over a decade of editorial design experience and has made the transition from agency work to leading design in-house at strategic consultancies.