Advances in digital technologies have opened up new opportunities for remote workers, providing employees in nearly every industry with enhanced occupational flexibility and a means of
securing a sustainable work-life balance. This trend is quickly reshaping the modern workforce, as organizations around the world have begun looking to onboard talented candidates who might not fit the traditional mold. According to a 2018 study by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, an estimated 56.7 million U.S. workers engage in freelance activities, an increase of 3.7 million since 2013.
Despite the rising popularity of freelance-based work, many professionals still have an interest in full-time roles that offer long-term stability and predictable workloads. Writing positions, in particular, have seen a notable shift away from in-office employment models, which raises an important question: How do hiring managers select qualified remote writers?
Traits and qualifications
Remote work offers a range of benefits for employees and employers alike, but finding the right candidates can be challenging. For one, working remotely requires strong communication skills and the ability to self-govern. Efficient time management is essential, as the lack of direct supervision can prevent employers from identifying productivity issues that may impact their internal workflows. This is especially true for creative roles that involve strict deadlines and the ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. Since writers are expected to produce quality content at a consistent pace, it's crucial to assess job applicants' experience working in fast-paced, dynamic environments.
When it comes to onboarding remote workers, it can be helpful to consider existing hiring trends within the employment landscape. In 2019, SimplyHired released the results of its newest workforce survey, which compiled responses from over 500 staffing professionals who had significant experience hiring remote employees. The survey asked respondents to elaborate on their typical candidate assessment process and to identify behaviors that had the most positive and negative impact on their hiring decisions.
While most of the results fell in line with traditional in-office recruiting practices, there were a few subtle differences. For example, the survey found that hiring managers were neutral about several personal characteristics that some traditional employers may perceive negatively, such as being unemployed (65%) and having tattoos (65%) or unnatural hair colors (64%). These surface-level traits were considered less important than a candidate's education and remote work experience, which speaks to the elevated need for expertise when staffing out-of-office writing positions. Around 80% of respondents viewed graduate degrees as a positive, though postsecondary education was not an essential qualification.
Best practices for hiring remote workers
The recruitment process for hiring remote writers does not stray too far from conventional practices, as 91% of managers said they interviewed applicants in person or over the phone. However, close to 40% of respondents reported using video conferencing platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts when candidates were unable to attend a face-to-face meeting. Another notable difference was the type of questions asked during the interview sessions. SimplyHired's survey found that 63% of hiring managers always asked about applicants' previous experience working remotely to ensure they were adequately prepared. Other targeted questions included:
- What does working remotely look like for you?
- What's your home office like?
- Are you comfortable using time-tracking software?
- What kind of hours do you keep?
- How do you handle the lack of face-to-face contact while working remote?
Working outside an office gives writers a lot more freedom to set their own schedules and structures, but employers need to know whether a job applicant can be efficient in a self-managed environment. The best way to verify a remote writer's eligibility is to thoroughly check their references, ask relevant questions and ensure they understand the exact day-to-day challenges involved.