Showcase your ability to work remotely
The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered the way we work, working remotely for a few days a week has become very commonplace. The declining use of office environments – a trend that was picking up steam even before the pandemic – has become the norm for the majority of the working population for whom remote and hybrid working is now a reality.
Instead of a gradual shift to this new style of working, it has become a seismic one. For recruiters and HR departments this has meant a fundamental change in how the whole process works, placing extra pressure, but also extra opportunities, on both applicant and interviewer. So how can you best position yourself as a graduate hire who can survive and thrive in the remote working world?
More and more companies are making remote working regular, if not permanent, for part or all of their workforce. Hybrid working allows for the benefits of both. According to US research, 73% of those who worked remotely during the pandemic have returned to their office at least one day per week. In the same piece of research, from VelocityGlobal, 83% of employers say the shift to remote working has been successful for their organisations.
What concerns employers about remote workers
But working remotely comes with some challenges. For one, remote workers operate without direct oversight from supervisors and managers or in-person interaction with co-workers. Employers are also aware that there can be a lot of distractions when working from home or elsewhere. Yet, in a survey published in May, research and advisory services firm Valoir found an average reduction in productivity among remote workers of only 1%.
Other concerns focus on soft skills in a remote environment. For example, without in-person supervision, can a graduate employee be counted on to self-motivate, manage their time efficiently in order to meet deadlines and communicate and interact well with team members and co-workers?
In a survey of the remote working community, 20% of more than 3,500 remote workers polled around the world said their biggest struggle was communication and collaboration with others. An equal proportion struggled most with loneliness. Another 12% said distractions were their top issue, and 7% said staying motivated was their greatest challenge.
How to showcase your skills for remote working as a graduate recruit
Today’s employers want to be assured that new remote hires can be counted on to be motivated, productive, good communicators and collaborators. You can improve your chances of being hired by highlighting these soft skills.
Prepare for remote interviews and assessments
You’ll most likely be interviewed for your new job via a video call. Even though it’s not in-person, you should still look your best and dress appropriately. In addition, make sure the space that’s visible to your interviewer(s) is orderly, quiet and professional-looking.
This matters to employers, especially if your prospective job will involve talking to customers and suppliers. You may not be in work, but you need to appear to be ready to be at work, no matter where you are. If you are doing a virtual assessment centre, or indeed a virtual internship, remember that you are being assessed on how you work with others, rather than just showcasing your own skills and attributes, this can be hard so remember to listen and don’t try and fill any dead air in a conversation all the time. Try and read the room, despite the challenges of doing it remotely.
Show off your remote technology skills
A video interview is a great time to promote your remote-working technical and communication skills. Familiarise yourself with the features of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and other platforms before the actual appointment so that your call will go more smoothly. For example, you may be asked to share your screen and present documents with the interviewer or view and speak to several interviewers at once via a grid view of participants.
Make sure you have practiced this beforehand. Before and after the interview, when communicating with recruiters or hiring managers, make sure your emails and text messages are clear and your grammar is very good. This is more important now than ever.
Emphasise how focused you are and can be trusted to deliver
Remote working means no in-person supervision, amounts to quite an amount of trust on the part of an employer, particularly at graduate level. Trust, both ways, is vital .if remote working is to be a success. Tell your interviewers about how you motivate yourself to start new projects. Are you good at creating and staying aligned with a schedule and deadline reminders?
Be prepared to talk about how you prioritise when working on multiple projects and deadlines. Cite examples of these work habits and soft skills that you learned and utilised at any internships or previous positions. Because distractions are a top concern for remote workers, talk about how you can easily limit interruptions in your home or shared workspace.
Demonstrate your remote collaborative skills
Since you’ll be a remote worker in your new job, you won’t be interacting with colleagues and managers on-site. Still, your prospective employer will want to hear your tactics for reaching out to and collaborating with team members for assistance. Talk about how you used technology as part of university projects or other work – eg chat, instant messaging, Slack, Skype, Google Docs, etc – to collaborate, clarify issues or confer with others. If you can emphasise how, you work effectively, no matter what the location, and have examples, it will add considerably to your applications.