It’s no secret that the global shutdown in March 2020 forever changed the way we work.

For most, the first phase of this so-called distance economy meant physically distancing ourselves from people we’d previously worked with side-by-side. But as the pandemic continued, many workers made a permanent shift, and jobs that were location-agnostic from the start became widely accepted.

Since then, we’ve gone from working in close quarters with co-workers to collaborating online from different corners of the world. Yet while productivity has soared, erasing the misconception that remote work is inefficient, both social connections and company culture have suffered.

People are responding to the perceived void of human relationships by prioritizing the very thing they’ve been missing — genuine connection.

How can talent leaders foster genuine connections when everything feels so…distant? It starts by understanding how to build the candidate relationship, and how it ultimately drives the entire candidate experience.

Improve Communication

Despite its many benefits, remote work also created a disconnect that left people craving more human interaction — even if that interaction happens virtually. That’s why when job seeking, candidates are eager to see how they might fit into a new remote environment in a meaningful way. 

During the hiring process, modern candidates look for collaborative exchanges — where they play a role in the conversation as much as recruiters and interviewers do. How can you enable this?

Begin Important Conversations Early

39% of candidates say they want candid conversations on job compensation from the start. Begin critical, decision-making discussions — things like compensation, work schedule, and specific expectations — early in the hiring funnel, not the end. Then, weave the same transparency into your company culture.

Don’t Underestimate Responsiveness

In a 2020 study, 63% of candidates report that most recruiters do not effectively communicate. In remote hiring, it’s more important than ever to keep the lines of communication open. Especially when the talent market is moving at the speed it is now. Candidates want clear and frequent interaction — so check in regularly, give them the information they need, and take the time to make them feel valued. 

Leverage Digital Tools

The only way to keep up with candidate expectations and remain competitive in this job market is by leveraging hiring automation. With an automated hiring solution, candidates can schedule interviews on their time, eliminating the back-and-forth communication that slows down the hiring process. And with the best candidate experience technology in place, recruiters can focus on building genuine relationships with candidates, one of the most rewarding parts of their work. 

Advocate Well-being

Yes, remote productivity is high; but it comes with a price. 

Working from home took a major toll on health, with 40% of people saying it negatively affected work-life balance. People everywhere are experiencing burnout. As candidates begin to put their well-being first, they’re looking for employers who will encourage mental, physical, and emotional health. Beyond great communication, candidates want to see employers demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being.

Now is the time to show candidates that you have concrete policies to support them as their home and work lives collide. Make wellness a pivotal part of your hiring process and show candidates that you’re dedicated to helping them thrive, both in work and in life.

Offer Flexibility

For many, the distance economy provided the unique ability to balance work and personal life — if done right. Now that candidates know what’s possible, they expect future employers to continue to be agile. Whether it’s full company shutdowns to recharge, no meeting days, flex time, walking meetings, or coaching and mental health resources — candidates and employees are looking for support from their employers.

With 70% of people saying they want flexible work opportunities, offering a remote or hybrid interview process is the first step to proving that you care. Then, model that flexibility in your workplace.

Invest in Growth

During the height of the pandemic, offering security was the main goal. Now that we’ve moved past many of those fears, candidates are prioritizing their future. They want to find meaning in their work — and regular growth and development are part of that equation.

Create a learning culture, where growth opportunities are always present. And show candidates that you support their needs by outlining opportunities your company provides.

Share Company Culture

The isolation of the pandemic drove many to rethink what they value in company culture — and trendy perks are no longer it. Now, they want to be part of a place that gives them a fulfilling experience.

Demonstrate Transparency

With the isolation of remote work, 37% of people say they have a harder time trusting leaders. As people are meeting less in person and more online, lack of visibility is a big concern.

Candidates want to know that you’ll hear their needs — yes, even from afar — and that you are committed to creating transparent relationships between leaders and employees. Show them what you’ll do to create those relationships from the beginning, and how you ensure remote employees are visible for opportunities.

Give Them Space to Share Their Authentic Selves

People want to be a part of a company that reflects the things that matter to them. For talent leaders, giving candidates the space to share who they are and what’s important to them is critical. Then, create discussions around your company culture and your unique mission and values. 

Expand DEI Efforts

Three in four people say DEI continues to be a top priority — a topic that undoubtedly should be part of your candidate messaging. Many candidates will not consider a company that does not have a clear commitment to DEI. 

A commitment to DEI starts on your website, then continues through the interview stage and beyond. Ensure diversity in interview panels so your candidates feel like they belong from the start by using interviewer selection tools.

The Candidate Relationship Is the Way Forward

As the future of work is forever changed, and the distance economy becomes routine, one thing holds true — hiring leaders that prioritize the candidate relationship will have better hiring outcomes. It’s that simple, and there’s no way around it.

The best way to stand out from the talent competition? Create a standout candidate relationship by being transparent, and maintaining an authentic, empathetic hiring process.

About the Author

Rachel Heller

Rachel is passionate about creating and distributing powerful, engaging, and expert-vetted content. As the former Content Specialist at GoodTime, she covered the latest trends, insights, and expert recommendations for all things talent acquisition and recruiting.