Recruitment insights

hiring remote

The How-tos of Remote Hiring

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2020 really opened up new avenues of working, living and hiring (esp. hiring remotely) for all of us.

The year has been a revelation for talent professionals in particular, as they had to suddenly transition from in-person hiring and onboarding processes to being suddenly remote. We have come to realize that a lot of processes that we came to adopt over the last year, work better and are far more cost-effective, remote hiring in particular.

A month into 2021, with vaccination drives picking up worldwide, it seems we will continue working and hiring remotely for a foreseeable future. So how do you do remote hiring effectively, to stay in the race for quality talent, when your candidates can’t experience your workplace and culture in person?

As a global talent technology company, we work with clients across the globe and help them build teams. These are a few things, we recommend to our client partners –

Be ready with your remote hiring plan

Most companies have hiring standard operating procedures (SOPs) with them. With remote hiring, however, you may have to tweak your existing SOPs to better fit the new processes. A few tips that can help you with this include:

  • Make sure you have your list of job boards you will be posting your job openings on. You will need this even for your in-person hiring but if you are hiring for a completely remote position, there are different job boards for that, so be sure to include them in your hiring plan.
  • Ensure the job description is clear and concise, stating all the requirements and expectations for the role. Be especially clear if the position you are hiring for is remote in some capacity or fully, if the person will be expected to work out of the office with the team or if it’s a hybrid arrangement. Make it a point to include all these details in the job descriptions along with the actual requirements of the role.  This will influence your candidate pool, if the position is fully remote, you can look at talent from other countries and need not be restricted by local talent.
  • Decide who in your team is going to own what part of the hiring process, the technology that will be used and test out the tech in advance and keep experimenting to find better options.

Be creative – rethink full-time positions, substitute with project-based remote hiring

As recovery looms and businesses start picking up activity and growing their operations again, manpower has become very important.

As a company, it is time to get creative and rethink the way you hire. Agility has proven to be the key to surviving business troubles over the past year. Agile teams tend to be built around project or business requirements and dismantled as soon as the objective is met. It would be useful to first plan out what key projects you would be working on in the short and long term and what kind of staff and skill set you would need for these projects. Then one should consider hiring staff on a project basis, this way the company can stay lean, keep their costs low, and if you are open to hiring in a remote capacity, you have access to global talent.

Create a thoughtful remote interviewing plan
While you are working on drafting a remote hiring and interviewing plan to ensure that it best allows you to evaluate the candidate, their potential and the culture fitment, it is important to keep in mind that the process is well-put and conducive even for candidates.

For instance, with multiple rounds of interviews being done remotely, it is important to document the questions asked to candidates and digital notes of the interview (questions asked, impressions on candidates, their responses, etc.) are shared with every interviewer who will be speaking with the candidate. This way, the candidate won’t have to answer repetitive questions, the interviewers can utilize that time to delve into other aspects of candidates’ profile and work experience. So this is a win-win situation for both – hiring managers and candidates, where the seamless candidate is also ensured. This level of thoughtfulness will definitely leave a good impression on the candidate about your organization.

Prioritize your candidate experience
Candidate experience has always been important, but more so now with the increase in remote hiring and interviewing, where the candidates cannot experience your workplace and culture in person. Small details matter – being sensitive to the candidates’ responsibilities (it is possible that video might malfunction, kids might barge in during interviews); maintaining good video etiquette (eye contact, test out your tech in advance).

During video interviews, ensure that you are focused on the candidate while speaking and don’t look spaced out. Make sure you have allotted time to answer any questions that candidates may have, and be sure to follow-up after the video interview on emails.

Fast turnaround time
A lot of people lost their jobs during the pandemic and they are looking to start working soon. As companies pick up their hiring processes again (to an almost pre-pandemic speed), it is vital to make your hiring processes more efficient. Streamline your processes to make sure you are not keeping candidates waiting for long, embrace digital screening to tackle high candidate volumes (we helped a leading video-on-demand service in India cut down their screening time by 75%, more here).

Keep the candidates engaged during the process with updates on their application, share materials about your company to help them understand your company and culture better.

Over the course of 2020, we have learnt that we can embrace new ways of working and hiring and they can be really beneficial for us. As we start getting back to business as usual in the new normal, remote hiring and remote working will be key to business success.


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talent in 2021

The Future of Talent Acquisition is Here: Top Trends for 2021

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COVID-19 marked a radical change in the way we lived, worked and hired talent for companies. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, ushering in what some are calling a ‘Fourth Industrial revolution.’

Globally, businesses hustled to quickly make their operations, people and process virtual and digital-friendly. After the initial slowdown, companies have now embraced the ‘new normal’ and on their way to scaling businesses again. However, they need the right workforce and talent to do that. As more roles become remote-friendly and following the shakeup we saw in 2020, the talent market has never been more competitive.

As the demand for talent picks up, it is essential to understand what trends will shape talent acquisition in 2021 so you can be ready to bring the best talent onto your team. We anticipate that trends like the digitization of hiring, a continuation of remote-friendly work environments, and a deepening commitment to diversity and inclusion will shape talent acquisition in 2021, fueled by the developments over the past year. Are you ready?

AI will pave the way for data-driven talent decisions

Hiring the right people in a timely and cost-effective manner is a challenge for every business. Companies will focus on a data-driven approach to hiring talent this year leveraging AI (artificial intelligence). AI is proven to be better at seeing patterns than people. This will be a game-changer as it will help companies make smarter hiring decisions and eliminate unconscious bias, which permeates the hiring processes.

Companies will start integrating AI-powered chatbots for the initial phases of applicant screening to better identify the top candidates before taking them to the next stages in the hiring cycle (scheduling multiple rounds of interviews, etc.).

The use of AI will also permeate the other phases of employee lifecycle like automation of employee verification, onboarding, etc. Since most companies do not have this technology built into their HR platforms already, it will be important to identify and work with a capable, trusted technology partner.

Diversity and inclusion will go beyond mere points on the checklist

2020 was a pivotal year for diversity, especially with conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement. A lot of organizations defined and put down policies on diversity and inclusion for the first time. They set diversity targets, to reflect their stance on diversity and inclusion, especially in their talent decisions.

For many companies, 2021 will be a year for accountability. Companies will move beyond checking off items on their diversity and inclusion checklist, to actually showing the outcomes of their efforts. Inclusion will become more than a word: for companies to retain amazing, diverse talent, it will be essential for those employees to feel heard and included at their workplace. It’s important to remember that when it comes to building diverse and inclusive teams, there’s no “perfect” playbook.

We expect to see many companies move beyond basic lip service to actually deepening their commitments to their diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Agile, cross-functional teams will rise, built and dismantled on a project basis

COVID-19 forced companies to evaluate and change the way we work – from siloed department based working to more agile, cross-functional, project-based teams. Companies will continue to re-work on their organizational structure to foster agility and collaboration. Agility and collaboration have proven crucial for ensuring business continuity and success, a lesson hard learnt from the pandemic.

A lot of companies have already started moving from permanent hires to staffing their teams with part-time resources, who work on predetermined projects for a set time-frame before moving on. We will continue to see a spike in the number of freelancers in the coming year.

This approach to leveraging talent will also change the way companies assess and hire talent. Candidates with potential and transferable skills, like adaptability and problem-solving will be prioritized over their pedigree and technical capacity to do specific tasks.

Remote hiring is here to stay

Over the last year, recruiters and HR managers learnt that it is possible to do end-to-end hiring and onboarding remotely. Especially with the cost and time savings possible when hiring goes virtual, remote hiring will pick up this year.

We expect the hiring process will be a combination of in-person and remote processes, depending on the positions being hired for. For instance, for entry-level positions, the complete hiring process may be remote, with the new hires making their first physical contact with the company on their day of joining (maybe not, in case of remote workers). For the senior, executive-level hires, the hiring process may constitute a mix of remote and in-person processes.

But, for companies to leverage remote hiring, they need to define, refine and keep improving their virtual hiring processes, finding the right technology that works for them and making sure there is enough human contact present in the remote hiring procedures.

Digital candidate experience will be prioritised

“Online video interviewing, digital assessment, and digital candidate experience strategies were ‘nice to have’ before the crisis. Now they’re business-critical.” Josh Bersin, world-renowned thought leader in HR, Leadership and HR technology space, could not have explained the importance of candidate experience better.
Candidate experience was always important, especially with a distinct shift towards remote working and hiring. It will become important for companies to provide an exceptional experience given that candidates will not be experiencing their offices and culture in person.

Every HR and hiring activity from attracting talent, to showcasing employer brand, to sourcing talent, to interviewing, will need to be built to provide a great digital experience for candidates in order to attract top talent.

The top employers will have a candidate communication plan, which will make all relevant information available to candidates about the company. Employers have to show — not tell — what their company is all about. Every small step matters – from sending email/text reminders to candidates a day before the interview to sharing employee pictures, videos and office pictures, so candidates can virtually experience or visit the workplace. This will help candidates get a taste of company culture and team without physically visiting offices.


At Shortlist, we are hopeful that 2021 will usher in growth and prosperity for you and your organizations. We hope these trends will give you some insight into what to expect this year and help you tailor your hiring strategy and processes. We are always here to help you as you think through your hiring, onboarding, and technology needs for 2021. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your plans with you and can offer advice on how to leverage these trends for a great year ahead!


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How to hire top engineering talent

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Over the years, as industries try to become more software-driven, the demand for engineers and developers has increased dramatically. Finding the right engineering talent is crucial for the growth of your company and its products. Even in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis, engineering has seen the best recovery in terms of jobs in the market though comparatively lower than last year. This field is showing great promise of recovery.

The key to business recovery from the pandemic is going to be innovation. Technology lies at the center of innovation. As Marissa Mayer, Co-Founder of Lumi Labs and former CEO of Yahoo, said, “In technology, it’s about the people. Getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment, and helping to find a way to innovate.”

The demand for engineers remains at an all-time high and expected to increase in months to come, with rapid digital transformation, brought on by COVID-19. Attracting the right talent can be a real challenge for companies, especially smaller companies. Engineers have a lot of options to choose from, and best engineers have the luxury of picking the projects and companies they will work for.

So how do companies appeal to top engineering candidates and stand out as a potential employer?

Based on our own experiences in hiring tech talent for our clients, we are sharing what the companies can do to attract best engineering talent, what engineers are looking for from a potential employer, and more.

Getting started

Every hiring process starts out with building a pipeline of candidates. To create a talent pipeline, it is essential to take stock of one’s branding and see that it positions you as a great place to work for the engineers.

For the tech giants of the world (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) this is easy, their employer brand is already a big draw for the candidates but for smaller organizations it is important to focus on this aspect and build it actively. We have some great tips for building out your employer brand here, check them out and start today.

Show them the problem they will be solving for

The key to attracting the best engineering talent is to show them what opportunities they will have, at your company, to solve significant technological problems alongside other exceptional engineers on your team.

Engineers are problem solvers by nature, and not merely experts defined by their fields (technologies they work with, etc.). If you give them a glimpse into the kind of problems they will be solving for, they can build a better understanding of your challenges and understand precisely how they will be making a difference for.

Focus on communicating your organisation’s story, history and challenges you tackle.

Go beyond competitive salaries

Paychecks matter, but engineers place a lot of stock in, ‘What problems will I be solving along with this company?’, What new will I get to learn here, what technology will I work with, who will be my mentor, etc.

So if you have to compete with huge tech giants of the world for the engineering talent, it would be useful to have clarity on what engaging problems engineers are expected to solve and what will they learn and from whom.

Have your CTO write about interesting problems you solve at your organisation, share what the team does, your work culture, etc. It will go a long way in showcasing your values, problem-solving style, etc. and give you an edge when competing with more prominent companies.

Assess with your real-world challenges

As recruiters, we see an increasing preference among both companies and engineers, that job application processes have assessments which simulate the actual real-world problems the engineers will be working on.

This approach is useful for both employers and applicants. It gives candidates a glimpse of what problems they will be solving for (if they are to work for that organization), gives employers a thorough way to assess the candidates’ abilities, skills and approach towards problem-solving, especially in the company’s context.

Overall, this approach is a win-win for everyone.

Don’t remain stuck on 100% fit, go for other great candidates

Most employers are looking for the ideal candidate who ticks of all the boxes in their list of requirements. It ends up restricting the candidate pool they can interview and hire.

Instead, be flexible and go for candidates who have, e.g. 80% of the skills required to do the job, you can train them to learn the 20% which they don’t know presently, and be the ideal candidate with 100% skills that you were looking for.

You end up saving time, that you would otherwise, end up spending searching for that elusive purple squirrel (candidate with 100% of skills that you are looking for).

Stay in touch during the whole process process

We can’t stress enough about the importance of continuous communication during the entire interview and hiring process.

The number of drop-offs in tech hiring is pretty high compared to other fields. So every update that you share with the candidate matters, especially if it is going to increase your interview time (say the hiring manager is out on leave and can’t do interviews sooner). The continuous stream of communication keeps your candidates engaged, your talent pipeline warm and reduces the drop-off rate.

Close the hire asap

Once you have found your perfect engineering candidate, move fast and close the hire speedily. Don’t draw out salary negotiations, be clear and upfront on this count from the beginning.
Be responsive and keep continuous communication with the candidate, remind the candidate of your company’s story, and why they should be excited to be a part of it.

Invest in employer branding to show your presence and build a community

Remember what we said about building a talent pipeline, it is crucial to cultivate and engage with one, even when you are not actively hiring.

Focus on building a long term relationship with the engineering community, which helps you stay relevant, and positions you as ‘an organization as a place where new ideas and solutions are created and fostered’, even though they are not actively interviewing with you.

  • Here are some tips for investing in employer branding:
    Get your engineering or tech team to blog on technical topics.
  • Showcase your engineering team prominently on your company platforms, encourage them to share their experiences of working at your company.
  • Organize or sponsor hackathons with engineering colleges or other technical institutions. It will help you identify great entry-level talent producing best ideas and also bolster your reputation as a leader in new technology invested in innovation and creativity.

The key to hiring world-class engineers is to share your story and help them see where they fit in it. You’re not just offering them a job; you’re selling them on the next chapter of their life.

Check out this video from our CTO and GMI two-time winner Sudheer Bandaru on hiring and scaling your tech team.


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sourcing digital

Sourcing Digital Talent: Finding Digital All-Stars in Unlikely Places

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With rapid digital transformation brought about this year by COVID-19, in months to come as businesses recover, the competition for hires with digital skills is going to become fiercer.

This competition is going to be tough not just for tech, but for all the sectors.

Many sectors like banking, financial services, insurance (particularly across SSA, etc) across emerging markets are undergoing rapid transformation. Companies from all these sectors have one thing in common – digital talent needs. They are rapidly hiring digital talent for software engineering, digital marketing, data analytics, etc. to drive their digital agendas.

They are competing for the same set of people and skills, given that all businesses are pursuing digital agendas of some sort ranging from added product offerings, operations, mobile apps, etc.

In some instances, the demand outranks the supply, which has led to a sourcing challenge. This is acute for fast-growing SMEs who do not have the budgets and infrastructure to engage in large scale recruitment drives, like MNCs. This requires a need for greater creativity.

So, where should these companies find digital talent? Are there any unlikely places that they are overlooking? We are here to share our own expertise with you on this.

Look beyond traditionally, digital sectors

We’re increasingly seeing great digital talent come from sectors beyond IT and the computer software giants you might think of first (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, etc.). A lot of these emerging sectors have not been digital historically, but are now going through digital transformations. For example, sectors like agriculture, energy, and distribution and logistics are not traditionally tech-forward sectors, but we have seen some great tech talent present there.

  • Let’s take the energy access sector, for example. Energy access is increasingly driven by data and finance, so we have found talent which excels at data analysis within energy access companies. Their solutions are driven by software, so they seek out and hire great engineers.
  • Agriculture is another sector where a range of companies are providing value-added services to farmers via technology, giving them access to information and data and driving greater market transparency. The digital transformations that are driving change in the agriculture sector are a great grooming environment for tech talent.

Look at locations beyond your own back-yard

Accelerated by COVID-19, digital talent has gone global. So instead of just thinking about what and who, you can find in your own backyard, think global.

Sourcing talent in your location or vicinity is the obvious first place most recruiters start, but the drawback is that you may end up missing out on places with great talent pools especially for digital skills.

Additionally, talent cost is a critical consideration for businesses especially SMEs and SMBs. By looking beyond your backyard (especially if you’re located in an expensive metro city), you can cut down costs and not compromise on talent quality.

There is great talent sitting at large, multinational tech companies no doubt, but hiring from them can prove more cost-prohibitive to most SMBs in the market. By looking at lesser-known talent pools, in less explored markets, your costs can go down significantly while ensuring the quality of candidates is not compromised.

Think of looking outside your city or even country to find high-quality, remote talent. We are increasingly working with large companies in East Africa who are looking for tech talent in India, to access a greater supply of talent at lower costs.

By looking beyond the obvious and closest places, you can better source talent from anywhere in the world.

Cultivate graduate talent pipelines

Cultivating graduate talent pipelines is a non-traditional way to think about sourcing digital talent, but building a strong bench of entry-level digital talent will help you build a sustainable, long-term pipeline of great digital talent. Play the long game.

Given the fierce competition for existing and emerging digital roles, companies should look at entry-level talent which can mature well in the role and technology.

Companies can build relationships with technical institutions known for honing a particular skill or technology, this way they have access to vetted talent, ensuring access to a cost-effective and renewable talent pipeline.

As digital transformation cannons forward and competition for talent grows more intense, companies have to explore unknown places to source talent. We hope these ideas give you some inspiration in your search for great talent.


At Shortlist, we’re experts in finding digital talent for companies that don’t have multinational budgets for tech talent, match our clients with talent that’s interested in rolling up their sleeves and contributing to high growth environments. Whether you need a new CTO or you’re building out a 50-person tech team, we have the experience and bench of talent to be able to help you grow your digital team. We are uniquely positioned to solve cross-border digital talent needs given our full-team presence across offices in East Africa and India. Beyond our physical presence, we can source talent globally from anywhere in the world and have worked across 25+ countries.

Hiring tech talent? Reach out to us today to see how we can help you.

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digital skills

Why should companies focus on digital skills more than ever in the post-pandemic world?

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So many companies are choosing to go remote to ensure business continuity and safety of their staff, digital skills have become vital for existing employees and new hires. It has become important for employers to upskill or re-skill their workforce so that they get the best of the digital transformation that’s taking place.
It has become important for employers to reflect on how to best equip their company, processes and their workforce for the post-pandemic world.

The digital transformation will require flexibility and acquiring additional skills for the employees if they want to grow and flourish in the new reality over the next 3-4 years.

For employees to continue working in their current job or to find a new job, to present oneself as the top talent, they need to focus on upskilling especially those skills which are going to be vital and in-demand in their chosen field.

Workplaces are definitely set to change in light of events of 2020 and with it, so will the skills that companies will need, with a pronounced focus on digital skills.

Based on our extensive conversations with employers across India and Kenya, here are some digital skills that employers should consider equipping their current workforce with and look for in prospective employees for ensuring success in the post COVID world.

Digital skills: What are they? Setting a baseline…

Digitization will heavily dominate the future of work. All companies will be digitally based to at least a certain extent if not a 100% thanks to COVID-19. Given that this new mode of operation is here to stay, digital skills will be gaining a lot of traction.

Whereas “digital skills” once meant knowing the latest coding languages or working in IT, now having a digital skillset is more inclusive. Companies are looking for employees who can succeed in digital environments, and for those who can communicate across platforms and technologies. People who can keep the digital business running and thriving despite any disruptions (calamities, pandemics, etc), will be highly sought after talent. We anticipate that having a digitally skilled talent pool is going to play a larger role in disaster preparedness planning for companies going forward.

Companies will also rely heavily on digital technologies and skills to improve the quality of the work environment and try and set up strong remote team culture aided by the right infrastructure to make work truly seamless and boundaryless.

Top Skills Employers Should Look Out For (Regardless of Role…)

(1) Tech-savvy

Businesses will be even more reliant on technology in the future, especially as certain organizations plan to have their employees working from home until the end of the year, or even into 2021 (and beyond). Over the course of the next few months and probably even for most of 2021, businesses will be even more reliant on technology, as organizations plan to have their employees work remotely. The best way to prepare for a post-pandemic world is to acquire technology skills.

COVID-19 has already fast-tracked digital transformation in organizations worldwide to become more resilient to future disruptions to business continuity. The 2020 pandemic has also set the stage for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data, Internet of Things (IoT), etc will serve to improve the resilience of the business. With the adoption of these technologies will come the demand for talent (from people working on the actual tech to people working in other departments like accounting, HR) to work with these advancements capably and effectively.

(2) Soft skills

Success in business and every day at the workplace hinges a lot on how well the team works together. And, turns out, working remotely is not the same as joining co-workers in the office. Though the best technology is available (from video conferencing and messaging through to project management) and it’s relatively easy to master, the way we work as teams has changed and will continue to change.

What’s required for success? Excellent, sound communication with new, requisite soft skills forms the bedrock. Apart from the domain-specific skills needed for the business to function, the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the need for soft skills like communication, flexibility, self-motivation, and time management to be able for the employees to work well in tandem with others when everyone is not in the same space. These skills are especially important when it is not possible to meet fellow co-workers and clients face-to-face. Soft skills will serve to differentiate the top talent and showcase the inherent ability to work well in a remote setup.

(3) Learning mindset

35% of the skills deemed essential today will change. The only way to remain relevant and competitive in future is to invest in skilling and upskilling your workforce. Not only do the skilled employees bring additional value to the table, contributing to the growth and development of your company, it also serves to have an effect on employee engagement and retention for an organization.

There is going to be a definite race to grab the business in the post-pandemic environment where digital expertise will give the company a definite edge. By making re-skilling and upskilling the top priority, companies can avert or reduce redundancies and lay-offs in the future and protect business interests. This will help companies create a leaner and more agile team that will be able to perform multiple functions.

Reskilling and upskilling has attained new importance, particularly for start-ups & SMEs in this new economy. They will take longer to recuperate from the present crisis, so their experiments with different formats of virtual learning will continue as they seek to upskill and reskill their employees to fill up the gaps that are brought on by innovations in technology.


The pandemic will be introducing some great new opportunities and to adopt and embrace new technologies and digital skills is going to be the key to surviving and thriving in the future. Companies should optimize existing opportunities through planned growth strategies, investments and digital transformations.

The world is definitely going to witness a need for a stronger workforce with advanced skillset. The companies that will proactively invest in digital transformation and skilling of its current and prospective employees to benefit from this window of opportunity will unlock the best opportunities from this period.
It has become abundantly clear that possessing and investing in digital skills is the need of the hour. An agile workforce with the right technical skills and digital knowledge is going to help companies to stay relevant as they navigate the new world of work.

Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.

Need help building a team with digital talent? We can help

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