How To Hire the Best Remote Workers: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Hire the Best Remote Workers: Step-by-Step Guide

When your company has a job opening or a skills gap, you want to fill it with the person who’s the best possible fit for the role. If you’re considering hiring remote workers, you no longer need to be limited by geography in finding the perfect candidate.

Working remotely has always been a top request for workers. As many as two-thirds of workers say they want to be fully remote, while another 31% want to be able to work remotely at least some of the time. Supporting this flexible work and becoming a remote-first organization could make your company attractive to a larger talent pool. It’s also an intelligent way to potentially improve job satisfaction.

So, if you want to make the most of an open position, it’s time to consider how you can support hiring remote workers, both full-time workers and independent talent. In this guide, we’ll discuss:

Common remote jobs to hire

Remote workers can perform nearly any job that doesn’t require a specific location. So, your web development and sales teams can be remote, but a store cashier can’t. When you think about it in this way, it opens up all kinds of possibilities for you to hire remote workers and save on costs associated with office space, equipment, parking, and more.

Some of the most common remote jobs include:

Each of these professionals can do their work remotely and use Internet systems to provide it.

Where to find remote workers

There are multiple ways to find remote workers for your project. We’ll look at five of the most common and note why you may or may not have success when using each.

Contact the remote worker via their website or blog

Many top-tier remote workers offer freelance services or work on short-term contracts so they can remain remote and keep control over their lives. These experts typically have a website or blog dedicated to their experience and highlighting past projects. Remote workers’ websites generally serve as a portfolio of past work and include the results they were able to achieve for clients, as well as a more traditional resume. Here you can see if a remote worker has experience in your industry or with companies like yours. Use the contact form or other contact methods provided on the website to reach out to these workers.

Hire through your network

Most business owners and managers have personal and professional networks that they can leverage to find the right remote workers. You can leverage the people whose knowledge and experience you trust, including people who you might have hired for a previous project or contract.

The main benefit of hiring remote workers through your network is that recommendations come from people you already trust. This makes it easier to believe in the results someone claims to provide and easier to verify work history, projects, and other elements on their resume.

The downside to this hiring method is that it limits your talent pool. You’re working within an existing network and not making the position open to everyone, which leaves out many candidates. There’s a chance you won’t find some of the best people for your needs. Another essential concern is that you may not have a diverse pool if your network isn’t diverse. Lacking diversity can introduce some long-term limitations to your organization.

Social media

One hiring funnel that’s growing in popularity is social media. You can directly reach out to talent and leaders in the areas you need and engage in a conversation before approaching them about a project. Social media also generally offers a place to see a large body of work shared over time, and people may also have posts that demonstrate their point of view, opinions, and thoughts on their industry.

Many professionals make public Facebook pages to showcase their company and skills, which can be  a great place for you to ask questions. Twitter and Pinterest are helpful options for design professionals,  because they make it easy to showcase and curate large bodies of work. Marketing professionals are also growing their brands on TikTok and Clubhouse, which may help your business tackle additional marketing channels.

Just remember, if you’re seeking out the best-known people on social media with a strong following, you’ll likely end up paying a premium for their experience and the exposure they can generate for your project.

Job boards

If you want to put your opening out there and make it available to as many remote workers as possible, consider job boards as part of your strategy. Job boards are the most passive option on this list, because you create the post and then let people find it. Some services like ZipRecruiter will post your job in multiple locations and send emails to potential candidates, but most of the work is on the potential candidate to read the post, decide to apply, and then take the steps you list to contact you and submit that application.

Some of the more popular online job boards are Monster, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Newer services like FlexJobs are explicitly designed to help you find remote workers.

To make the most of these platforms, you’ll want to create a job description and post it. Provide the most up to date details and information about your  company information, along with the right contact information.

One downside to note is that you can get many candidates from job boards, many of whom may not have the required experience or skill level. Consider creating and using a new email address for job postings to avoid missing resumes or other emails.

Use a platform like Upwork

For targeting talented independent remote workers, your best bet is often to go to a platform that links people with companies in need and helps manage much of the hiring and work process for you. Upwork is a work marketplace that connects independent talent and with businesses in need. You post your job and have the option to invite specific independent professionals  to apply to it, while all other talent on the platform can also see it and apply.

Hiring talent on Upwork helps standardize many of the processes so that it’s easier for you to judge talent, start a project, stay on budget, and complete it successfully. Some of the core benefits you’ll experience with Upwork include:

  • Independent talent have structured profiles making it easy to compare their experience.
  • Reviews and recommendations come from their clients directly, so there’s little need to question or try to verify past projects.
  • Projects can be started more quickly because of a shorter onboarding process.
  • Hiring protection so that you only pay for work actually completed.
  • Hiring is flexible and you can turn a one-off project into the start of a long-term relationship.
  • You have access to global talent, allowing you to meet geographic needs or avoid all geographic limitations to find the perfect fit.

How to hire a remote worker

When you’ve got your preferred hiring channels together, it’s time to get started hiring that remote worker. The process begins with a review of the talent and skills gap you’re trying to address. Start with a robust job description and move through the traditional steps of hiring a team member. Remote workers don’t change much about the hiring process, except that you’ll want to ensure you find reliable talent who you trust to manage their time and stay on task without having to be supervised.,

1. Create a job description

Job descriptions must be useful for the reader to understand the role, its requirements, and how it fits within your organization. You want to keep it direct but brief and entice your audience to apply.

There are seven things that every job description should have:

  • The right title
  • Employment type
  • Overview or summary
  • Responsibilities
  • Qualifications
  • Company culture
  • Your contact preferences

The description will be useful for candidates to learn more about you and the role by addressing each. Remember that you want to make a case for someone working with your company, not just performing tasks. Include elements of your company culture and why someone might enjoy being a part of your team.

You can get more help with each element, plus tips on how to write a successful job description for remote workers in our guide.

2. Review resumes and select the best

Once you’ve posted the job description and resumes start to roll in, you need to review them. How resumes are delivered will depend on your platform, but your main task is to quickly start looking at them and removing low-quality applications.

Sort the people who do meet your requirements and assess them in terms of skills and cultural fit. Look for traits that match both the role and your overall company. For remote workers, some of the qualities to look for in a new hire include:

  • Long-term potential for support and growth
  • Ability to produce results
  • Strong work ethic and ability to operate independently
  • A clear understanding of projects and necessary project management skills
  • A positive, proactive attitude
  • Baseline skills and a willingness to learn
  • Good common sense
  • Experience with similar roles and team structures
  • Values that match your company values
  • An interest in growing and potentially leading others

That list does not include the field or position’s specifics, such as code languages for developers or writing experience for copy editors.

3. Schedule a video call interview

Remote hiring will follow traditional next steps with just a few tweaks. Instead of an in-person interview, schedule a video interview with candidates you select. Email or message the candidates you want to interview and set up a time for a video call. If you’re using a platform like Zoom, be sure to provide the Zoom link ahead of time and create a meeting event the candidate can add to a digital calendar.

When you engage independent professionals through Upwork, use the platform’s built-in video call tools. First, schedule a meeting with independent talent through the messaging platform to set a time and date. Then you can simply go to the workroom messages and use a single button to initiate the video call.

4. Assess the worker’s capabilities

Once your call starts, you’ll want to interview the candidate like you normally would for the role. Ask them all the questions you would have for an in-house position and then ask about their abilities as a remote worker. You want to first be sure that each person has the necessary skills for the role and the experience to be a team player even if they’re not at your location.

Some of the top questions to ask for remote hires include:

  • How long have you been working remotely?
  • Have you worked on similar projects to mine as a remote worker?
  • What challenges do you have while working remotely? How do you overcome them?
  • What is your communication style?
  • How do you ask for help when you need it?
  • How do you hold yourself and your teammates accountable?
  • Tell me about a remote project where you experienced a communication issue. How did you handle it?
  • What do you need to be successful?

5. Discuss expectations about communication

Effective communication is essential for remote work because you can’t drop by the remote worker’s desk at any moment. You’ll need to be thoughtful about how you communicate and what requirements you have of the worker. If you’re operating across different time zones, this might involve remote workers checking in via messaging tools at the end of their workday for your team to read first thing in the morning.

Before hiring a remote worker, set clear communication expectations about when and how someone communicates. Discuss the technology and their availability. Get precise so that your team knows how to work with the remote hire.

6. Set expectations around management

Managing full-time remote workers will be similar to in-person staff in many ways. The expectations you have for these workers should first focus on their roles and responsibilities. You defined these in the hiring process earlier, and now you’ll need to discuss how you create benchmarks and requirements.

Remote-first organizations also need clear management practices and structures. Your remote workers still need onboarding and introduction to the company and their colleagues. Create documents and set meetings that introduce new hires to everyone, and walk them through reporting and management practices.

One best practice is to set regular meetings—at least monthly—to check in on your remote teams and give them a chance to ask questions.

7. Check references

As with any hire, consider asking for references to verify a candidate’s job history and work ethic. Professional references can attest to their skills as a worker and confirm roles and responsibilities within a specific company. Character references will give you a sense of who the worker is as a person, and these can help you understand their communication, leadership, and other working styles.

Character references have few limitations, but professional references should be someone who worked directly with the candidate, preferably in a managerial role. For independent talent, consider asking for past clients as references because they can discuss projects in greater detail.

References can help you verify what the candidate said or provide insight into past work. One of the best things to ask a professional reference is if they would rehire the candidate and why.

8. Create a contract

No hire is official without a formal work contract delineating the nature of the arrangement you’ve discussed. If you have employees already, you likely have a boilerplate set of documents you adapt for each new hire. Review these to ensure they meet the needs of remote workers.

Adjust your contract accordingly to ensure that it covers the scope of work, how work is to be delivered, project and management requirements of the employee, and how they will be compensated. If you’re hiring for a project, note all of the project costs or hourly rates and the start and end dates. Having everyone agree to these elements will protect your business.

Your contract should become more detailed for creative work and more advanced projects. You’ll want to discuss what the end project should look like, who owns and has the license to the final product, any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and confidentiality requirements, as well as indemnity clauses.

Remote contracts are another area where Upwork can help when engaging independent talent. The platform empowers you to easily reach terms with remote independent workers, covering details related to payment, hours, review of work, and other key elements. You can also provide required documents within the offer, so that you and the independent professional have easy access to things like the NDA.

9. Send an offer to hire letter

When you have the contract put together and a candidate you prefer, create an offer letter that explains the project, their compensation, and the contract. Tell the person why you liked them and want to hire them specifically, then send it over via email or direct message.

Typically, you’ll give the person a few days to decide or negotiate. Platforms like Upwork can minimize some negotiation by allowing the independent professional to make an opening bid, and you agree or counter when you make an offer.

While everyone wants their first choice, you won’t always get it. So, keep a shortlist of candidates for every project just in case your first choice rejects the offer.

10. Talk to compliance and payroll

When the candidate accepts, it’s time to celebrate! And then it’s time to get to all that new paperwork and administrative tasks. You’ll need to set up payroll for new full-time employees and manage payment details for independent talent.

Get your HR and compliance teams involved right away. Managing and hiring remote workers in other states or countries can have different tax implications and requirements. You’ll also want to ensure you meet legal statutes that govern work in your location as well as the remote worker’s location.

Compliance concerns are one reason many companies turn to platforms like Upwork. You’ll get help from experienced compliance and legal teams to ensure you classify independent professionals properly and can perform proper payroll. The Upwork Payroll solution can protect your operations and resolve issues with remote teams as well.

11. Onboard your new candidate

After everyone signs and you complete the HR paperwork, it’s time to onboard your remote worker. They’ll need an introduction to your company and its policies as well as the tools required for their job. Be sure to have a meeting with the entire team to allow everyone to meet, and then discuss how the new hire can interact with everyone.

Onboarding should cover required training for the position and your required tools. Focus on communications and project management services first, because these are essential to having an engaged remote worker. Their journey is just beginning, so set up a regular check-in meeting and empower your staff to perform their best.

Remote workers help today’s companies grow

Your company no longer needs to be limited to local talent. When you have a specific need, you can fill it with the best person for the role. Remote-first organizations are leading the way with service offerings and successes because they know that hiring a remote worker is often the best method for filling skills gaps and creating amazing products.

It can be difficult to effectively hire remote workers and we hope this guide provided a clear framework to help you get started. One of the best things you can do for your organization is to sign up on Upwork and use it to find independent remote workers, as it allows access to amazing talent as well as providing built-in protections for your company. Working with Upwork means you don’t need to become a remote work expert to get access to a world of talent.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.


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Author Spotlight

How To Hire the Best Remote Workers: Step-by-Step Guide
Geoffrey Whiting
Writer and Business Analyst

Geoffrey has worked as a writer and analyst for more than a decade, focusing on how businesses can improve talent, services, and operations. Thanks to platforms like Upwork, he's worked with some of the largest software, shipping, insurance, and internal audit firms in the world.

How To Hire the Best Remote Workers: Step-by-Step Guide
Writer and Business Analyst

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