Remote Work Advocate talked with Paul Arnesen, CEO/Founder of Talentroo that provides unique workforce solutions by using modern and innovative approaches to recruitment. Utilizing a multitude of recruitment and sourcing practices, screening methods, and verification solutions, the approach to a company’s need for remote employees, remote teams, and remote management staffing or global talent is custom-made to meet current and future goals.
RWA: What’s the situation on the job market? Are more companies really open to hiring remote workers? How has it changed within the past 2 years?
Paul: When it comes to the job market, it’s changing. What we are seeing today and what Talentroo is working towards is being the preferred company or recruitment agency for companies hiring remotely. What I see most of the time is that they are open to it. I see many more companies coming to me today to hire remotely than I did two years ago. You know because there has been a very definite change in the market, and it is due to the pandemic. And I think that the pandemic obviously has also changed people’s way of thinking about recruitment and where people are basically stationed around the world. Take a start-up, for example, or a young company that has a lot of investments or they don’t have investments but want to keep costs down. So, what it used to be actually pre-pandemic was “Ok, we definitely need an office. It has to be really cool it must have all these amenities.” Also, you need to find a location if you’re in the US. Somewhere hip or cool where people want to be in the city. We would hire people around us, or we we paid them to move to us because that was where we wanted to have them. But now you can keep the costs low as you don’t need an office anymore. You can find people anywhere. So, what I’m seeing is that especially tech companies, that typically need software developers, designers, and marketers, they prefer to hire remotely. This is the biggest change I’ve seen within the last two years. So, yes, I am convinced companies have opened up to hiring more remote workers.
One thing that is still evident is that companies that are more traditional are now open to hiring remotely, but they still keep people in the office. They offer hybrid solutions. I’m still not convinced they will continue doing this, but I think that it’s very dependent on where in the world you are opening up your business or running a business. Personally, I’m in Italy, so and I see companies here that are 100% going back to the office. They don’t really embrace the remote work or the remote-first mentality, even though it has been the case for 2 years.
Another issue are employee contracts. If you need to work remotely, it should be in the contract. How often you come to the office or whether you come to the office at all – this should be defined. Another change is that larger recruiting platforms such as LinkedIn are also making it easier for companies to set a position to be remote. As a candidate, you can set yourself up that you are open to working remotely. So, these changes have made it easier to hire remotely.
RWA: What does Talentroo do? What’s the competitive advantage against regular recruitment agencies?
We hire on a global scale and we recruit on a global scale. We are a global recruitment agency. Our competitive advantage is that we can find talent anywhere in the world. We are 100 % present in the remote world meaning that when companies are looking to hire someone to not come to the physical office, that’s our specialty. Bigger recruitment agencies don’t necessarily have that expertise in-house but we are making that our specialty. We don’t only do remote employment. We also do relocation and stuff like that, but we find them somewhere around the world. If a position needs to be relocated to another place we can also cater to that. We are global experts and have a global scope. That’s our competitive advantage. We are invested in the remote world. And we see the world as one big open marketplace for talent instead of looking at specific regions. That’s Talentroo’s biggest competitive advantage. And appropriately, this remote mindset will attract companies and candidates that have the same idea and mindset.
RWA: What do candidates ask for the most these days?
Well, seeing as we work mostly in the remote recruitment industry, we have a lot of candidates that typically ask about remote contracts. They ask about what kind of contracts they will have and where they have to pay taxes? If they live in one part of the world and work for a company in another part of the world, it’s difficult for them to understand how they get their payslip. So, taxes are obviously a big thing because everybody’s afraid of it. So, they have to make sure that they have their documents in order and that we send them the right papers. There are a lot of companies over the last two years that just jumped on the remote bandwagon. These companies say they are remote, but there are practically scamming people because it’s become trendy to be remote. The job is maybe 10 hours a week for nothing. There’s no contract or regulatory safety net. Nothing. We have a lot of questions about those types of situations.
To handle this, we’ve worked and employed global record companies such as Lano, that offers assistance in dealing with contracts in case companies don’t have a good setup for this. We try to educate the client because the client can also ask the same questions on how to deal with the contract. Another typical question that candidates ask about are working hours. For example: “When do I need to work? When do you want me to log on?” This is typical because they come from a traditional working environment. They have many questions about working hours, especially when you work on a global scale.
RWA: Is “work from anywhere” really happening, or are companies rather hiring remotely but in their own countries?
It’s really not happening to the extent I would like it to. One of the reasons are time zones. A lot of companies today, now I’m talking about companies that are more traditional, not new start-ups and new companies that embrace remote work, don’t really understand practically yet how to organize their team around different time zones.
So, if that company is in Europe and I find someone in Australia, they will say, “well, you know, maybe not because then they will be on like 10- to 12-hour time zone difference.” So, then we are back to okay technically. It’s not “work from anywhere.” Then we go into a discussion about how important is it for the employee to work in their time zone or can they offer project-based work. That way, they can basically just give them a project. They have a deadline, and it is synchronous or asynchronous working. So, I think that working from anywhere is still not really happening for most companies. And I think it has to be an effort that the company makes. It’s easy to say the work is work from anywhere, but you have to actually implement that as part of your strategy and in your HR planning. Some companies promote the job to be remote, but it says country-specific. So, you have to live in that country or in that region. It’s really not happening to the extent I want, but it is more than it used to be.
At Talentroo, for example, we log onto Slack, and people are working from different times zones. I also have a couple of people working in Thailand. And it’s very good in that in the morning, when I log on, they have already been in the chat, and I see the projects that we’re working on and that they have delivered the project. We have a quick catch-up, and then they log off.
RWA: How do you know that a candidate is a good fit for a remote position? Are there any particular qualities?
There’s no specific sort of skill or experience or anything you need to know for remote work. The most important thing is that they actually have a working camera, microphone, and an Internet connection. I’ve seen plenty of times when people come to an interview that is for a remote position, and I can’t hear them. I can’t see them. Or they can’t hear me because they have a very bad setup at home. So, they are actually technically not ready for working remotely. I always tell candidates or potential candidates that if you are going to apply for a remote position, it’s a very low investment to go buy what you need to set up for remote work. If you don’t have a good speaker and a microphone on your laptop, buy a headset. And test your system with a friend to make sure that you can hear each other clearly. If you don’t have a webcam on your laptop, buy a cheap webcam. Don’t use your phone because you don’t have it on your laptop. If something like this happens, I’d say you’re not fit for a remote position because you don’t have the right setup. That’s what the companies want. They don’t want to necessarily start by investing in your setup. They just want to hire you for the setup you already have.
So, if you don’t really have a good Internet connection but you want to go into a remote position, make sure that you have somewhere around you in close proximity to where you live. That way you can go to work, no problem. You can work from a coop space or even a coffee shop.
RWA: How should candidates get ready to start a job search these days?
You need to have a good CV. Even though I really don’t bother with too much detail in CVs. What I look for on a CV is a very simple thing. I look for what you have done in your previous jobs. I just want the bullet points.
To be prepared to do a job search today, you need to understand that there’s so much information online, and you need to do the research. Do the research on whether this is the company you really want to work for. Are your skills or background a really good fit for that job or not. I see too many times when candidates apply for jobs that they have no clue as to why they applied. I’ve seen medical jobs where candidates apply that have no medical background just because it’s remote.
Also, today if you are applying, you have to know we have a lot of candidates. You have to be patient. I just saw a LinkedIn survey that asked how long the recruitment process should be, 3 weeks, 6 weeks or 12 weeks. 71% said three weeks. As a recruiter, I can say that it happens very rarely that we can do a job within 3 weeks. So, from when that person applies, if they hire within three weeks that’s a very good thing. That rarely happens. The process from when a job is posted, from a client’s perspective, until the person is hired is usually around 4 to 6 weeks, sometimes longer because it’s difficult to find the right candidate. People need instant gratification in today’s world, considering UberEATS. They can go online and order food and get it delivered in half an hour. It’s not the same with a job. You can’t “deliver” a job for yourself tomorrow. You must manage your expectations, update your CV and understand what you’re actually applying for. That summarizes the three things that you should be aware of when you prepare for your job search today.
RWA: Where is the global market going when it comes to workplace flexibility?
There is now a movement going towards office space flexibility. Companies nowadays are creating basically Airbnbs for office spaces. For example IWG is the company behind Regus spaces which is very big in Europe. More and more companies have been moving out of their office spaces to work remotely. So, there’s a lot of empty office space on the market. This means a lot of open space that realtors can’t really sell off or rent out. And these companies are buying these empty offices complexes. So, they’re now going to turn them into short-term Airbnb-style office space. So, that would mean that more and more companies can offer flexibility wherever you live.
As an example, Talentroo has people from 10 different countries. I have a subscription to WeWork, where I’m living in Milan and there are four spaces. I have one person that lives in a small town in The Netherlands, but there’s no WeWork office there. So, there’s no way for me as a company to offer a subscription. But if there was something like an Airbnb or coworking space that has a small office space or something in her in the city, I could actually be open to renting it out. It would be great for me to give her that option. It’s an elegant additional benefit to working with me. I don’t say they have to use it, but I would like to offer that kind of flexibility for them to get out of their house. So, workplace flexibility is definitely something that I see is coming.
RWA: What’s your mission and your vision and that of Talentroo?
I would like to be a global leader and visionary in global talent recruitment. I would love to be able to connect people from the smallest rural villages with the biggest companies in the biggest cities in the world. Like I said, we have people from 10 different countries. We have people from Pakistan, Romania, and Brazil. It’s so good to give them the opportunity to work on and with companies that we work with. And give them the opportunity that they’ve never had before. And I want to be the force behind this. That’s also why I created Talentroo because I would like to be better at connecting people outside of their own home country, their home town that are without opportunities. So, we don’t really have a vision and mission statement. It’s not really stated anywhere but I have it written down on some of the documents we use with clients.
Our mission to society is the same as my idea that we want to be a partner for clients providing them access and supply to local talents. We want to be the company that gives other companies access to global talent, and in that sense, we will do that by having innovative ideas on how to reach those hidden sort of gemstones of talent everywhere. And at the same time be efficient and cost-effective. That’s what we are working towards. Our mission is to be the preferred recruitment agency for companies that are looking to hire from anywhere.
RWA: What trends are you noticing in the remote work market?
One of the things we’re seeing now is more and more companies that were traditionally doing outsourcing, are using big data centers. They have big hubs around the world in India or in South America or even in Europe like in Portugal. The traditional way to do this was that they move native speakers to that hub in that country. Now, they can do this remotely. Basically, these were typically customer support or representative tech support jobs. However, now they can actually work from home doing the exact same job, and this is changing the dynamic. A lot of these companies employ 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people. And, now, they have an open market all of a sudden. They can reach people that have disabilities that were never able to travel anywhere. They can employ people with families, as they now have more opportunities to work from home.