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You’ve probably heard employees who work remotely are more productive. No wonder an increasing number of them are given the opportunity to work from home. Even if the advantages of remote work are debatable, you have this one perfect project. You’re tempted to work with a remote team. It’s techy, it requires people to focus on specific tasks, and their productivity can be easily measured. It’s time to recruit your first remote team and see if remote work is all it’s said to be.

One caveat. Hiring a remote team is a bit different from the kind of recruiting you’re used to. You’ll need to adapt your recruitment process to the demands of the worldwide web. You’ll need to find the best remote workers, vet them, and make sure they can deliver.

1. Find remote workers

One of the key advantages of hiring remote teams is that the whole recruitment process can be wrapped up in a couple of days. So, if you want to really capitalize on this, it’s best to steer clear of major job boards. Experts aren’t too keen on them (e.g., Are Job Boards Outdated?)

Too many replies, too little time. You want quality not quantity.

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1.1 Reach out to previous applicants

Great candidates are few and far between. But there’s always a chance you’ve still got some on file. Look them up. They’ve already been vetted by you, so reaching out to them would be the fastest way to secure talent.

No success? Time to ask around. Let’s be honest, referrals work best. Recruitment statistics confirm every HR professional’s intuition: employees who come from referrals stick around longer than candidates hired through major job boards. But here’s the catch. We won’t tell you to use those massive job boards. Here’s where you should look instead—

1.2 Use niche job boards to seek out talented remote workers

The number of niche job boards is staggering. Pretty much any industry has at least one dedicated website. Just check out this list of 100+ job boards by proven.com.

If you’re simply looking for general remote-work-oriented sites, you might want to give these a try:

  • Remote OK
  • Hubstaff Talent
  • Working Nomad
  • Skip the Drive
  • We Work Remotely
  • Go Remote
  • Remotive
  • FlexJobs
  • Upwork

But these don’t target specific industries. Here’s a selection of a few high-quality boards that should meet your expectations:

  • Stack Overflow (programmers and developers)
  • AngelList (startup jobs)
  • Behance (graphic design)
  • Idealist (nonprofit)
  • Inbound (marketing)
  • ProBlogger (writing)

1.3 Source your talent from LinkedIn

Now, let’s turn to social recruiting. If even the most niche job boards seem like something too general for you, let’s get back to the basics. LinkedIn is perfect for reaching out to passive candidates. There’s a lot you can do with the basic account, but if you’re serious about seeking out the best talent, you might want to switch over to a recruiter account. It will let you be more specific in your search.

However, even the basic setup will let you find great candidates.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re looking for a talented copywriter. You need them to write in English and Spanish. You’re fine with bringing on board someone with two years of experience. It’s all about their samples in the end, right?

Do a standard keyword search. In our example, the most appropriate keywords include:

copywriter or writer, remote, remotely

Chances are, the list you get is much too long. This is where advanced search comes in:

Languages: English, Spanish

Experience: 2-5 years

Another great advantage of using LinkedIn is access to specific groups. It won’t take a lot of time to pinpoint groups that would suit your needs. Again, use LinkedIn’s search function. You might even use Google to find the right hubs. Don’t focus on local groups. You’re looking for remote workers after all. International groups make perfect sense. Post your job offer there.

2. Attract the Right Remote Employees with the Right Ad

For a quick primer, read our Job Ad Dos and Don’ts.

Job ads targeting remote employees aren’t too different from any other job ads. But writing another generic job posting will sabotage your work. You want to make sure you get several solid candidates rather than hundreds of applicants who don’t really care what they do as long as they can do it from home.

Follow the best practices in recruitment. You will feel you’re going out on a limb, but it will be worth it.

  • Describe the company, work culture, and the team. This will assure your candidates your company isn’t another online get-rich-quick scheme.
  • List the application and tools your team uses. Your priority is to make transitioning as smooth as possible. If you make your requirements specific, you might just limit the number of applicants who simply carpet bomb all job ads with their resumes.
  • Include skill development plans and describe your recruitment process. Some people enjoy remote work because of its convenience. However, if you find the right candidates, you’ll want to hold on to them once the project is done.
  • Disclose the recruitment timeline. Remote candidates value transparency and specifics as much as you do.
  • Since you won’t spend much face-to-face time with your hires, you’ll want to make sure they can do what they say they can do. Ask your candidates to send over samples. Plan a trial they’ll have to complete to prove their worth and skills.
  • Be clear about how much and when you’ll pay them.

3. Select the Best Candidates for Your Remote Team

Remote work requires a bit more tech-savviness than your regular nine-to-five. Once your candidates complete the task to your satisfaction, you’ll know what performance to expect from them. Now it’s time for that interview. Prepare a semi-structured list of interview questions and answers you’d like to hear (or not!) For the interview, use your go-to video conference tool. Skype? Google Hangouts? Use whatever you use on a daily basis with your team. No need to switch over to your candidates preferred software.

Key Takeaways

Now you know how to reach out to candidates, attract them with an appropriate ad, and sieve out sub-par applicants.

Remember, time is of the essence. Both for you and the candidates. If you want to reel in the best of the best, you have to act fast.


  • Kristen says:

    Thank you for all the tips you provided. When hiring a remote worker to fill an opening, requires you to dig deeper. While it may require patience and effort, it is for sure worth it. I am working with remote teams all over the world. I’d say time difference is the biggest challenge.

  • Brian McDaniel says:

    It’s important in any program, especially agile programs, to have solid rapport across the team. Personal connection builds trust, minimizes missed expectations, eases self-organization, and boosts morale. I think the human connection is very important in distributed teams and that’s why I suggest you build periodical team buildings.

  • William Kamaka says:

    The first challenge is training the team to understand that, when decisions are made, they need to be communicated. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget!

  • Kristina Minyard says:

    I’ve been working from home all week because of the weather here and I have been way more productive than usual! I think its good for employers to assess the work that has to be done and really define what can be done from home and what can’t so they can really evaluate if they should be leveraging all the benefits of a remote team!

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