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Remote hiring: Cybersecurity best practices – TechRepublic


Subtle cybersecurity concerns are in play when vetting candidates remotely for a position that entails working remotely. Learn what they are and what to do about them.

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Image: iStockphoto/Igor Kutyaev

In the TechRepublic article Amazon, Disney, and Uber reveal remote interviewing and hiring processes, N.F. Mendoza looks at key human resource trends and predictions regarding remote hiring. Mendoza wrote, “The once new normal, and now just normal has changed the way employees and companies not only initially find each other, but the nuances and practices regarding ongoing relationships between HR and staff.” 

Aside from figuring how to handle all the subtleties of remote hiring, there are plenty of cybersecurity challenges that also need to be addressed. One example might be how employers hire safely and efficiently without ever meeting prospects in person.

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What are the challenges?

Identity fraud is always a concern. The State of Identity Verification, a research paper from HR.com, mentions that one-in-five respondents to their survey of 300 HR professionals in various industries, ranging in size from small businesses to large enterprises, reported instances of identity fraud at their company.

Another significant challenge is finding out in the process of hiring–or, worse yet, afterwards–that a candidate posted content that did not align with company policy.

The Harris Poll, on behalf of CareerBuilder, conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 human resource professionals across industries and company sizes. Of the professionals involved with social research, 57% have found content that prevented them from hiring candidates. That poll was made in 2018, yet is still significant in 2021.

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“As social media permeates all aspects of our personal and professional lives, what you post online can have serious and lasting consequences,” mentioned Ladan Nikravan Hayes in the Harris Poll survey. The following are some of the reasons why a job candidate was not hired:

  • Discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion (31%)
  • Linked to criminal behavior (30%)
  • Lied about qualifications (27%)
  • Bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employees (25%)

How can companies protect themselves?

Ken Schnee, general manager of the technology, media, entertainment and hospitality group at Sterling, offered several ideas that companies can put in place to protect the business.

Background checks: Advances have increased the efficiency of background checking platforms, resulting in more accurate dossiers. However, using a third-party background screener may be more practical and cost effective, especially if compliance in global markets is a consideration.

“Look for a screening provider that can extend their services globally in the same efficient and diligent framework while addressing regulations at various levels of jurisdictions, including local, state, national, and global,” writes Schnee in this Sterling article. “As your company expands, you should focus on finding the right talent instead of depleting your valuable company resources.”

Social media checks: This may seem like an invasion of privacy, but social media is just that: social. Schnee noted with so many remote workers and stay-at-home orders, social media usage has skyrocketed.

Susan Wold agreed. In her Digital Commerce 360 article, COVID-19 is changing how, why and how much we’re using social media, she mentioned, “We surveyed over 4,500 Influenster community members in North America about how much they’ve been using social media during the pandemic, what they are using it for and how their behavior on social media has changed throughout the experience.”

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Here are the pertinent results from the Digital Commerce 360 survey:

  • The majority of respondents agreed that their social media consumption (72%) and posting (43%) have increased during the pandemic
  • The majority said they hadn’t decreased their time on any of the social media platforms they use

Put simply, knowing what is going on in the social media realm is vital to protecting the company brand.

Best practices for remote onboarding

“When you hire remote employees, the question becomes, how can you build trust with an employee you haven’t physically met?” asked Schnee. “The usual approaches of verifying I-9s and documentation along with in-person training and meeting the team are all nonexistent.”

Another consideration is that potential remote employees could soon have access to proprietary information without oversight or the confidence that comes from personal interaction.

When hiring managers are unable to meet the new employee, Schnee offers the following advice: “Now more than ever, background checks are key in building trust and safety with new hires. A fully remote identity verification and background check process can help you trust your employee early in the onboarding.”

Once again, if building these processes into the company’s digital HR platform is not a consideration, there are third-party providers that can run remote checks and verifications.

Consider the new remote employee

To relieve new job jitters, Schnee suggests bringing as many elements of team and company culture as possible into the remote onboarding process. “Setting up team meetings as well as one-on-one meetings can make the new employee comfortable in their remote role, build rapport, and give them a place to ask questions,” Schnee said. “Building relationships and asking for feedback should help the new employee feel connected to their new role and team.”

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Final thoughts

It is a brave new world out there and both parties–company and job seeker–need to look hard at the pluses and minuses of working remotely. If the only choice is working remotely, then both parties need to consider ways to make the best of the situation.

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