All posts by Tracey

Your Next Job is Out There…

Your Next Job is Out There…

It just may not be where you thought it would be.

We’re coming up on graduation season (congratulations, everyone!), and that means that a bunch of bright-eyed folks are joining the millions of people who are already on the quest for the perfect job.

But what if I told you that there’s more to the tech hiring industry than the Valley, New York, and Austin? Don’t get me wrong, those places are great, and there are fantastic opportunities there right now, but what about the rest of the world?

And what if I told you that you might have been missing entire sectors in your hunt? There’s more opportunities than the big name companies, and you may even find the work to be more rewarding, challenging, and impactful.

Let’s talk about why you should consider widening your job search horizons.

Living can be expensive

While salaries in the tech sector are some of the highest, the tech hubs of San Francisco, New York, and Austin, also have some of the highest cost of living, taking a sizeable bite out of what would be an otherwise generous salary.

Living in say, Pittsburgh, Bentonville, or Indianapolis will give you much more bang for your salary dollar. You may sacrifice some of the “Big City Wow” factor to go work there, but it may also present you with opportunities to make an impact by starting a Meetup, a chance to slow down, or to be closer to loved ones or outdoors experiences.

Commuting can be expensive

“No worries,” you say. “I’ll just rent outside the city and commute.”

To state the obvious, commuting is expensive in cash terms, even in places with good public transport. However, it is also time expensive.

Think of it this way: Break down your salary into an hourly rate, or use your hourly rate. Then consider the time factor for your commute. If it’s variable, say 45 minutes on a good day, 1 1/2 hours on a bad day, land somewhere in the middle.  How much does that commute cost you each way in time? Then add in how much it costs for gas if you drive, fares if you use public transport, or yearly bicycle maintenance costs if you’re a fan of two wheels.

Adds up, doesn’t it?

It also adds up mentally and emotionally. A 2014 study by the Office of National Statistics in the UK found that commuting increases anxiety and negatively impacts overall well-being.

Opting to live in a city where you have a shorter commute has benefits, even if you take a pay cut.

Alternatively, looking at a tech career in a different type of industry for employment may lead you to a workplace that is within easy commuting range, or the best commute reduction-remote work.

Which brings me to my next point.

Tech jobs. Tech jobs EVERYWHERE.

The great thing about having a career in tech, whether you’re a developer, a data scientist, a social media strategist, a UX designer, or any one of the myriad of roles, is that your skills are highly sought after by companies that aren’t “tech” companies.

Your expertise is highly portable, and the principals of your practice can apply almost anywhere. So why not consider a role as a UX designer for a healthcare product? Or data science for a local government? Or software engineering for a museum? Web development for a school district or university?

Think about products, industries, and causes that you care about. Who are the players in those arenas? Start scouting them for networking opportunities and job openings.

Give it a chance

Taking your tech skills into a new industry may be a challenge. You may have to lead your new coworkers in some learning sessions on current practices, tools, and methods.

Think of that as an opportunity. You’re gaining experience in being part of a team, being agile (small “a” agile) to achieve a goal, and solving problems in not-perfect conditions. I can guarantee you that those skills, and the empathy you gain from them, will serve you well throughout your professional life.

Additionally, your contribution may have a larger impact in a non-tech sector. You won’t spend months toiling over the perfect curve of a button (ok, you might. We see you, designers.) but you may fundamentally change the way a company does business. You’ll also likely have more agency and ownership over your product and work than you may have had in a large tech company, and that’s something to add to your portfolio.

So I implore you to think outside the box by evaluating your skills against your desires for location, and work. Consider life in a new area, or even your hometown, on a holistic basis. Find employers that are doing interesting work on problems and products you care about.

Go forth and do good things!

The Good Goodbye: On Your Way Out

The Good Goodbye: On Your Way Out

In the first part of the Good Goodbye series, I talked about the mechanics of resigning and how to handle your coworker’s reactions.

In this installment, I’m going to talk about how to make the most out of your last weeks, and how to make a positive contribution on your way out

Chart Your Course

Once you’ve decided on your last day, it’s time to think about what you need to complete before you leave. Think back to your first week of this job. What mess did your predecessor leave for you to untangle? Be kind to the future you, and leave your work and projects in a better place.

But be realistic. Between meetings, work, potentially packing and moving, and possibly interviewing your replacement, you won’t have time to fully complete everything. And that’s ok.

If you cannot complete something, get it to a happy place, and by that I mean a place where the next person who looks at doesn’t need to be you to figure out what is going on. You may have to go in and comment the living daylights out of your code or start a completely separate document for comments or instructions. There is also great utility in writing down some historical moments in a project or product’s lifespan. You know, those moments when you decided that the app would do x instead of y because of z reason.

Whoever is handed your project will thank you for this.

Get what is coming to you

Be sure to read your contract, and your terms of employment to make sure you are going to get everything that is coming to you in terms of compensation, health coverage, and retirement benefits.

Schedule a meeting with your HR representative to go over what you will and will not get. Have them answer these questions, and bring data to back up your answers:

  1. Will you be paid for any leave you haven’t taken?
  2. What is the status of any retirement plan contributions?
  3. Are you owed money from performance bonuses?
  4. Do you have outstanding expense reports that need to be fulfilled?
  5. Will your last pay be mailed to you, or will it be electronically deposited? If it will be mailed, make sure they have your correct address, particularly if you’ll be moving.
  6. Who is the person to contact for pay related matters once you leave? What is their direct line and e-mail?

Schedule Your Exit Interview

This is where I have to turn towards the employers for a moment. Employers: you need to do exit reviews. Yes, they can be awkward, but you need to do them for the good of your company. I’m going to assert that off-boarding people can be just as important as onboarding them.

Back to you, job leaver.

Schedule yourself an exit interview. In some companies, an exit interview is not a given, and will only be scheduled if the outgoing employee requests it. If that’s the case, request it.

As a leaving employee, you have valuable feedback and experience you can share relatively freely. Remember when I asked you to write down your real reasons for leaving in my first post? And remember how I said your resignation letter was not the time to air your dirty laundry?

Well, folks, it’s time to do the washing.

OK, just kidding, not really. You don’t want to use your exit interview to trash your soon-to-be-ex-employer. Use your exit interview to provide constructive feedback and to (hopefully) help them improve.

Talk about why you’re leaving, specific incidences where company policy or structure let you down, share ideas you have for correcting problems. I want to caution you against personal attacks. These tend to shut down the conversation and it can cast you in a bitter light.

In the past, I have used generalizing structure words to abstract away any personal feelings or implied guilt.

Try to use statements like “The company’s management structure sometimes made my reporting and review chain unclear. I think I would have benefited from a much clearer and better-documented management structure.” rather than “Jane was a bad manager, I never knew if I was reporting to her or to Tom.” which focuses on individuals.

While yes, individuals can be a huge reason for leaving, think of the feedback you’re giving as working to rebuild a foundation, rather than repaint the walls.

If you’re escaping an unpleasant workplace, it can be tempting to just want to lash out at everything and everyone and tell them just how bad their workplace is, flip some tables, and steal all the ketchup from the cafeteria. Those are legitimate feelings (Please don’t flip tables. And put the ketchup back.), but share that with a therapist, friend, or partner, rather than your ex-employer. The tech world is very small, and leaving on a Hulk Smash note or like an angry toddler can and will haunt you.

Remember, you may need them for a reference some day.

Spread the word

If you work with outside vendors, you’ll want to come up with a strategy to pass them off to another coworker, and also to communicate this transition to them. Again, they don’t need to know the details, they just need to know that you are leaving, when you’re leaving, and who will be taking over for you.

Inevitably, you’ll miss someone or they’ll type your email out of habit. Be sure to arrange inbox forwarding to the person who is stepping in for you.

Your Last Day

On your last day, review the map you laid out for passing off your work. Did you get to everything? If not, make a note.

If there is something that you have password protected and those credentials might be lost, work with a tech lead or IT to hand off those keys.

Check in with HR about the state of any payments or benefits owed.

Be sure to bring any keys, passes, books or hardware that belongs to the company and return them.

Bring a box for your personal stuff, and be sure to take it all.

Enjoy your celebratory cake. Say goodbye to your coworkers, and exchange contact details if you want to stay in touch.

Leaving a job can be stressful and emotional, but it can also be a chance to improve the workplace for future employees, and it can be a way for you to cruise off into your new career, knowing that you did your best to say a Good Goodbye.

 

The Good Goodbye: Resigning with Dignity & Kindness

The Good Goodbye: Resigning with Dignity & Kindness

Because Authentic Jobs is a company devoted to helping connect creative professionals with fantastic job opportunities, it’s easy to forget that there’s a less fun side to all of this.

When you get a new job, you’ve got to leave the old one.

People change jobs for many reasons, some of which are personal. It could be moving into a new phase of life where you need to be closer to care for a friend or relative. Your partner may have just got their dream job in another city. You may be looking to cut out an expensive and stressful commute.

Of course, people leave for career reasons, too. You cannot see an opportunity to grow on the horizon. You feel your skills and ideas aren’t valued. The company made a choice to ax a product you’ve labored on for months.

For whatever reason, it is time to make the leap. But before you burn bridges, I want to make the case for making a good goodbye and walk you through it. In this first part, we’ll talk about the mechanics of resigning.

Before I begin, be sure to read your employee handbook and your contract. Know what your reporting structure is, and what you are contractually obligated to do for your employer when you resign. Take a moment to look at your state and country’s labor laws, as well. 

Know why you’re going

Remember that first day you went home and said: “No watching Antiques Roadshow tonight, I’m working on my resume.” What got that stone rolling?

Was it just because of money (an entirely valid reason, by the way) or was it because you felt you would have more job security moving to a new corporation?  Do you love your job, but remote work isn’t an option, and you need to relocate for personal reasons? Was there an incident where you felt you weren’t valued, or your contributions were discounted, and you realized that there was a pattern of behavior?

Identify the things that are making you go. Save those thoughts. Write them down, and we’ll come back to them soon.

Decide when you’re going

Do not resign from your current job until you’ve negotiated an offer and signed it. Trust me on this one.

Don’t resign until the papers are signed. 

The process of deciding your end date is complicated, a mixture of wanting to leave your old team in a good place, respecting your new employer’s needs, and possibly taking a small break between jobs.

Let me get this out of the way: there is no legal requirement that you give two-weeks notice. In the US, giving two weeks notice is a courtesy to your employer and more of a societal standard than a requirement. That being said, if you can give two weeks, do it. It’s a kind thing to do. You may also have reasons you want to give more, but t are a few things to consider.

As soon as you tell an employer you are leaving, the dynamic between you has changed, and thus continuing to work with one foot out the door for months isn’t recommended. However, if you feel that leaving after a feature ships, or that organizing your work for a smooth transition would take longer than two weeks, you’ll need to identify the soonest end date that won’t leave your almost-former employer in a bind.

Passing off work and documentation in a good state is a great way to maintain a collegial relationship with your former employer. Think about the last job you took. Were there things you wish your predecessor had done? This is your chance to do those things.

How to say something

When you’ve got your new offer in hand and signed (and not a second before), you should schedule a face to face meeting with your supervisor, boss, or team lead, depending on your reporting structure.

Do not fire off an e-mail as soon as the ink on your offer is dry. Do not send a text. Do not send a Slack message. Do not do any of the above if you are having/have had celebratory drinks, in particular. Schedule a meeting. If you work remotely, schedule a video chat. It may seem old fashioned, but telling folks face to face indicates respect for them as a colleague and for the opportunity of working there.

Once your meeting is scheduled, prepare what you’re going to say. A skill I learned in my sorority days was to use “Positive and” statements. Leading with positive words and phrases encourages people to listen when you’re about to share challenging news or feedback with them.

The trick is to be sincere and assertive in equal measures because this is a statement. You’re not looking for permission to leave, or support for this decision. You are merely informing them of a fact. Something along these lines:

“Thanks for meeting with me, I know your schedule is full. I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to be part of your team for the last three years. It has helped me grow tremendously. However, I’ve been offered a new position outside the company that I am going to take. Looking at the schedule, I think that my last day should be in two weeks, on March 1, after we get the product launched.”

If you are the type that gets nervous in these situations, or if you feel you may cry or get emotional, I encourage you to prepare and practice your resignation speech ahead of time. Do some simple breathing exercises right before the meeting. And if you’re like me and tears can happen, come prepared with a tissue (this is stressful, there’s no shame in tears!).

After the meeting, take a break. Go to the restroom, take a walk, get some food. The process of leaving can be draining, and righting yourself afterward can make all the difference.

After you’ve notified your most senior supervisor and taken a moment to compose yourself, go ahead and inform the rest of your team. If your company has procedures on this notification chain, be sure to follow them.

Write it Out

You’ll likely be asked to put your resignation in writing for your HR file. Your written resignation letter should include a few points of order:

  1. Your last day
  2. Your forwarding address for pay, tax forms, etc.
  3. Contact details (non-work email and phone)

You are not under any obligation to state where you are going, or why you are going. Don’t air your dirty laundry in this letter. Its purpose is only to document that you are leaving. Follow the “Positive and” sentence structure. You can even use your prepared speech as a template for your resignation letter.

What to do if it goes south

Someone once told me something right before an uncomfortable conversation: “You cannot control people’s reactions. You can only control your reaction to them.”

I wrote the above with the best possible scenario in mind, one where everyone acts like adults and professionals who want to remain at the very least civil with each other. But that, my friends, is sometimes not how it happens.

Sometimes, these things go badly. For introverted, shy, or non-confrontational people, actually, ok, for most people, the thought of a hostile reaction from an employer is terrifying.

Let me state unequivocally: if you feel unsafe in your meeting or after you’ve told your team, leave. Forget everything I’ve said. If you feel unsafe, threatened or harassed, you’ve done your part, grab your personal items and go (or leave and have someone from HR ship them to you).

If you are an “at-will” employee, your employer can tell you to take a hike right then and there. Be prepared for this possibility with a contingency plan. This may mean dipping into savings, freelance work, or moving up your start date at your new job.

Be sure to read your employee handbook on what belongs to the company, including software, hardware, and intellectual property. If there’s the possibility of the interaction going badly, you do not want a fight over software licenses.

For US employees, you’ll want to consider what resigning or being fired after you resign means for your health care coverage. Depending on the date of your resignation, and the effective start date of your new job, and the start date of a new insurance plan, you may find yourself uninsured for a period of time. You may need to factor in the cost of COBRA coverage for you, and any dependents you have, into your contingency plan so that you are continually covered.

So now that they know, what now? In part 2, I’ll talk more about using your remaining time, and how to get and give the most from your exit interview.

World Water Day Q&A with Makena Cunningham of charity: water

World Water Day Q&A with Makena Cunningham of charity: water

Authentic Jobs is proud to support the mission of charity: water. If you’ve ever landed on our 404 page, you might have discovered our longstanding partnership. Today, March 22, we’re joining charity: water in celebrating World Water Day.

Makena Cunningham of charity: water took time to chat with us about charity: water’s mission, work, and just how important clean water is.

1. Tell us about charity: water! What’s your mission, why were you founded, where are you, who are you?

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. We send 100% of public donations directly to fund water projects in the field, and work with local organizations with years of experience to build sustainable, community-owned water projects around the world. We track every dollar raised and prove projects with photos and GPS once they’re complete.

charity: water was founded by Scott Harrison in 2006, with the idea that no person should drink dirty water. And since then, a community of over 1 million has joined us to fund nearly 23,000 water projects in 24 countries. Those projects will bring over 7 million people clean water.

2. How did you personally end up working at charity: water? What did you do before, and what was it about charity: water that made you want to join them?

I studied biological anthropology, and before that, I worked with political campaigns on the city and state level. Now, I realize that sounds a bit all over the place, but there was always a thread that held through those odd interests: a fascination with changing the way that people think about a topic or approach a problem within it. In anthropology, it was our collective past; and in politics, our current system.

I had heard about charity: water years before because of its mission, but never took a deeper look. Then, I had something big happen in my personal life that resulted in your classic “I can’t do this job anymore!” moment. I wanted to do something every day that I could feel and see the impact I was making. That night, I spent about 5 or 6 hours watching every charity: water video I could get my hands on and applied to join.

Ultimately, that meant leaving a couple of grad school osteology classes, joining the charity: water team as an intern, and discovering a passion for working with our partners that turned into a career that I love.

3. What does your normal work day look like?

I work with our amazing brand partners, so I spend about half of my day in communication with them! And topics of discussion can span from strategizing to executing campaigns built to inspire those companies’ communities while bringing people clean water. The other half of my day is spent with our internal teams, coordinating the details behind making all those ideas happen.

At the moment, we’re also in the beginning stages of planning a new giving product that we’re hoping to launch for brand partners in the fall. I spend just about every spare moment thinking about what that will look like digitally and physically, how partners will engage with it, and what impact it’ll ultimately have around the world.

4. So as an organization with a global mission, how do you stay connected? What tools do you use to turn good will and donations into clean water solutions for communities? If you’ll pardon the pun, what’s that pipeline like?

charity: water has always been hyper-transparent, and quite a few things go into making that happen! I’ll spare everyone the laundry list, but I do have two favorite tools: our online fundraising platform, and storytelling. The platform, mycharity: water, ties Dollars to Projects. That means that once the project you helped is complete, we show you exactly which project you funded. And that’s true for a six-year-old raising a few hundred dollars selling paintings as well as a world-famous band member who’s asking for donations instead of birthday presents.

Now, that’s a lot of data. But we also want to make the impact of our work real. And that means taking to social media, videos, and our blog to inspire people with stories about our beneficiaries, our partners, and our incredible supporters. This month, we’re highlighting incredible women from Adi Etot, Ethiopia in our own 30 Under 30, having campaigners take over our Snapchat, and even taking over brand partners’ social media.

5. It’s World Water Day! Tell us about what World Water Day means to you and your organization.

World Water Day is an event first created by the United Nations to bring attention to the chronic lack of sanitary drinking water that affects 663 million people today. charity: water usually celebrates that day by launching a campaign or story to raise awareness of the water crisis and show what we’re doing to solve it. In the past, that’s varied from a Waterwalk in Times Square to sending dozens of Jerry Cans around the world for a massive Instameet, to launching a new brand partnership!

6. You’ve also launched a brand new campaign for World Water Day. Tell us about its creation. What do you hope to achieve with it?

This is one of my favorite charity: water campaigns to date. Last October, the charity: water team spent two weeks in a community in Tigray, Ethiopia, collecting more than four hundred individual stories about the need for clean water. We heard from each person how clean water might improve their health, wealth, or chances of becoming a doctor, driver, or engineer.

On World Water Day, we’ve launched a beautiful, interactive microsite where you can see what it looks like for someone just like you to live without clean water. You’ll answer a few questions, then the page will reload and you’ll be staring back at the video portrait of the person most like you in Adi Etot. You can read their story, see what their life is like, and ultimately, give clean water to help someone like you.

7. What do you wish people knew about providing water to the communities you serve?

Water changes everything, especially for women and kids. We say it all the time, but I still feel like I can’t say it enough! In most of the places we work, it’s their job to collect water for their families. Not only does unsafe water make you sick, but the walk for it can also take hours from each day. It often means time under a hot sun or crossing treacherous terrain, and time that they can’t spend in school. But once there’s clean water closer to home, kids can go to school. Women can start a garden to grow more food, or a business to have more income. And everyone’s healthier.

8. What are some of your biggest challenges on the ground?

One of our most common solutions, a hand pump, will get pumped five million times a year. And they’re not exactly precision-engineered. So a big challenge is answering the question: “what happens when a well breaks?”

We’ve always worked with our local partners within their existing maintenance models, but with nearly 23,000 projects underway or completed, you can imagine that sending mechanics around to check on projects isn’t scalable.

With a grant from Google.org, help from PCH Lime Lab, a few years of trial and error, we developed a remote sensor that wraps around the center of a hand pump, and measures and transmits the water flow. That flow data is then fed into an algorithm that generates alerts if the flow is outside of an expected range. That way, we know when a project breaks and mechanics need to be dispatched to fix it.

Now, over three thousand sensors are transmitting water flow data from Ethiopia, and we’re starting a pilot program to bring the same technology to different solutions, like piped systems in Nepal. And with that type of information, we can become more efficient, keep water flowing, and find new ways to share that technology with our community and the water sector.

9. What was your biggest achievement of 2016? And what are you hoping to achieve in 2017?

2016 was our tenth anniversary! It’s a huge milestone and it was so fun to celebrate with our community of supporters and partners. In 2017, I’m excited for us to find ways to create new connections: both within that community, and to the work that they make possible.

10. What was the last thing you read that made you change your mind?

I just finished “The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates” by Frans de Waal. It made me think a little differently about the source of empathy and morality.

11. Shameless self-promotion time: What makes charity: water great? With so many wonderful causes and organizations in the world, what makes you stand out? And, importantly, how can people give to you? And is there a mode of giving that is super impactful (i.e. subscription, one-time donation, etc?)

Our mission is to bring clean water to people in developing countries, but our vision as an organization is to reinvent charity. We want to inspire you, and create a community of people and organizations that are passionate about generosity.

One way we do that is through transparency — an unshakable 100% model, proving every project we build, and finding new ways to show you the impact through sensor data. Another is through telling stories, whether it’s doubling Tencia’s income from her bread-making business in Mozambique or the lemonade stand that had a local band play on the sidewalk to raise money for clean water.

And what could be better than getting that good news year-round? charity: water recently launched The Spring, a subscription to bring clean water to people in need. I’m a member, and you can join me here.

Q&A: Josh Pigford of Baremetrics

Q&A: Josh Pigford of Baremetrics

Authentic Jobs has some of the best clients. Seriously, you folks are doing amazing stuff. So we thought we might roll out a new series to help us know one another a little better and to introduce the world to the work and office culture of some of the employers that use our site.

The new series will feature a Q&A with an employee of a company with an open position on AuthenticJobs. If you’re game for a few e-mail questions, get in touch!

Josh Pigford of Baremetrics was kind enough to take the first plunge, and you’ll find the conversation below.

1. So, you’re Capo di Tutti Capi (cool title) at Baremetrics! Tell us a bit about your company?

Baremetrics helps businesses grow by giving them the tools and insights to make better business decisions! We want to make it as easy as possible for companies of all sizes to get revenue analytics without needing to spending weeks or months building crazy internal tools.

2. What did you do before working at Baremetrics?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years (or 30+ years if you count all of the random little businesses and money-making ventures I concocted as a kid!). I started Baremetrics in November 2014 scratching my own itch with two other SaaS companies I had in the survey space. But really I’ve had so many different businesses over the years from a toy company to advertising software to a pet management app and a popular tech publication.

3. What does your typical work day look like?

I wake up at 5:45 am, get the kids ready for school (I’ve got 3, which most days feels like 30), and then I’m usually in my home office by around 7 am. As the CEO my actual day-to-day various pretty drastically but it’s essentially making sure our team has everything they need to do their jobs well and then talking to customers to make sure we’re serving them well.

4. You’re a fully remote company. Did you start out that way? How did you make the decision to go remote?

I’ve worked remotely my entire career, so it’s really the only thing I know. It sort of just happens naturally and makes sense in my head to be able to hire and work with anyone from anywhere.

5. As a remote worker, what’s your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge with working remotely is just making sure I don’t become an old angry recluse (get off my lawn!). 🙂 I have to intentionally get out and interact with other humans on a regular basis to stay sane.

6. Baremetrics seems to have a really distinct and fun corporate culture. How does Baremetrics go about building that? What were/are those conversations or pivotal moments?

I think culture, especially for a remote team, starts with the people you hire. It’s very hard to directly influence it or change it drastically. It’s just a natural outpouring of everyone on the team. There are things that I want to make sure do/don’t happen and so I do small things here and there to make sure we stay on track. For instance, make sure we’re building each other up and not that there’s not any nasty internal politics. But really that requires so little work because the people I’ve hired don’t gravitate to negative things. That’s very intentional.

7. What makes Baremetrics work? Tell us about your favorite tools.

The toolset of our team varies a bit based on job role, but there are four things nearly every one uses every day: Slack, Basecamp, Intercom and Clubhouse. We’re really absurdly big fans of Intercom. 🙂

8. So, you’re hiring. What makes an application and candidate stand out? What’s one sure-fire way to land your resume in the NO pile at Baremetrics?

It depends on the role, but at the end of the day I want to know that you’re just plain really good at the work you do. Right now we’re hiring a Designer and so many people lob over their entire portfolio of basically anything they’ve ever designed. I don’t want to see that. I want to see your top 3 pieces ever and why those were so important and why you solved that design problem well.

Also, the ability to communicate well is a lost art. Given so much of our team communication happens over text, it’s crucial that you are able to communicate thoroughly but also succinctly…it’s a fine balance. The most common reason someone quickly gets disqualified is not actually responding to the questions we’ve asked in the application. They get in “mass application” mode and just try to submit an application as quickly as possible, ignoring pretty basic stuff. My advice? Just read the questions and take a few extra minutes to give a thoughtful response…it really goes a long way.

9. What do you think makes a good remote employee?

Someone who can guard their time well and resist the urge to always be working! Having an established routine and hobbies outside of work are crucial to avoiding burnout.

10. What do you wish you had known before you started working remotely? What advice to you give to people starting their first remote job?

See #9. 🙂

11. What do you do for fun?

I make stuff! I got into hobby electronics a year ago and I’ve also got a small handmade homewares shop I run for kicks.

12. Have you read anything lately that’s changed your mind about something? What is it?

33 thoughts on reading by Austin Kelon.

6-ish Things I Learned Transitioning to Remote Work

6-ish Things I Learned Transitioning to Remote Work

In November, I made a significant life change. I left an eight-year career in museums and art history to being working remotely in tech. Like many people, I had dreamed of working from home, envisioning luxurious days of sipping coffee in my pajamas in front of my laptop, looking back on my days of commuting to a brick and mortar office with bemusement.

While the coffee sipping has held true, there are a few things that surprised me when I made the jump to remote working, not the least of which is the fact that few people work in their pajamas.

Here are a few things I’ve learned thus far.

1. It’s hard to explain.

One of the challenges of my 30s is explaining what I do for a living, and how I can do it from home. The option of going to work in your basement, or in a coffee shop, didn’t exist in my parents’ work lives.

My dad has wondered “How do they know if anyone’s working if you don’t punch a clock or go into an office? Won’t people take advantage of it and goof off?” As someone who punched a clock or otherwise had their time tracked for their entire working life, I had no idea how it would work.

What I’ve discovered is that my work product is my time card. It’s less about being physically in a seat and more about producing. If I’m not working, things will break, and people will notice, likely more so than if I was phoning it in by being physically in an office.

2. First days are still awkward.

You’d think that joining a remote team would be straightforward- just open up your laptop and start cranking away. By and large, that’s true, but there’s still that “first day of school” feeling that can be terrifying.

You’re going to be missing a password. You’re going to have to ask a bunch of HR questions. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to have no context for the inside jokes on Slack. Except when you’re remote, there aren’t many chances for casual interaction that might clue you into the joke or help you discover which person has the right login credentials.

You have to initiate those conversations actively, and as a somewhat shy person who is also the new kid on the block, that can be hard.

3. Stress is a thing.

When I started working remotely, I thought my stress levels would magically decline, given my lack of commute and access to all of the comforts of home. Largely, that’s true. Being able to make my coffee, cuddle the dog, go to the gym in the middle of the day, and not have to fight the absurdity of Pittsburgh traffic has done wonders for my mental and physical health.

However, work is work, and stress is still a thing. Working remotely has required developing new strategies for managing stress. At first, I was nervous about completing work and if I was producing enough through the day. I was constantly watching my phone for Slack notifications and responding to every email buzz, no matter what time. I was a stressed out wreck.

I have also set distinct boundaries for work and home. I use my office as an office and do nothing else there. My laptop stays plugged in on my desk and doesn’t creep upstairs unless it is a sunny day and I am working on the porch. I try to log out and stay logged out until the next morning. While I am at work, I limit personal calls or errands to designated breaks and attempt to stay focused on the task at hand.

To help manage the workload, I try to calendar and schedule projects and deadlines, including mundane weekly tasks. I use Slack’s /reminder feature religiously. I also vigorously protect time to walk my dog in the afternoon, forcing myself to get out of my office and to focus on a different task for a half hour.

4.Text is (mentally) expensive.

In my office job, communication tended towards the verbose. Meetings, planning, extensive documentation, and lengthy emails ruled the day.

When I transitioned to working remotely, this was my default setting. Multi-paragraph emails, lengthy Slack messages, etc. Until a fellow remote worker (not a coworker) kindly told me to cut it out.

As a lover of words, I was offended.

Then it dawned on me that my team is bombarded with text all day long. Our default tool is text, and deriving meaning from text takes time and brain power. My Moby Dick emails were slowing them down. I am actively working to reform my text firehose habits to lessen their stress and communicate more clearly.

I am actively working to reform my text firehose habits to communicate more clearly. Recently I’ve started using Grammarly to check for sentence length and overused words, and I’m also trying to cut 25% of the words in a draft. It’s ruthless, but effective!

5. I’ve learned to be more assertive.

In my previous jobs, there were strict hierarchies and rules about meeting and communicating with people higher up in the organization.

When I began working remotely, the physical barriers of executive assistants, office doors, and officemates disappeared. I now have direct access to my CEO, my supervisor, and my coworkers, but the years of working in a traditional office setting plus a healthy dose of shyness mean that I have to hype myself up before barging into their DMs.

I’ve had to learn to be assertive and to ask for things because there isn’t the casual coffee-pot conversations or random hallway chats to surface issues. It’s not easy or comfortable to push past some of my introvert tendencies and start the conversation myself, but it has been necessary to get things done.

6. Know thyself.

In my past jobs, everyone had a set time to punch in and out, with no variation. With a globally distributed company, those rules are a bit amorphous. Like Dave recommended in his post on productivity, we schedule hours to overlap and largely synch on Eastern Standard Time. However, people are highly variable. Some of my colleagues crank out amazing work late at night.

And then there’s me, one of those annoying cheery morning people.

I know myself, and I know that my most productive hours are 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM, and so I work on tasks that take focus then. I might take a longer lunch or go for a late-day workout so that I have overlapping hours with my other teammates during their productive hours, but this strategy has been a way for me to use my strengths and still accommodate the working styles of my team.

6.333. It’s just as awesome as everyone said it would be.

Hey, I said 6ish.

For all of the bumps of starting a new job, in a new industry, and doing a new style of work, I have to say that working remotely has been life changing.

I love the freedom, responsibility, and relaxation that has come from working at home. I’ve rediscovered joy in hobbies that my commuter life had killed. I’m able to be more present before and after work.

If you’re considering making the jump from a traditional office setting, acknowledge that there is an adjustment period, give yourself room to learn, and embrace your newfound freedom.

Trust me. It’s awesome.

Want a great hire? Start with a great job listing.

Want a great hire? Start with a great job listing.

One of the most frequently asked questions in the Authentic Jobs support inbox is “How do I get people to apply?”

While individual motivations are tough to pin down, here are a few things we’ve observed about applicant behavior.

First, remote jobs receive exponentially more views, clicks, and applications. People want to work from anywhere, apparently. Second, jobs with disclosed salary ranges receive more applications than those that don’t.. Unfortunately, not all work can be done remotely, nor are all employers set up for remote work, and salary disclosures are tricky.

Regardless of your team set up, the universal tool for boosting applicant quality and quantity is a well-crafted job listing. The humble listing is an overlooked art form. At its best, a listing reaches out and grabs the perfect candidate(s), and there is much rejoicing. Because it is an art form, there’s not a perfect formula for writing a listing, but there are some characteristics.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the components of a compelling job listing, and tell you why they work.

TL;DR:

Frequently, candidates are skimming employment sites for posts that fit their interests and skill level. But they’re evaluating a lot of possibilities, and frankly, they don’t have the time to read a job listing rivaling the length of War & Peace.

Keep your paragraphs short, and use concise language. Use bulleted lists for required skills, responsibilities, and experience. If you can make it a list instead of a paragraph, do so.

Tell them what they’ll be doing

Candidates want to know if the job is work that they want to do, in an industry segment in which they have interest. Give them specifics. What are their concrete responsibilities? What is the specific product?

Of equal importance is telling people what your company does. Your ideal candidate may have no idea who you are, and just like meeting anyone for the first time, a clear introduction is best. Without using hyperbole, exaggeration, or buzzwords, explain what it is you do. If you build a product, explain what your product does.

While saying “We build life-changing synergistic applications for direct to consumer medical use” is an accurate description, it means very little to those outside of your organization.   

“We build software to help people monitor their diabetes at home” is the same statement, but no one fell asleep while reading it.

Blackbox explains their business concept at the very beginning of their job listing. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

A short description that leaves no doubts as to the company's purpose.

A short description that leaves no doubts as to the company’s purpose.

 

What do you expect?

Along with letting people know what they’ll be expected to do, let candidates to know what skills you expect them to have on day one.  It can be tempting to ask for an alphabet soup of programming languages, libraries, and tools, but how many of those are critical to the daily work of the new hire?

It’s important to remember that languages, frameworks, and tools are learnable, teachable things that are in a constant state of flux. It’s impossible for a candidate to have each and every one of them to an expert degree.

Be mindful of the timelines of your requirements. Requiring a degree and ten years experience in a programming language that has only been around for 5, will land you swiftly in an applicant’s “Nope” bin because it implies that you’re unfamiliar with the tools and the community.

To that point, highlight the opportunities and tools you offer to help your employees to grow their skills, such as conference stipends, book allowances, tuition reimbursement, and other education partnerships. It indicates that your company understands that new and different skills may be needed to keep up, and you’re interested in growing employees, rather than trudging forward with the same tools.

Talk about people

This job posting from Help Scout stood out for its clear description of the people who would be working with the new hire.

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HelpScout introduces the people their new hire will be working with in their listing.

Not only did they name them, they explained how each person’s work would interact with the work of the new hire. Clearly explaining team roles in this manner lays out the new hire’s day-to-day, and it illustrates how different departments intersect.

Set yourself apart

While many postings highlight amenities like free beer and ping pong tables, applicants pay more attention to amenities like parental and family leave policies, paid time off, healthcare coverage, and retirement plans. Job seekers are looking for numbers, too.

How many weeks parental leave do they receive? How much PTO? Is the policy unlimited, or have you opted for a minimum vacation policy? Do you offer employer matching on retirement? 

This post from MeetEdgar explains some of their perks, and also links to an external document that explains their full benefits package. 

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MeetEdgar’s perk of monthly cleaning services for your home office is definitely a notable.

Show them the money

Being upfront about compensation helps applicants set expectations, and can prevent an abrupt end to an otherwise smooth recruitment process.

Authentic Jobs offers a “tiers” system that displays a range of compensation, and we find that postings that list compensation receive more applicants. Applicants know how much money they need to be comfortable, and these salary tiers are also a search filter, so adding pay to your listing will help your listing match with a candidate’s expectations.

Not every employer can give numbers in their job posting, but if you’ve got other forms of compensation, that’s certainly something to share. Much like perks, the more details you can give, the better.

Where?

Where do you want your candidates to be? If you’re a fully distributed company where people can work from anywhere, shout that from the rooftops.  If you’re running a time sensitive project that requires lots of face to face interaction with clients in a particular city, you’ll want to be upfront about that geographic restriction.

Further, be clear about your ability to hire workers internationally, and to sponsor visas for applicants. Authentic Jobs draws candidates from across the globe, and this information is very important for them.

Give directions

So now that a candidate is enamored with your company and ready to apply, what do you want from them? Do you want a cover letter or no? How should candidates submit portfolios? How many samples do you want in those portfolios?

Portfolio submission instructions from Atlantic Media: https://www.authenticjobs.com/jobs/28814/junior-product-designer

Portfolio submission instructions from Atlantic Media’s post for a Junior Product Designer.

Keep in mind, applicants who are actively job hunting may be submitting 10 or more applications a day, and a complex or overly burdensome application process is just another reason to skip your job. Make sure that you’re requesting only the information you’ll use and need, and make it easy for applicants to get it to you.

Remember that your job posting is essentially your application to the candidate, and so it warrants putting a few sets of eyes on your posting. Have your technologists evaluate the skills section. Have you HR rep make sure you’ve included important perks. Have everyone check for spelling!

By combining a solid job listing with a great pool of candidates (what can we say, Authentic Jobs users are pretty fantastic), the perfect match is just a few clicks away.

 

Announcing new partnerships with Dribbble and Designer News

Announcing new partnerships with Dribbble and Designer News

Authentic Jobs is pleased (read: over the moon!) to announce new partnerships with Dribbble and Designer News. Authentic Jobs, Dribbble, and Designer News share a common love for designers, hackers, and creative professionals, and so these partnerships feel natural…some might even say authentic?

So what does this mean for you?

It means that you’ll now be able to cross post your job to the Dribbble jobs board and the Designer News jobs board directly from Authentic Jobs.

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Much like our new add on features, our this partnership exponentially increases the number of people who see your job post. The Designer News and Dribbble cross posting option is also about quality- it’s not just about more people seeing your job, but more people with the right skills, experience, and knowledge seeing your job.

At Authentic Jobs, we’re here to support you in your search for the right candidate, and we know this partnership with Dribbble and Designer News will lead to even more perfect hires.

 

Our New Feature Will Expand Your Posting’s Reach

Our New Feature Will Expand Your Posting’s Reach

At Authentic, we’re always looking for new ways to connect employers with great talent. But one of the biggest hurdles is telling people you exist, you’re awesome, and you’re hiring. It’s a matter of getting a job posting in front of the right person, and so we’ve rolled out a few new features to help make that happen.

When posting an opening, you’ll now see a new section below “Highlight Your Job!” called “Expand Your Audience.” Here, you can add on a featured spot in one of two SitePoint newsletters, each with over 100,000 subscribers, or the UXBooth email newsletter which reaches 16,000 UX professionals every week. These three options will help target your Authentic job towards just the right set of professionals and expand your reach beyond the job board alone. We’re also looking for more network partners to add to this list. If you’d like to explore this opportunity, please send us an email.

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Ready to try out the new features? Fantastic. Head on over to our posting page to get started.

To help you handle the stream of resumes, we’ve also added another feature, thanks to a suggestion from a user. Applicant names will now be inserted into the subject lines of emailed applications, allowing for easier searching and differentiation. Previously, some email clients were threading all submissions together, sometimes making searching for a stand out candidate more difficult than it should be.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be deploying some new features and updates for Authentic, and we’re working hard to come up with ways to improve our service and our site.

Suggestions from our users is a gift, and we welcome your feedback! If you’ve got an idea of how we can improve, or find that something on our site is harder than it should be, we’d love to hear about it. You can always reach out using the contact form or email us directly at [email protected]. All emails are read by a real human being, so feel free to spell it all out for us. We’re here to help.