Category Archives: Hiring

Building a Startup Team From The Ground Up

Building a Startup Team From The Ground Up

Building a product takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. Most startups need to be efficient with budgets and take advantage of what they have. Every decision founders make has a direct impact on the company’s ability to make it to the next month, and most importantly, the ultimate success of the product.

When possible, the best way to do this is to add team members on an ‘as needed’ basis. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is hiring individuals with similar skillsets just because they’re in your inner circle.

To optimize your tech startup team, follow this guide to start hiring off on the right foot.

The Bare Bones Essentials

Operations and Sales
This tends to be a co-founder role, but it doesn’t have to be. This person leads all these operations and sales. They keep the team running and dive deep to figure out who customers are and how to best reach them. They’re out pitching, networking, and representing the startup.

This hire needs to live and breathe passion for the business. They need to have an entrepreneurial spirit and be willing to go all in. If you’re searching for this person, the best places to look are within the startup community in your city. Go to events, visit forums, or search through your network to find them.

As your team grows, this role should be split between two employees: one to focus into the business from an operations perspective, and one to focus on the business from a growth perspective.

Technology Lead
This role is often filled by your other co-founder. If you’re working in the technology space without a technology lead, you’re going to need to find one quickly.

This individual focuses on where the product needs to end up and how to get it there. They’re responsible for product roadmaps, growing a capable team to support the product, and creating the product itself. The more development and tech skills this person has, the better. You want a big picture thinker with granular level skills.

The Gray Area

Design & UX
It’s safe to say the world of ugly technology is far behind us. In 2017, products need to be both functional and sexy. A designer is indispensable for finding what makes products succeed from a human psychological aspect and ensuring products are as user-friendly as possible.

This role can be mistaken for a “fun” or “fancy” one, but founders need to recognize its crucial role in product development and avoiding mistakes and costly errors from the get-go. You may be able to stumble through the first bit of development without a designer, but the sooner you can get them on your team, the better.

If possible, find someone with experience in your niche. If not, narrow in on the specific type of design and UX elements you’ll need and find someone who has similar experience.

Full-Stack Developer
If you’re building anything technology related, you want a person who can get the most jobs done. It can sound counter-intuitive since the HR rule of thumb is to hire specific talent for specific roles, but when it comes to a bare bones, bootstrapped team you want a full-stack developer over front-end or back-end.

If you’re working on mobile, dig until you find someone who can do both Android and iOS. By taking the time to find these well-rounded developers, you’ll add valuable assets to your team that save a full additional salary and hours of late-night headaches.

Keep in mind this role falls after design & UX. Often you can find a technology co-founder (or be one yourself) that knows enough about code to get by. By combining your tech lead’s skills with a designer, you can get pretty far without hiring an additional developer.

The Forward Thinkers

Marketing Strategist
Marketing is always a difficult role, because a product can be built without a single marketer laying hands on it. The problem here is that most products won’t “sell themselves”, no matter how great they may be.

Consider your product’s audience, buyer’s journey, and customer acquisition costs before making a marketing hire. It’s easy to throw it out the window, but having a single person to handle all public relations, advertising, and content might be worth the costs of a salary.

Product Manager(s)
Product managers are an important role: They free up the CTO (or Technology Lead) to focus on the big picture while they handle the roadmap and tactical side of individual product lines. Product managers are a great way to stay organized, effective, and grow your products to the highest potential.

Creating a single product? You can probably afford to skip this one. Product managers operate like mini CTOs for specific product lines, so a one-product organization can stick to their technology lead, designer, and developers before looking twice at product management roles.

Customer Service
Depending on your target market and buyers, you may never need a customer service representative. For more interactive customers, the operation lead will often stick with the customer throughout their entire journey to help them with any questions they may have.

If your product has a quicker buying cycle, a customer service representative will help take the day-to-day emails and inquiries off your hands. This role is easier to fill and requires less specialization. It’s a quick person to train, but it helps your company focus on acquiring the next customer and retaining current ones.

Human Relations
The big scary letters: HR. The components of human relations can be handled by an internal operations manager, but the line is thin and easy to cross. One day these tasks will seem manageable, but the next you’ll be in over your head.

Always reevaluate the company growth and projections for the coming months. A strong HR candidate in the startup space can be a rare find, so you want to get the advantage of looking early before you need one. Try connecting with local HR managers in your city who are active in the startup community. They’re interested in engaging with startups already, and you may just find one ready to make the leap.

Building a Team for Success

Whether you hire for all of these roles or only just a few, you need to find the people who are going to click with your team. You can argue that what’s on paper matters most for a new hire, but we all know it comes down to more than that.

Working at a startup is different from a regular corporate job. Regardless of the title, look for someone who’s ready for challenges, willing to cooperate with all team members, and will do what it takes to get the job done.

PS – Ready to hire but not sure where to start? Read our roundup of the best places to find startup talent.

The Simple Way to Rank Job Applicants [With Free Template]

The Simple Way to Rank Job Applicants [With Free Template]

Ranking job applicants is the best way to find a qualified candidate in a stack of resumes. But it’s key to begin with an end in mind—unclear expectations will lead to vague job postings and lackluster candidates.

Once you’ve sorted through applications and start scheduling interviews, it’s time to think about a ranking system to compare candidates.

How do you rank job applicants?

Although the practice sounds like something out of a business textbook, ranking job applicants is a practical approach to hiring used by countless successful entrepreneurs.

Imagine you’re hiring a designer. Say you’ve determined they must have one year professional experience, design education, Photoshop proficiency, and are comfortable on a remote team.

Outline your requirements. Usually these qualifications should be on a scale of 0 to 10. Look through your job posting and pull out necessary skills and backgrounds needed to make the role successful.

Measure applicants against the system you’ve developed. Say an applicant has been a freelancer for six months. They’d receive a 5/10 for experience. But, it’s clear from their portfolio that their Bachelor in Fine Arts (7/10) has made them more than proficient in Photoshop (10/10). Considering their freelance work has prepared them for some remote team work (6/10), this candidate seems promising with 28 of 40 possible points.

To make this easy, we built a super simple (and free!) spreadsheet to help managers rank job applicants. Download it now.

Simple but not easy

Just because ranking job applicants is simple in theory doesn’t mean it’s easy to execute. You need to think carefully about what makes an ideal candidate so you can assign an appropriate value to the criteria you’ve decided to assess.

You must also determine the best method to test your criteria. Deciding on the best approach depends on what type of skill you’re ranking.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are tangible abilities developed through experience and education.

For most positions, there are some hard skills necessary to even be considered for a role. A developer, for example, must know how to code in certain languages. Use the required skills section of your job posting to set criteria for hard skills.

But even if someone claims on their resume to have a computer science degree from MIT, you should assess their actual ability. Have them complete a relevant programming challenge before the interview and assign a score based on their performance.

Soft Skills

Soft skills go beyond the resume and include intangible qualities like leadership, cultural fit, and being a team player. Although many recruiters place a greater emphasis on hard skills, it’s often the intangible x-factor that makes a new hire a superstar in your company. Ignore soft skills at your peril!

Interviews are the best way to assess soft skills. There are two good approaches:

  • Situational questions: See how candidates would react in different scenarios. For example, “What would you do if your supervisor refused to give clear direction?” The question is theoretical, but the answer provides insight into how a candidate approaches their job.
  • Get personal: Dig deep to figure out if you want a candidate on your team. Cultural fit is vital, especially at a startup. Open ended questions like “where are you from” and “what’s your greatest accomplishment” tell you a lot about a candidate’s personality and motivations.

Assigning a score to soft skills is trickier than hard skills. Although you can try and anticipate responses to certain questions, it’s usually best to go with your instincts when judging things like cultural fit and initiative.

What if candidates are similarly ranked?

If two applicants share the same rank, start by reviewing how you weighed various criteria. Maybe you said you valued design education and ability equally. But perhaps you interviewed a candidate without any formal education because they came highly recommended. When they completed the sample assignment, you were blown away by their grasp of your brand. As a result, they received a similar score as that candidate with the prestigious fine arts degree whose sample work was a bit “meh.” You may want to rethink how much you value the education requirement.

When two candidates have the same hard skills, entrepreneurs rarely regret hiring the one who seems like a better fit with the team and vision. Remember, you want someone who will be happy growing with the company. That’s priceless.

Finally, involve your team. Introduce top candidates to colleagues. Ask technical experts to review candidate’s work samples to see if there’s something you missed, and even ask them to assign scores for criteria like technical ability and personality fit.

Ranking saves all kinds of trouble

You’re systematic in everything else you do, from accounting, to product development, to marketing and sales. Hiring your team – the future of your company – should be no different.

Ready to rank job applicants? Download Authentic’s free candidate ranking tool.

Why and How Startups Should Hire Remote From the Start

Why and How Startups Should Hire Remote From the Start

Building a team in a traditional office environment is expensive, especially if it’s in a tech hub like New York, San Francisco, and Austin. In these places, startups compete for limited talent and expensive office space while trying to build a new company.

That’s why startup founders should consider hiring remote when it comes time to build a team. Let’s discuss why and how remote employees could work for your startup.

Why Remote Teams Are A Great Option for Startups

With location out of the equation, remote teams unlock new opportunities for startups. Founders and team leads should consider the following three perks when deciding if remote teams are the right fit.

1. Access to talent
Finding the best talent is one of the biggest challenges facing employers. By hiring a remote team, you increase the size of your talent pool because you can hire people located anywhere in the world, or at least in the same timezone.

Because of this, remote work improves your chances of attracting the best and brightest. Many talented web creators are looking for more flexibility in their day-to-day lives, and being able to provide the freedom of remote work can give you an advantage when competing against tech giants for talent.

2. Cost
Hiring a remote team saves money in the short and long term. Not having a physical office means no monthly rent payments and less money spent on office supplies. Onboarding remote employees also means you don’t need to pay salaries to meet living standards in large cities.

Startups can use these savings to invest in employee training or work retreats. These perks create a happier workforce and a more cohesive team—not to mention, more profit!

3. Performance-based results
Remote teams send your employees a simple message: you care about work that moves the company closer to its goals. Without requiring a physical presence, employees have to point to performance to show that they’re contributing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

By letting employees choose the workplace that suits them best, remote teams are also given more opportunity to be creative and productive.

The Keys to Hiring Remote Employees

It’s clear that remote teams offer major perks to startups operating on a lean, performance-based model. Hiring managers and startup founders should keep in mind that hiring for remote jobs is different than for traditional office environments. Keep these four strategies in mind when building your first remote team.

1. Hire employees made for remote work
Remote work isn’t for everyone. Hire people with remote work experience, or who want a flexible work environment. Most great remote hires share common characteristics like being tech-savvy or having strong communication skills. To find the best talent, use a tailored job board like Authentic Jobs.

2. Be clear about your expectations
Nothing is worse for business than a boss with ambiguous expectations. From the first job interview to the team Skype meeting, tell your team what you expect from them. Holding people accountable is important in any management role, but all the more so in a remote work environment.

Setting clear procedures will help. For example, a specific time each week for a one-on-one phone call with team members keeps everyone one track.

3. Focus on outputs, not inputs
Like I pointed out before, great remote workers focus on performance instead of logging in. When hiring remote employees, give them the freedom they need to perform. For example, flexible work hours let people work when they’re most productive. This shows you care that the work gets done rather than when it gets done.

Of course, not all roles can offer flexible work times. Many teams have “core hours” when meetings and collaboration take place so employees can structure the rest of their day for their work and lifestyle.

4. Don’t think it’s easy to transition to remote later on
The best time to start building a remote team is with your first hire. If you make the decision to switch to remote later on, you run the risk of isolating employees who aren’t comfortable with a remote arrangement.

A blended model is usually awkward and leads to a “two-team” approach. You definitely don’t want your team to think employees who work from home are less important, or that remote work is a cushy arrangement for slackers.

Is A Remote Team the Right Choice?

Working remotely can have enormous benefits for your company and your team. It unlocks access to new talent, lets you save money, and puts the focus on results.

When hiring remote teams, it’s important to hire personalities fit for remote work and to be clear about expectations from the start. With these tips in mind, startups everywhere can build remote teams that are poised to disrupt markets far and wide.


Ready to find the perfect remote hire? Try Authentic Jobs.

The 8 Best Interview Questions For Designers and Developers

The 8 Best Interview Questions For Designers and Developers

Every candidate is different. As is every job and every interview.

But founders and team leads can pinpoint questions that apply across the board to find out what experience each candidate has, how they conduct work, and how they would fit into your team.

Here are eight interview questions you should ask all designers and developers during the interview stage.

Experience & Skillsets

What programs have you worked with in the past?

This is a standard resume question. You can read up on their specific application experience in their submitted resume, but asking it in person gives you a deeper look. Pay attention to what order they go in. The programs they list first are the ones they’re likely most comfortable with, while the ones they list on their resume but forget to mention in person are most likely ones where they lack in-depth experience.

This question also allows an opportunity to dive in and ask about how they’ve used each, what they like or don’t like about them, and which they hope to work with most often.

What industries have you done work for?

Don’t limit yourself to designers and developers who have worked in your industry. If you do, you risk missing out on some powerful talent and may even find your new hire falling into the old ways of their previous company’s needs.

Get an idea of what industries they’ve worked in before to understand how their unique experience can help your organization grow. This also gives you an opportunity to see if they’ll be bored or excited by the work you need them to do.

What have your past teams looked like?

The DNA of development and design teams vary depending drastically. Has this person been working independently or are they used to a detail-oriented process that involves multiple members?

It’s important to understand what they’re used to in order to understand their preferred management and teamwork style. Do they have the time management skills to run all projects? How do their skillsets normally complement others?

What project are you most proud of and why?

Looking back on everything you’ve accomplished and picking a highlight is an important step in the interview process. It gives you a better understanding of the type of work they value, the size of projects they’ve worked on, and what specific skillsets they enjoy utilizing the most. Did they enjoy the product because they were the lead on it? Did they simply love the aesthetics of their final work? Narrow in on why it was their favorite project.

Some other key interview questions on experience and skillset include:
  • Which websites or companies do you admire and why?
  • What are two things you would change to our current website from your experience so far?
  • What type of work do you love doing and what do you hate?

Interview questions to decide team fit

Personality & Team Fit

How do you approach a new project?

Vague questions can be uncomfortable for applicants, but they provide insight into their experience, their skillsets, their personality, and most importantly, how they fit in your team. Get them to walk you through their creative process, the questions they ask before getting started, and how they see other team members collaborating with them throughout the process.

Ask how they manage expectations and how they work to ensure important deadlines are met. This question can trigger some major red flags and help you avoid candidates who rely too heavily on others or are possessive of their projects.

What’s your favorite part of your day?

Are they passionate about developing a creative strategy or executing on the final details? Do they look forward to social breaks to find inspiration from teammates, or do they crave an afternoon in silence alone with their tasks and headphones?

This question helps figure out how they would jive with your company culture. It’s a good way to see if they’d be a fit for your organization, but it’s also an insightful one for optimizing their onboarding if you decide to extend an offer. If they like quiet, offer them a desk location away from the sales team. If they’re big into collaboration, re-evaluate how your team is currently set up to get a collaborative space working for them. You can also narrow in on the tasks at which they’ll excel or fall short and prescribe their workload accordingly.

Ask a behavioral-focused question.

Large tech companies are infamous for their approaches to interview questions. Google has been known to ask problem-solving questions to challenge a candidate’s creativity and resourcefulness. Shopify focuses on the “tell your story” approach, where candidates are asked questions about their life.

These types of questions may feel like a drastic change, but finding a problem-solving, behavioral question that fits your company is a great way to find your perfect match.

Some other key interview questions to gauge personality and team fit include:
  • How do you know when a project is finished?
  • If a project scope changes entirely midway, how would you react and adapt?
  • How would you handle conflict if someone disagrees with your vision on a particular project?
  • How can you ensure other team members understand their role in the project?
  • Describe your current manager and what you like or don’t like about them.

Lastly, always ask “How do you keep up with current industry standards, trends, and new tools?” This question speaks to their experience, scrappiness, skill set, and personality—all indicators of how they’ll fit into your team.

Finding the Perfect Match

There is no perfect, pre-determined set of interview questions for hiring developers and designers. Test some of these out, and always remember to focus on the areas that are most important to your organization. Is it better that they have a wide skillset or that they fit in with their co-workers? Is collaboration key to your company success or do they need to be able to work isolated?

Answering these questions will help you plan a better, more insightful interview process.


Ready to find the perfect candidate? Try Authentic Jobs your next hire.

A group has a planning meeting.

Hiring Remote? Here’s How to Communicate Company Culture

We’ve all heard about the fun things companies like Google and Facebook do to create a positive and engaging culture in their offices. It’s easy to drum up excitement in new talent when you can show off a cereal wall or slide on the office tour.

But what about the companies that thrive on remote staff? While it can be more difficult to communicate and effectively promote company culture when hiring for remote positions, it’s not entirely out of reach. Consider the below strategies as you develop your remote hiring process.

Well-Written Job Posting

When seeking to hire new talent to your team, take care in writing an accurate and engaging job description for the role. This is the first interaction that will attract talent to your company, so make sure your brand personality and unique aspects of your culture are present in the posting.

When hiring for remote roles, be sure to include any special perks your company offers off-site employees. Some companies will offer bonuses like internet allowances, professional training packages, or subsidized private health care.

More unusual remote employee perks include coffee shop gift cards, gym membership allowances, vacation expense allowances, and even long-term sabbaticals offered over incremental periods with the company to prevent burnout.

Face-to-Face Remote Interviews

When conducting interviews for remote team members, incorporate face-to-face meetings into your process. Face-to-face meetings are as important for hiring remote staff as they are for in-house staff. Using tools like Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts, it’s easy to coordinate a meeting with candidates from anywhere across the globe.

Taking the time and effort to coordinate a face-to-face chat helps to personalize the meeting and allows both sides to gain a better understanding of one another. A lot is communicated through nonverbal cues, so this can be a great tactic to help you get a better feel for the candidate while providing them the opportunity to get a better feel for you as well.

People have different strengths in communication. Some may feel the most comfortable over email, others may prefer to speak over the phone, and some may find a face-to-face chat the most effective. In your interview process, try your best to incorporate all three methods of communication to give a fair opportunity for each type of communicator to shine.

Interviews With Various Team Members

Extending your interview process past the hiring manager and direct manager offers benefits for both sides. For the candidate, this gives an opportunity to get a feel for the different personalities on the team. For the company, it provides an opportunity to get an accurate idea of how this individual might fit into the team dynamic.

Setting up meetings between a candidate and team members is always a good idea. After all, these are the people the hire will need to communicate with on a regular basis. Getting a feel of what it would be like to work with colleagues makes a huge difference in a new hire’s understanding of company culture and can make or break the interview process.

Adding to that, it can be particularly beneficial to set up conversations with current remote team members for first-hand accounts of the remote workflow in your company and how your company culture specifically impacts remote employees.

Include Your Remote Team

If your remote company culture could use some love, prioritize these changes before you continue building remote teams. Treating remote team members like freelancers separate from in-office workers is dangerous for morale and retention.

There are many ways you can help build camaraderie and a sense of inclusion among your remote team members. This could include big on-location events like team meetups or even smaller, more commonplace gatherings like daily or weekly online hangouts between staff to catch up on project progress and speak with each other in a more relaxed setting.

Many successful remote companies hold annual or semi-annual gatherings to bring their staff together. For example, Buffer plans semi-annual trips with their whole team to have discussions and strategy sessions for the months ahead. Then, the team takes the evenings and weekends to enjoy the location and get to know each other better.

Promote whatever your company does to bring together remote workers physically or digitally. Include these experiences on the company blog and social media, and showcase these perks in the hiring process. Displaying this part of your culture shows remote talent that you take their contributions seriously and gets them excited to join the team.

Remain Open to the Changing Workplace

As workplace trends change, continue to create opportunities for remote team members to feel included in the inner workings of the company. This drastically enhances a company’s culture from the perspective of future remote employees and makes the hiring process smoother.

As the world becomes more and more connected globally, your remote workforce will become an increasingly important part of your team. Retaining this top talent around the world could be the key to your company’s success.


Expanding your remote team? Use Authentic Jobs to find your next hire.

The Basics of Making An Offer To Your First Hire

The Basics of Making An Offer To Your First Hire

Recruiting and interviewing your startup’s first employee is a thrilling and trying time. For startup founders who often lack HR experience—and are already deep in the activity of launching a business—the process is downright daunting.

Once you’ve found a candidate that checks all the boxes, it’s time to bring them on board. This process can be broken into four steps: covering the legal requirements, negotiating, making an offer, and planning for their first day.

In this article, I explain how to navigate each step of making a job offer with suggestions to make your life easier along the way.

The Legal Requirements of Hiring

This is arguably the least exciting aspect of hiring a new employee, but it must be done.

First, you should read this full article from the United States Small Business Administration (USSBA), as well as anything that’s unique to your city or state. Again, it’s not thrilling, but all of this must be completed before the new hire can log a single hour of work.

Additionally, you’ll need to have your new employee complete a W4 and an I-9 if you’re based in the US. As with the tasks listed above, these forms must be complete and on file before an employee begins work.

If these acronyms have you dazed, opt for online services that make this process smoother. WorkBright, Agile HR, and Zenefits are a few to consider. These services cost money to use but will be a lot cheaper than an in-house HR professional.

You should also make sure payroll is lined up before the new hire comes on board. For example, do you have a finance person in-house or will you use an outside service? Often times an accountant will run payroll for a small business or startup.

Navigating Negotiations

Now that the legal boxes are checked, turn your attention back to the would-be employee.

Before making an offer, request and check references. Make sure you get two professional references and one personal reference, then pick up the phone and call them. Ask the professional reference if they’d hire the person for the target position, and ask the personal references how long they’ve known the candidate and their thoughts on their personality and work ethic.

If that goes well, it’s time to negotiate with the candidate. Remember, a formal job offer is a give-and-take for all involved. That said, it isn’t about “winning.” Your goal shouldn’t be to walk away the victor, but to come to a result that makes everyone happy.

Salary is a logical place to start. First, define what your limits are. As a young startup, money is likely tight. Identify a number that represents your absolute limit for salary *and* benefits. Make your first offer a little below that figure so you have room to negotiate.

Next, be aware of what your competitors are paying those in a similar position, as well as what your candidate was earning at his or her previous job. To fill in any gaps between your ideal number and what competitors are offering, consider things like bonuses and benefits. Flexible schedules or equity might go a long way.

At this stage, be willing to walk away. That’s not easy to say and even harder to do. If your would-be hire becomes inflexible or unreasonably demanding during the negotiation process, it’s best to let him or her go, as disappointing as that might be.

Making the Formal Offer

Once you and the preferred candidate negotiate a plan forward, contact them by phone or video call if you haven’t already. A face-to-face discussion is more effective at conveying your enthusiasm than an email would be.

Next, draft, sign and send an employee offer letter. It should include:

  1. A job description, including job title, duties and responsibilities
  2. Required hours or schedule
  3. Starting date
  4. Salary/wages and benefits

Of course, all of these items should have been discussed in the negotiation phase. Put a deadline on when the letter should be signed and returned to you by the employee. Giving candidates 24 to 48 hours is standard practice.

As a young startup company, you’ll also want to have a Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement signed by the employee (here’s an example). Without this agreement, they may be free to discuss your intellectual property or take work they created for the company with them upon termination. It’s best to protect yourself from day one.

Put the signed documents in a new employee file to be built over time with performance (records of promotions/demotions, performance reviews, disciplinary actions/warnings, awards or commendations) and separation records (termination paperwork, letters of resignation and exit interview notes). This will help you stay organized in the event of termination.

Preparing for the Start Date

It’s nearly time to celebrate and thank everyone who helped you get here. Hiring is a major milestone and one who should be proud of.

But first, consider that a new job is an exciting and difficult time for both employee and employer. Take these last steps to ease the pain for everyone.

Make a list of routine expectations. Years ago I was given a list of “Ongoing Tasks” I’d complete routinely, week after week. These did not change. Next, a list of general “To Dos” which changed from week to week and finally a list of “Open” tasks that I could address when I had time. I loved these lists, as I knew exactly what was expected of me as the new guy, and I plugged all of them into a daily routine that worked.

It’s also a good idea to plan the new person’s first week for them. This will be the time they’ll learn the product inside and out, read up on policies and procedures, and attend any planned orientation sessions you have. This ensures that they’re informed and reduces stress on their part. By week two, they can move on to “real” work.

A welcome kit with company-branded items isn’t a bad idea, either. Source: LinkedIn

Four Steps to Startup Hiring

Congratulations on bringing someone on board. It’s an involved process but one that’s certainly manageable for those who plan ahead. Be diligent and careful, purposeful and smart.

Follow the steps outlined in this series and use it as a checklist. May your employee roster and your business grow to great heights.


Expanding your team? Use Authentic Jobs to find your next hire.

Woman Taking Notes

3 Secrets For Leading Remote Teams to Success

Managers looking to successfully lead a remote team should have two concerns: hiring the right people and making sure everyone is on the same page after that.

While simple in writing, it’s hard to resist the temptation to treat remote workers as mythical beasts who are better left to their own devices. This isn’t Hogwarts, and remote workers aren’t wizards.

Great managers of remote workers do three things in common to ensure employees are happy, productive, and feel included. As I said, it starts with hiring the right people.

Find the Right People

Hiring remote from within

A successful remote team is staffed by the right people. Hiring managers looking to hire remote for the first time should consider a timed trial period to see whether the arrangement works as part of the company’s culture.

Define a start date, check-in times to monitor progress, and a wrap-up to discuss what was learned and what lessons can carry over if you plan to bring on more remote workers. Resist the urge to make it a one-month trial—you’ll need at least a few months to settle into the flow of remote work.

When selecting workers for this trial, consider employees who are productive and reliable without a lot of direct hands-on management. Be clear that they’re part of a trail and are expected to provide feedback on the arrangement as well as complete work as usual. With their comments, you’ll gain valuable insights on if and how a remote team will function and contribute to your business.

Hiring remote from outside the company

First, know where to find people who want to work from home. Job boards such as Authentic Jobs have lots of people specifically searching for remote work.

A remote applicant will likely describe themselves as a self-motivated, independent worker. Words are cheap so look for concrete evidence of this in their work history. Did she start a podcast or blog? Has she launched a website, product or a business? Has this person taken a chance with a startup? Someone who has a hand in projects like these typically have the focus and drive to work well in a remote setting.

Still, a little guidance will be necessary. As the manager, take care of this by defining expectations at the hiring stage. For example, communicate how you monitor progress and productivity by explaining the position’s monthly, quarterly and annual goals (as well as project-specific objectives) as well as outlining regular, mutually agreed upon check-in times.

If you and your remote team can schedule a day back at the office, great. If not, focus on finding the right tools.

Use the Right Tools

I spent five years in a virtual newsroom with AOL. There was an Editor-In-Chief, a Managing Editor (yours truly) and a stable of full-time writers and freelancers that spanned three continents. Even those of us who were in the U.S. were scattered from New York to California. In fact, no two of us were in the same state. Yet we had clearly-defined “office hours,” a strong work culture and concise, and effective team meetings thanks to some fantastic online tools.

Back then, we used IRC as our “office” (decidedly old school), but today my choice is Slack. Basecamp is another fantastic option, with a focus on recording a project’s history and all relevant communications. You should also consider Skype for meetings (and interviews), and a service like Trello for project assignments and coordination.

In the situation where workers are dispersed across time zones, setting rotating meeting times on these tools makes it so one individual or group of individuals isn’t always getting up early or working late. Check out this list of 19 products for managing time zone differences—many even integrate right within Slack.

Rules and Policies

As I mentioned earlier, setting rules and expectations in the hiring stage can ward off frustration later on. Sticking to these rules and expectations is key to ensure everyone is on the same page when they can’t be in the same room.

Here are a few I recommend:

  • If you’re “at work,” you’re in Slack (or IM, IRC, etc.) Email is fine but it can’t beat the immediacy of live conversation. Require remote workers to be in the tool of your choice during their work hours. Get site-based workers in the habit of doing this, too.
  • Set times for check-in meetings. This is a time you’ll all get together, either in person or virtually, to catch up, offer feedback and see where people are at.
  • End meetings with identifying action steps and the responsible parties. “So, the action steps are [X]. [Y] will report in a week.” That way everyone, including the “away team,” know’s what’s expected of whom.

I recommend keeping any rules in a central, easily-updated location to make onboarding easy. Then it’s easy to grab the latest copy and forward it to a new member of your away team.

Finally, be careful when discussing remote workers if you have an office-based team. It’s easy to use language that creates an “us vs. them” mentality that you definitely want to avoid. Be as generous with public praise as you are with all employees. This will prevent local workers from feeling “different” than your remote workers, and helps the distributed team feel included and acknowledged.

The 3 Steps to Success

With a little time and attention to these details, you’ll have a remote team that hums right along.

Successful management of remote teams relies on finding the right people, using communication tools, and setting expectations. Remember that home-based staff are just like the person in the next office… plus pets, a full kitchen and potentially a gaggle of kids at their feet.


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Dog Napping On Woman Typing On Computer

8 Low-Cost Perks That Attract and Keep Great Employees

A good perk can make your company stand out in a sea of job descriptions and motivate existing workers to stay on board longer.

Perks are well known to lift workers’ happiness and comfort levels. Of course, you needn’t offer the legendary perks that Google does like free food, workout classes and access to trained massage therapists to compete in the job market.

Here are 8 perks that provide value without breaking the bank.

Lifestyle perks

1. Flexible work hours.
Giving employees have a say in when they work doesn’t cost a thing and lets them feel empowered. Plus, it’s a fantastic perk for parents or students who are juggling school and schedules. Options include a compressed schedule (four ten-hour days) or the chance to work remotely.

2. A relaxed dress code.
Again, here’s a perk that takes nothing away from the bottom line and is something that most employees will appreciate. You could start with the typical “casual Friday” or let workers dress down on a day they aren’t scheduled to spend any time with clients.

3. Become a dog-friendly office.
Employees in dog-friendly offices collaborate more, are less stressed, happier to work overtime, and less likely to skip work according to a study by Central Michigan University. Of course, transitioning to a dog-friendly space is a big undertaking that requires some prep work. Start off by forming a dog committee of both owners and non-owners. The Bark published a great how-to on getting started.

Financial perks

4. Help repay student loans.
Startups and small businesses often attract young workers, many of whom are just out of school. Considering that many bachelor-level graduates leave school with hefty student loan debt, this is a serious recruitment and retention tool. The best way to get this done is through a service like Tuition.io, Gradifi or EdAssist. These companies acquire funds from you (say, $1,000 per year) and then apply it to various student loan services, on behalf of employees.

5. A commuter stipend.
If your company is in a large city, consider a small monthly bonus to help with commuter expenses. This could include Lyft or Uber rides as well as public transit.

Workplace perks

6. A welcome kit of branded swag.
Put together a welcome package including a branded water bottle, notebook, and a hoodie or T-shirt. It’s a small, effective way to say “Welcome to the team.” You’ll likely see the hoodies or shirts around the office on casual Friday.

7. In-house activities.
I once worked for a small company that had monthly, in-office activities that occurred after hours. One month it was board game night. The next month it was whiskey tasting. This is a great way to build cohesive, bonded work culture.

8. Offer food.
Large companies offer employees no-cost vending machines and 24-hour access to prepared hot meals. You can do this on a much smaller scale by stocking up on bulk items and keeping containers in break areas full of pretzels or granola bars, with free drinks in the fridge.

Perks are just the icing on top of a great job

Of course, you don’t have to match the big companies to create perks that attract and retain great workers. After all, working for a small company is already rewarding for the type of worker who likes to be hands-on and influence the direction of a growing enterprise.

But even as a small company, it pays to show workers and potential hires that you take their happiness seriously. While pay, location and hours help applicants choose a job, on-the-job perks give them a reason to stay longer once hired.


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8 Places to Find the Best Candidates

8 Places to Find the Best Candidates

It’s not easy to find the right people. Sometimes it can take months or even years to get it right.

But knowing the right places to look is half the battle. Below are eight ways to find the best startup talent through LinkedIn, universities, personal networks, and external services.

LinkedIn

Advanced Search Functionality
LinkedIn provides advanced search functions to help you narrow in on exactly what it is you’re looking for. This is a great way to weed out candidates, review their resumes before even reaching out, and get a feel for them based on their own words and their colleagues’ recommendations.

You can filter by 1st, 2nd, or 3rd connections, keywords, locations, current & past companies, industries, languages, interests, and schools with the free version. If you want to be crafty, start by looking up the employees of a competitor that you know is struggling, boring, or can’t offer the same perks as your startup. Connect and reach out on the platform to start the recruiting process.

If you upgrade to a Sales or Hiring plan, you can unlock additional filters like job function and years of experience.

Targeting Groups
Joining groups on LinkedIn is a popular way to stay up-to-date with industry trends and discuss challenges with peers in the same field. Monitoring these groups is also a great place to find talented new hires for your startup.

Join groups focused on finding employment in certain fields or general industry groups that dive into specific topics. These groups require a bit more digging as not all will be looking for work or the type of candidate you need, but it’s a great way to find hidden superstars passionate about what they do.
Try to stick with local groups if you need someone who can work from an office. If you’re open to remote workers, try .Net Developers or Designers Talk.

Post-Secondary Programs

Joint Work Programs
Co-op programs are a classic startup go-to for finding talent and, let’s be frank—cheap labour. These programs are more affordable than hiring because the school helps compensate the students, and you get employees who are learning up-to-date material. You can connect with universities, colleges, and even high schools to coordinate co-op students for your startup.

Some universities also offer a work placement system, which is similar to co-ops but structurally different. Usually, the school agrees to help fund their pay if you teach them specific skills that they may not be learning in their program. For example, employers would agree to teach students two new coding languages while at the startup. In these programs, employees often continue working for you after their co-op period is done, making them a more permanent hiring solution.

Internships
Similar to co-op programs, internships connect you with fresh talent. They open up the door to students who may not be part of a formal co-op program as well as new graduates or self-taught, talented individuals who chose not to pursue post-secondary education. Internships can be more difficult because they lack financial support from a third-party, but they can find you the best talent in town before competitors are even aware of their existence. Consider paying interns for the work they put in or you may burn bridges with irreplaceable individuals.

Networking

Personal
Keeping work and personal lives entirely separate is no longer a necessity. Turning to your personal network can be the best way to find the talent you need for a startup. Posting on your Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter can be a great way to find informal recommendations from friends or to even discover that your connections have the skills you’re hunting for. Everyone has at least one talented friend looking for work, so don’t be shy about reaching out.

Employee
If you have a strong team you believe in, chances are you can trust their recommendations. Ask your current employees to put out some feelers within their own communities. If they’re currently in school, recently graduated, or active in the industry, there’s a higher chance of them finding the relevant talent you need. You can also offer incentives for employees depending on your budget: some companies like to offer a $1,000 bonus if an employee finds the next new hire, while others may just treat them to a beer or Starbucks gift card for helping out.

Hiring Services

Recruiters
While there’s not much originality to this route, it can often turn out results. Working with recruiters allows you to focus on the work at hand while they push through the new hire research for you. Instead of starting from scratch, you only meet with the best candidates.

The downfall? Recruiters will never know your startup as well as you do. You can let them know what you’re looking for, but they may skip on someone with potential because they won’t have the same gut feeling you can provide in the job search.

Job Boards
Job boards are a great way to get your open positions out into the world. Websites like Indeed will get you lots of applications, but putting resources into a paid job board can step up the quality of the applicants and make your search less stressful.

Different job boards offer different opportunities. Remote OK is exclusive to remote jobs, Unicorn Hunt specializes in UK startups, while Authentic Jobs (that’s us!) supports the full gambit of web creator jobs in remote and traditional environments.

Test and combine approaches for the best results

There’s always going to be trial and error in the job search. After hiring a few employees, you’ll quickly figure out which channels work best for you. It’s normal to find that certain roles do better with one method of hiring, so don’t hesitate to try out different approaches to see what sticks.

Hiring can be a daunting, time intensive process. But taking the time to build the right team for your startup will be invaluable down the road.


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3 Things to Consider Before You Hire

3 Things to Consider Before You Hire

Hiring is a big decision. Whether it’s your first hire or your fiftieth, the process rarely gets easier.

Knowing when to hire is the first step in getting recruitment right. Budgets, workload, and growth goals have to align to welcome a new team member full-time, but missing one of the three can lead to layoffs and burned bridges.

Below are three ways to tell if it’s a good time to bring on a new team member or if a short-term fix is needed.

Planning workload

Before even considering a hire, founders and leads need to think about a new employee’s role and what responsibilities they would have at the company. Asking the right questions at the start can help teams decide if a contractor or freelancer is a better fit. Here are just a few examples:

    • How much overtime do current full-time employees clock?
    • Does the task lie within the startup’s core competency?
    • How time sensitive is the task?
    • After this task is completed, what will the hire do?

These questions will quickly reveal if a startup just needs an extra pair of hands for now or if they’re ready to welcome someone over the long-term. It’s best that full-time hires are brought on because your current team is working loads of overtime or because you need help with a long-term project.

Freelancers tend to be best for specific, time-sensitive jobs that sit outside of the startup’s core product or structure. Bringing on a contractor fills needs for a longer time period at a set weekly or monthly rate. Both freelancers and contractors are great for side projects that don’t necessarily affect the organization’s core competency, but probably shouldn’t be brought on to build new products.

Money Matters

Figuring out how much to spend on a new hire is just one component of a complex process. While full-time employees receive a fixed salary there are also benefits, medical, and vacation or sick days to consider. Before writing a job description, make sure a new hire fits within your financial goals over the next few years.

On the other hand, freelancers come with fewer stipulations but higher hourly rates. Contractors might offer lower rates than freelancers in exchange for consistent work for a set period of time.

Keep in mind that the billable hours needed to get freelancers or contractors up to speed are basically lost time and money once that person moves on. Staying on the same page is also difficult, even with weakly check-ins and daily communication. And it will be harder to negotiate a lower rate in exchange for equity with these folks, unlike full-time hires.

If you’re still on the fence, Toptal has an excellent salaried hire vs. freelance rate calculator.

Growth

Hiring is the best signal to the outside world that a startup is thriving and growing financially.

But keep in mind that your prospects and continued growth hinge on hiring decisions made throughout the company’s life. That initial $500,000 of venture capital isn’t necessarily a sign to scale up. Often, it’s a way of testing whether a startup and its management are capable of guiding an organization’s growth.

Don’t feel like you need to grow simply because money is coming in from sales or investment. Set long-term goals and benchmarks with engineering and product leads to see if and when an extra staff member will be needed. Then, check in with sales to make sure you have the cash to support them over a long period of time.

Hiring is a sign of a thriving startup. Firing and layoffs spell doom to investors.

Hiring is a Big Step

Hiring is a magical opportunity for companies. It’s awesome to know that people want to contribute to your idea, and that you’re helping people feed their families and plan for their futures. But making a full-time hire is a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Before bringing someone on, think about your plans for the role and other ways you could complete planned tasks. Putting in work at the outset will lead to less heartache down the line.