Hiring someone when you can’t see them face-to-face can be daunting. Are they up to the task? Will they be reliable? What are their credentials like and can I trust what I’ve seen on an email or web profile?
Now, try hiring a future employee from thousands of miles away. These are some of the conundrums faced by people like travelpreneur Michael Peres, from Montreal, Canada.
Having worked in Brooklyn, Manhattan, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Honolulu, Kauai, Jerusalem, Israel, Las Vegas, and now Seattle, his ‘office’ could be anything from a video call on the beach in Hawaii to the next, an internet cafe in Israel.
The 29-year-old software engineer, currently based in Seattle says it’s vital you do your homework and come prepared when looking for candidates remotely.
After nearly three years running a successful business on the road, he has designed a ten-point plan for fellow remote hirers.
1) Hiring Talent Across The Globe
This is a double-edge sword. If done correctly, you will find yourself at a tremendous advantage over your competition. If you can’t make it an immediate success, it can quickly become an endless stream of stress, agony and burned money.
Let’s take the pros. There are 24 hours a day, but the majority of businesses only operate for 8-12 hours. This means that hiring abroad actually increases the amount of work you can fulfill in a given 24-hour period by two or three times what your competitors do, which is an absolute game changer.
How can you make this work? You must create strict work protocols within the company. Rules and software for documenting work, client tasks, errors, assigned tasks and deadlines will reduce the need for communication and micromanaging. Tasks can be taken over and transferred within your company with little to no communication. This way, work can be delegated when you sleep and taken over when you wake up. Otherwise, employees will step on each others toes, you’ll have frustrated clients and you’ll quickly exhaust your budget.
2) It All Starts With The Sell
Freelancers and remote workers have an abundance of jobs to pick and choose from – you need to make yours stand out. Write a stellar job advert that challenges professionals, offers fair compensation, and provides the opportunity for long-term collaboration. By writing your job post in such a way, you target driven individuals who are loyal and will stick to you and your business. It also means you’ll snap up the best freelancers away from competitors
3) Trust But Verify
Imagine a scale of numbers between zero and ten – at zero is the most naive person you’ll ever meet, whereas at 10 is the biggest cynic possible. At this point, you need to be number 7.
Anyone can write anything online so request proof for the things that matter. If they claim to be software engineers, great, request a picture of their ID plus their diploma – and match the name.
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If they claim to have previous experience in a particular field, ask for links to their work or portfolio. If you are not familiar with a certain line of work, for instance coding, just hire someone for a few bucks to check the legitimacy of their work. Type their name and business into Google, search their social media profiles and check to see if they have received any reviews for previous work.
Don’t be afraid to ask. People who have nothing to hide are more than willing to cooperate with you. It’s important, and for peace of mind, to know you’re going to get value for money from the person you are hiring. If things don’t go smoothly at this point, it is a red flag for future troubles ahead and the candidate should be disregarded.
4) Cheap is expensive
Avoid being cheap when hiring talent – you may think you’re getting a good deal but it could end up costing you a lot more in the long term.
First, look for a candidate that has quality, the skills you are looking for and see if they can deliver your goals. Then, start the negotiation to find a price that everyone is happy with. One of the common pitfalls is employers prioritizing money before they have assessed the skills of the candidate. The risk here is that you can end up paying for an unsuitable employee who can’t deliver your goals. Subsequently, you’re throwing money away because you’ll then have to hire ANOTHER person to re-do that job.
High-quality workers might charge more per hour, but they often tackle complex tasks in a shorter time frame with a high caliber of results. So, paying more can actually mean paying less. They are also the type of people who value their time, so do your research to avoid wasting their time – they’ll thank you for it and it will prove to be a pleasant long-term working relationship.
5) A Smart Employee Is Not always a Good Employee
Make sure that anyone you’re considering hiring has common sense, passion and excellent communication skills.
Many aspects of common sense are culture specific. Things that may be obvious to you and I, may not seem to those of a different culture. This can be frustrating when you find yourself babysitting projects, and instructing employees as if they were robots, asking them to correct an endless stream of minor or major errors.
My advice would be to always get a candidate for passion. You have a dream, one that you’re passionate about. You can’t ever expect your employees to care about your work as you do. That being said, they have to love the work you’re giving them, more than the paycheck.
6) Make Your Virtual Experience A Real One
The hiring process is only as virtual as you make it so make the job feel like a real one, with real people. It’s important you introduce a strong element of human interaction, and build a personal relationship with the employee and client.
Arrange a video call, using Google Hangouts or Skype, so that you can get an understanding of the person’s attitude – you’ll start to get signs as to whether you can work with them or not. If either you or the employee can’t do a video call, make it a phone call. It is much more personable and effective to discuss projects over the phone – just a ten-minute conversation can achieve more than several emails over several days.
Still Not Sure?
After the interviews, if you’re in the position of having more than one promising candidate, this is great news. You hold the trump card.
Set both candidates a small paid project to see how they handle the type of work you are asking from them, set a deadline and see which project better suits your style.
8) Hiring Doesn’t End At Hiring.
So, you’ve decided on your ideal candidate? Now, you’ve got to keep them hungry and motivated. Employees can perform exceptionally well when they have something to prove, and less so once they feel they got the job. You’ve seen them at their best, but you want to make sure that behavior is consistent. Are they consistently active? Delivering on time? Paying attention to detail?
Have other options at your disposal and plan for the worst. It is not uncommon to have to let an employee go mid-job but if you have a reliable backup plan it can make the whole process much smoother and shouldn’t affect the business. You don’t want to be forced to keep an underperforming employee around because you don’t see a better option.
9) Start Small
Start a new employee with a small project so they can get started, feel involved, and you can start to work out their strengths and weaknesses. It is also great for testing if there are any work differences, or time zone challenges, and allows both parties to set up an effective system for communication with little stress.
When you are in the early stages of work, pay people promptly. They are giving you their time for work, so shouldn’t be using that time to chase for payment. If you are slack in this area, you could lose talent elsewhere to competitors.
10) Stress Test
Talking about stress, this may seem controversial but over the years it has proven invaluable to me. A good employee is not just one that can perform in ideal settings, but one that can weather a nasty storm – and any company doing good work will also find themselves in stressful situations from time to time.
What I do is slightly over-react to an issue, or artificially create a stressful environment to see how the employee reacts – is the employee going to double down and work with me? Or make the situation worse? These characteristics are vital to me to see the prospects of future collaboration.
Michael is a software engineer, mathematician, and full-time traveller. He’s founded two start-ups as well as his own podcast, the Michael Peres podcast, which focuses on the latest news in the science, entrepreneurship, and technology worlds.Read More
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