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The difference between remote and freelance jobs

The number of people in favor of remote jobs is increasing fast these days. This type of employment is especially popular among tech related people – developers and other IT experts, but IT recruitment agencies too. It’s no wonder this kind of employment is getting lots of attention and positive reviews because there’s so much good to it. Working from home or from a remote location does necessary require more discipline and lots of planning, and it certainly doesn’t work perfectly for everyone, but it has the goods to back up all of its shortcomings.

This time we’ll focus on similarities and crucial differences between working remotely and freelancing. Many people struggle while deciding which one would suit them and their lifestyle, while others are just not sure about the accurate meaning of these terms. And who could blame them, it's hard to tell the difference. 

One thing is almost axiomatic – all tech talents are looking forward to working from home at least every once in a while, and most of them would gladly try their luck working for a remote client. Many HR departments and recruitment teams can verify the accuracy of this theory. Staffing agencies are often asked by developers and IT experts if they have job openings of this kind.

Remote and freelance jobs are seemingly alike, but there are some pretty significant factors that separate them.

It wouldn’t matter where you are located or what you’re wearing for neither one of these jobs. You are trustworthy and reliable, you have the skills and the enthusiasm, you have a fully functional computer (or another weapon of choice) and the internet access. These are the inevitable premises to succeed working remotely or as a freelancer.

So, both remote and freelance career choices will provide you with a great deal of freedom. But to work remotely actually does mean to be “conventionally hired”. Everything is pretty much regular, there’s a contract involved and the working hours are often implied (probably flexible, negotiable or part-time but still - they’re often mandatory). The only thing that’s excluded from the deal is the office.

Contracts and obligations

A fully remote job means to be hired by a company or an organization. It is a home-based job but it involves constant virtual presence via communication channels like Slack, Skype, Hangouts and sometimes even using employee monitoring softwares, such as Time Doctor.

Although companies don’t require developers that work remotely to physically make an appearance, they do need to be present. Their work would be evaluated from time to time and they would be communicating continuously with everyone working on the project.  Just like any employee, you would get an assignments and your responsibility would be to complete successfully.

To be a freelancer does equal to have all the autonomy and liberty to make decisions about projects and/or clients. And this autonomy also means they’re not bound by contracts in majority of cases and they can turn down a job offer at any time.

Freelancers, however, don’t have this type of obligations. Their jobs have nothing to do with working hours, they schedule all of the activities and assignments the way they find convenient. It usually involves fulfilling tasks during a period of time that’s been previously agreed. Once you are done, you are free to move to the next project. And their work is being far less monitored by a client. It’s actually almost the other way around – freelancers sometimes need to present their own ideas to make things work. 

The selection process

If you are using platforms like Upwork or Freelancer you know how hard it is to land a freelance job these days. Most of the time, lowest bids win. On the other hand, companies that hire remotely usually have two things on mind: (1) do you have the hard skills to do the job and (2) can you communicate efficiently within a remote team? This usually leads to a way more rigorous selection process. You will apply for a remote position and you will have to prove the requirements on interviews, tests and more interviews. Hiring remote team members requires a well structured selection process. The thin line between freelancing a working remotely lies in the fact that..
Developing a long term relationship with the client on your freelance job may turn into a full time remote position.
Can you tell the difference now?

The Uncertainty

The coolness factor of freelancers’ life is mixed with the uncertainty. They have only themselves to rely on when it comes to finding a client. The source of income might not always be available and this kind of crises is what makes everything shaky and stressful. This is probably the reason why remote job feels more secure and might turn out to be a better option for some.

  [caption id="attachment_220" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nope. Nothing out there.[/caption]   You will have to plan every single detail. There are those situations that are completely out of your control and can make you look unprofessional. We were coming back from a weekend get away with the idea to have a call with an important candidate during a stop on a gas station. Our car broke down in the middle of highway. We had no signal, so we couldn't even let the candidate know we can't make it. We also didn't have water, but that's another story. (Please take lots of water when traveling by car).

The Loneliness

The downside to both freelance and remote positions is that people might get lonely or bored at some point. Luckily, these problems are easy to overcome. The trick is to maintain a high level of concentration and dose the amounts of other daily needs and interactions. It just takes time get used to working from home. Once you work out a strategy to be productive and don’t miss out on the fun stuff, you’ve got it all. You’ll do what you like and what you do best and be appreciated by your pen friend boss, even though you’re working from the living room couch with your socks turned inside out or from under a coconut tree. 

What’s your story? Would you be interested in working from home or from an unusual location you always wanted to visit? 

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I researched Applicant Tracking Systems (So you don’t have to)

Are you having hard time handling your talent pool and worried with upcoming GDPR? Then you probably tried to figure out which ATS would suit your needs. ATS stands for applicant tracking system and the idea behind this software is to automate company’s recruiting and staffing efforts, but also to manage candidate’s data. Handy little thing. The bad news for HR and PeopOps teams is there is a bunch of them (more than 300 in the market at the moment to be exact). Our team tends to move fast so we can keep our average time per hire at 2 weeks. From the moment we receive the job description to the moment a stressed manager starts thanking us, we only think about tracking our time and productivity. Staffing agencies use CRM’s and we couldn’t afford the whole team to do the research. The decision was I should do it. I’ve found an article named The top 100 ATS in 2018 . Oh, the excitement. 
 

I wanted to learn which ATS are the biggest sharks out there using.

Well, none of them. Google developed their own ATS product called Hire. The bad news is that this software is available only for companies that use G Suite and are based in US.  Facebook also developed CRM for their needs. This might not be the best solution for every company cause it takes up a lot of planning and resources if you want those cool features like video interviewing or employee referrals. We developed CRM for our needs and it’s far from perfect. It’s also far from cheap and we don’t even have “the cool features”. The truth is, most of the applicant tracking systems are built for small to mid sized businesses. Large organizations usually need more custom features and I figured Breezy has that option. Also comes with a “custom” price.

What happened when I used the ATS

I researched a bunch of them, but decided to write an overall review for just a few of the most popular ones. The most common elements are: career sites, applicant tracking, advanced search options, interviewing tools and analytics. 1. recruitee has career sites with customized application forms, you can even customize hiring workflow for each position. They also have this drag & drop option, which gives the user a nice kanban/trello feeling. Apart from the great UX, it offers a nice set of features for recruiting teams and integration with Slack. They listed pricing, so go check it out. 2. Workable says they are the most popular ATS, yet no pricing. The workflow is quite much the same as previous, it starts with a career site where applicants apply. Once they appear in your pipeline, each candidate will have their own profile. Workable has built in sourcing tool, based on booolean queries. Mobile apps available. 3. SmartRecruiters looks like pobresito comparing to the previous two. You'll find four tabs and for each job you'll have well drew up charts and data about the position. What I hated is how many pages I had to read to figure out what features this ATS has. KISS. 4. Zoho AKA the free one. There are actually two types, one for HR teams and one for staffing agencies. The free package for staffing agencies comes with Candidate Management, Career Website, Client & Contact Management, Email Management, Interview Scheduling and Job Posting Management. It is cloud based, offers integrations with social media, API or email, but it is provided only in Enterprise model. CV parsing also comes with few bugs. Much like others, you can customize ATS to your needs, migrate data etc. Does the trick for small recruitment teams. Bonus warning for recruiters: I noticed there are bunch of these charts, tracking your efforts. There are companies that are not able to meet their hiring needs due to different reasons. Seeing these charts might just motivate you to pursue your dream of being a farmer. I am kidding you not, I'm not even a recruiter and these things seem mean. (under pressure playing in background)

What to focus on when choosing an ATS

Social Media Sourcing

Copy/pasting a job offer to social media, and then adding a pic can be a drag. But, we’ve been used to doing it manually, and it gave results. What we’ve discovered is there are ATSs that allow you to connect your official LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter page to it, and to post your job opening through it. Due to instagram’s policies, we all still dwell in sort of a limbo where we have to manually post. However, three out of four doesn’t sound at all bad. Good example of this is zoho. It may not be included in a free pricing plan, but at the end of the day, the level of optimization is completely up to you, and ATS is there to help you optimize your process.

Posting to External Job Sites

This one is a no brainer. It is necessary for acquiring applicants, and possibly the applicant who will be just perfect for the job opening. Luckily enough, most ATS’s we’ve looked at have this option. This option adds an additional dimension of security and creates more confidence in applicants that you are offering a stable and reliable work. Zoho has a basic function for this in it’s free pricing plan, and recruitee and workable offer this option.

Compliance with local laws

Four letter everyone should pay attention to are GDPR. Fortunately, all ATSs we’ve reviewed disclose where data is stored, and how it is protected. A good example of ATS disclosing this information is recruitee. You might also want to research if and how taxes are applicable.

Mobile Capabilities

If you’re a small agency owner, and you’re on your feet most of your time, it’s very important, as it is to me, to be able to access and see where in the selection process the applicants are, on the move. Workable and SmartRecruiters both have apps that will provide you with necessary insight to see how your candidate is doing in the selection process.

What I learned losing my mind over this ATS madness 

1. It’s an absolute must have if you have a lot of applicants asking for internship opportunities; 2. It can improve candidate experience, you’ll send feedback right on time; 3. Most of this softwares rely on a “post and pray” strategy. Reality is that in IT recruiting - the best talent out there are passive candidates and won’t apply through your career page. You would have to add their info manually or ask them to fill in data. 4. … which also reminded me that if there is a fill out form with more than 3 questions, Seniors just ain’t gonna do it if they are not really into the position; 5. Some of them are really pricey and you will probably have to talk your CEO/CTO/CFO into it; 6. Design sells; 7. It really depends on the size and needs of the organization;

What are your experiences? Hit the comments.

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How to hire a suitable tech recruiter

You don’t have to be a recruiting expert or a hiring master mind to know there are certain rules and requirements that need to be obeyed and fulfilled in order to have a fully functional and above all motivated team. Welcoming new members aboard can get surprisingly difficult sometimes (even if you followed all the instruction and your instincts too). Recruitment agencies are there to help you avoid these situations, but you should acknowledge the fact they’re not unmistakable either.   The good news is that chances of having hiring doubts and problems can certainly be minimized (let’s not be pretentious and speak of completely eliminating these odds, at least for now). Good HR strategy can substitute the usage of crystal ball and help you spot potential problems before they actually occur.    And you’d need the right staff to create a successful staffing strategy. There’s a whole set of rules and distinctions when it comes to recruiters too.

What does it take to succeed as a tech recruiter?

  • Dedication with a dash of gazing 
First indicator of crafty (and hirable) IT recruiter is patience. Recruiting, when being done properly, requires time. If someone’s willing to tiptoe around a LinkedIn profile (and possibly around other social media profiles - no stalking potential intended), plus to be regularly checking out other platforms and sources, he might be a keeper. This patient tech recruiter will look into (almost) everything that can possibly be useful and found online. He’ll track down information about candidates (and clients when needed) and he’ll categorize it carefully and methodically.    Keeping colleagues in loop and keeping files, CVs, documents and information organized will contribute to success of the whole team involved in recruiting and hiring (no matter how big or small the team might be). Even if there’s one single recruiter working for you, his behavior and competence (or the lack of it) might easily effect the entire company.    So - Don’t choose a sloppy recruiter, he’s almost destined to mix up names and available positions and the next thing you know – you’re hiring a Senior Ancient Greek Satyr (priceless for development of 5th century B.C. theater but inexplicably bad if you’re developing a team of IT experts).    And here’s the thing – every recruiter should examine those professional (and/or social) networks. But he has to know about boundaries and make sure never to cross certain lines.   
  • The thin line between being thorough and plain scary 
The worst case scenario – a recruiter being desperate and needy. If a recruiter messes up big time and confuses a bunch of stuff, or seriously mispronounces some names and tech terms – there’s still a possibility they’ll miraculously manage to persuade a developer into considering their job offer. However, being winy or tedious will surely get them a one way ticket to “seen”.     If you’re looking to hire a tech recruiter, make sure he knows how to deal with deadlines, stress and ultimately – each recruiter must know how to communicate and distinguish persistence from perpetual, compulsive texting. The kind of individual that’s willing to exchange quality for quantity is very much likely to send texts without true substance (which will lead to extremely poor response rate, and then back to more pointless texting).   Yes, recruitment gets difficult sometimes, the market keeps getting more competitive and everyone’s in a hurry to hire. But this is no excuse for anyone to come off as borderline obsessive. Following up every now and then is a must, just make sure they know the frequency limit before they end up characterized as literal head-hunters.   (x) Cold-calling is out of the question. (x) Emailing or texting until you’re blocked, banned, or ostracized are not allowed. (x) Generic texts and copy-paste messages aren’t welcome. (x) Irrelevant information and redundancy are inadequate and will most likely be ignored.  
  • The importance of questions and coffee
Recruiter is indirectly taking part in your employer branding. This is the person that should represent your company with all its’ values. They need to be fully aware of the priorities and they should be asking questions about basically everything.   

Be specific about what truly matters so they can spread the word. 

Let’s imagine for a moment you’re contemplating a career change. You’re receiving some offers and this really poetic text hits your mailbox. You’re being informed about some utopia among IT companies, everyone there has some cool Tolkien - like title and they’re all having so much coffee you can’t help but wonder if the job’s actually on a plantation.  Feeling special because you received an offer like this yet? Of course not, you know better. So does a (potentially) good recruiter.  

Attention, employers! Do not withhold information from our fellow recruiter.

If the employer (or some other person in charge) doesn’t provide a recruiter with the necessary information, the result might sound like random babbling about unicorns, rock stars, vegan burgers etc.   

Recruiter needs to be all about the questions. 

And they need to be well informed and up to date. You should be looking for a tech oriented HR enthusiast who’s asking the right kind of questions and who’s able to correctly rank benefits from “very important” to “wow, look – a doormat that glows in the dark”. It’s easy to spot a person who’s eager to learn and develop new skills. Successful recruitment has very little to do with seniority itself sometimes. Have this in mind while hiring:
Experience does not necessarily equal the amount of time spent doing something.
They should be asking significant questions, and so should you. 
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5 simple Interview Etiquette Rules

Interviews have become inevitable parts of hiring process in basically every domain nowadays. When it comes to tech oriented companies and IT experts, this whole hiring process usually consists in two separate types of question sections. Recruiting and staffing companies or HR departments and in-house HR managers often represent the initial part of this procedure.

 

There’s more to recruitment than checking out LinkedIn profiles, collecting CV’s and making developers count tennis balls in an imaginary school bus. These interviews should be carefully prepared with the idea to provide and collect all of the relevant information – from and to both ends. Both sides are entitled to be properly introduced to each other and that makes this hiring chapter significant.

 

There are a few pretty simple rules that can be applied to various situations and sections of daily working life, and everyone seems to be forgetting about those rules every now and then. These seemingly small gestures and tiny inadequacies can make a big impact sometimes, especially if they coincide with a job interview.

 

1. First impression – Avoid cases of mistaken identities and typos

Before a candidate officially arrives to the interview, some emailing is unavoidable – there must be at least a brief invite and confirmation involved. Someone might be in a hurry or someone might lack the concentration for only a moment, and it’s when Murphy’s Law kicks in and creates cringe worthy texts.

 

IT recruiters have a lot on their hands and on their minds. It’s easy to make a simple mistake and send out a wrong message.

 
  • One of the most common mistakes is typing in a wrong name. There are numerous reasons for this to happen and it can actually be perfectly understandable in some, if not the majority of cases. But the cold harsh fact is that if a recruiter makes this sort of a mistake, there’s an insanely high percent of chance that a developer will rather change his name than agree to change his job.
 

And yes, this addressing malfunction is usually presumed as a typical copy-paste syndrome and recruiters can be scolded to infinity and beyond when something like this occurs. But it’s a two way street and this goes out for everyone: Dear Recruiters and other tech and non-tech people, double check your texts before sending them. It’s cool to take a moment and make sure you’ve got everything right.

 
  • This double checking also implies typos and similar errors, disastrous products of autocorrect, grammar-nazi-proofing your emails etc. So sit back and take a quick glance at what you wrote.
 

2. Punctuality – First impression, part two

Once you’ve said yes to a meeting, make sure to arrive on time. This might easily seem like the most evident fact ever, but it somehow manages to become an obstacle in the most inconvenient moment. Calculate and recalculate the route you’re planning to use. Be careful when scheduling – think of the first step and double check your calendar, reminder, alarm clock, that one colleague that always remembers stuff, notebooks, agendas, or a fortune teller if necessary.

 

Knowing the value of time should be number one on everyone’s list of priorities. Not being able to achieve a goal or fulfil a task successfully within a previously agreed time frame can be interpreted as disrespect. It’s the same with showing up late at an appointment. And if that appointment happens to be a job interview – you’re a very unlikely candidate to be taken seriously. If you’re the person in charge of conducting the interview, well you’re just about equally doomed. Time quotes are related to way too many clichés, but time does need to be treated as one of the most valuable resources.

 

3. Dressed to recruit!

Another variable you should count in when having an interview (or a business meeting) is the appearance. Many IT and Recruiting companies, typically small businesses and small and/or remote staffing companies are about the laid back approach. It means flexibility in more than one aspect, and it surely means casual slash non existing dress code. But meeting a new client, business partner or employee could entail a new set of the rules.

 

Large IT companies or small IT companies with the tendency to appreciate suits and ties can hire (for example) a remote HR team. They might need sourcing or end-to-end recruiting services. And the team they’re looking to hire must fulfill the certain requirements regarding HR solutions and recruiting skills, but to them it’s also important to maintain the certain image.

 

Make no mistake – dressing for the occasion isn’t about the style itself, it’s about showing interest in a company’s culture. It’s being respectful. It’s also a part of necessary background checking.

 

So if you come from the track suit and yoga pants friendly working environment or from a remote job, take a good look at what’s appreciated in the company you’re paying a visit.

 

4. Did someone say background checking?

Each HR manager and IT recruiter should know the importance of assembling facts and information while doing their sourcing sorcery thing. They do need to keep track of literally everything regarding a hiring process – collecting and saving info, keeping colleagues in loop and sharing data.

 

And every tech recruitment agency must have its own system to preserve information and contacts. Recruiters are ought to use all sorts of tools in order to easily find details they need at any given time – documents, spreadsheets, etc. But it’s equally or more important to gather facts in the first place.

 

An HR must be thoroughly prepared for the interview. It does mean to have a good look at the CV, business and social media network profiles of a candidate etc. But it also requires some extra time to look up the company he’s currently working in or the last job he has had.

 

It would raise the right questions and hence lead to relevant answers – the recruiter will actually get to know about the candidate and his goals and values. This kind of approach might give the interview a much needed friendly factor and it would shift its concept from questionnaire-like form to an actual conversation.

Which leads us to the next subject.

 

5. How many golf balls can fit into an angry developer?

As we just established – inducing the right questions is the proper way to conduct an interview. What really matters is…

Well, it’s personal. It’s individual. It’s changeable. It depends on numerous factors.

And you, fellow recruiters, should hear all about it. Rather than asking textbook questions let the candidates speak their mind. Be genuine and kind of spontaneous.

OK, we need to face one fact – some of those “typical HR questions” are actually a must. No one is particularly impressed by them, but some bits of interviews have their purpose and should be accepted as such – less than fun but more than obligatory.

 

Asking these questions about someone’s actual aspirations and intentions will give a recruiter the insight in what might interest a candidate. And his preferences are mainly not about the new coffee machine or a possibility of beer pong tournament. 

 

Tell them about some truly good, and we’re speaking LONG TERM good stuff your client or employee has to offer.

 

Members of remote HR solutions teams or IT recruiting agencies need to go an extra mile in order to become deeply familiar with all of their clients’ requirements and with their goals and plans. And their clients must be aware of this and keep them posted and well informed.

 

These are some fundamental methods and tricks a successful recruitment strategy should consist of. We’d be happy to hear and/or say more about this subject. Let us know what you find significant and let’s do our best to improve hiring process.

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