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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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5 secrets to great management

Being a good manager is not an easy task. You have a lot thing to wrap your mind around, you have a lot of different aspects to think from… and you still need to make sure everyone is feeling good and happy, the work is being done and the company is growing. There is no secret recipe that will help you become a perfect manager over night, but there are some tips that can help you a lot, especially if you’re in the beginning of your career as a leader. It all comes down to trial and error, being adaptive, communicating and always finding a good balance. Here are 5 secrets to great management!

Be both supportive and supported

It’s equally important that you are both supportive and supported. And somehow, during a busy work day or a hectic and stressful period we tend to forget this, especially the second one. Being supportive means that you need to be there for your team, and in a crisis you’re focusing on solutions for the problems, rather than finding who to blame. It means having a mindset where you keep challenging and supporting your colleagues so that they grow both professionally and personally. Being supported means that you also need some help (and it is totally ok). Being supported means passing on some of your activities like doing research, scheduling or attending certain meetings, training other staff members, hiring… and also having a network you can rely on. You cannot be a lone wolf and a good leader at the same time.

Don’t be negative, but be realistic

It is crucial not to have a negative, blaming mindset and perspectives when it comes to work. You should be focused on solutions, rather than blaming someone. Having said that, you also need to be very realistic, set clear goals and KPIs. Even when it comes to firing people, when it’s necessary, you can keep your focus on still be positive while doing the right thing by letting them go.

Good leadership is a good communication

Good communication is one of the most important things for a healthy organisation. You have to make sure that all the information is communicated well, you have to make sure that all that is communicated is understood and you have to also think about communication channels - how can they be improved?

Track, document, evaluate and always be innovative

A lot of managers, and a lot of good managers, often go with the guts. This is sometimes necessary and can be a good quality, but it is also not (always) an ideal solution. Sometimes, your gut feeling can be completely off and it can lead to taking bad decisions. That’s why it is crucial to track and document everything. After it’s documented, you should evaluate, even when, for instance, a project is well done, you should evaluate. Could it be even better? And where is the space for improvement? Try to think out of the box and be as innovative as possible, questioning everything and always trying to find better solutions.

Be adaptive

As a manager, you will need to have to adapt to different challenges in a timely manner. That’s why you need to have an open mind and be as flexible as possible. You will need to adapt the way you communicate with each of your staff members and colleagues. You will need to adapt the way you and your team do the things to the different challenges and daily changes that can occur. A good management is a lot like a dance, you constantly need to find a good rhythm.
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