30 Jun 2020
How to Get a Job at a Remote Company
What better way to learn about how to get a job at a remote company than gaining an insight into how a successful remote company hires? We were fortunate enough to have Nat Eliason of Growth Machine sit down with our team and discuss how he assesses potential new team members. Nat manages a remote team of over 20 and it’s continuing to grow. He broke down his three-step hiring process to help candidates who are applying for jobs at early-stage remote companies like his.
Seeing his process and understanding what he and his team are looking for and assessing can help you improve your job applications, and increase your chances of landing your next remote job.
Growth Machine’s Three-Part Hiring Process:
Nat Eliason (above) is the founder of Growth Machine. He was kind enough to breakdown his hiring process to help candidates who want to get a job at an early-stage remote company.
Part 1: The Application
The hiring starts with a job listing and an application form. Your resume and answers to the application are what will get you through the door in the first place.
The application form is used to look for these qualifications:
- Minimum Skills
- Ability to Work Independently
- Results from Previous Work
- Can Improve Processes
- Personality and Culture Fit
Here’s a breakdown on the qualifications Nat and his team are seeking:
Nat and his team are checking the resumes and the applications for credentials that immediately relate to the role. For example, when they’re hiring for a Head of Content position, they are looking for someone with blog writing and content planning experience, SEO knowledge, and management experience. When applying, you must demonstrate you have the skills their team is looking for. Put these at the top of your resume so whoever is assessing your application can immediately know you meet the skills requirement.
Ability to Work Independently
The Growth Machine team is looking for independent remote work competence. In other words, they want candidates who don’t have to be micromanaged. This is an important attribute remote companies are seeking when hiring. They want professionals who know how to be effective when working independently. Nat and his team will look for indicators such as self-directed side projects and good working practices. As Nat puts it, ‘We’re looking for someone who can work on their own and get results.’ Remote employers are looking for professionals who can create ‘office time’ and know how to work professionally in whatever context they choose.
Results from Previous Work
The Growth Machine team needs to see hard numbers. They’re looking for the results of your previous work. For young remote companies, years of experience are not as important as the fruits of your labor. They are more interested in a candidate who has three years of experience and can elaborate on the impact and effectiveness of their work as opposed to someone who has 10 years of experience but is not able to document their results.
Nat says, ‘People stand out by showing they can do the work better and more effectively.’
Think about demonstrating your work not in terms of hours but in metrics of output. Most small teams are looking for self-starting, entrepreneurial-minded candidates who will figure out how to do the work better, if possible, as well as knowing what parts of their work are the most effective and valuable for the company.
Nat is looking for candidates who are able to make tasks more efficient and have taken it upon themselves to save time and improve processes. Small companies need team members who have improved systems, added automation, and eliminated manual tasks. Professionals who have investigated and then instigated time-saving measures, can systemize, or were able to outsource are attractive candidates. Nat wants to know, ‘Were you able to implement Google Scripts or use Zapier to automate your previous work?’
The team communicates almost exclusively through text and they’re looking for someone who can convey their personality through that medium. The way you write and craft your application should show that you’re a person that they’d want to get to know better. An application that is dull and robotic sounding is a red flag for their team. Nat recommends having someone review your application before submitting it. He says, ‘Have a friend check it over to see if you sound fun and interesting.’
Part 2: The Challenge
Once you’ve passed part 1, you’ll be invited to complete ‘a challenge’. The purpose of the challenge is to find the distinction between what you’ve said you can do and what you can really do. Growth Machine makes the challenge related to the job you’re applying to. For example, when applying for a Head of Content Marketing role, you may be challenged to create a content plan and conduct keyword research.
Nat says, ‘There’s a learning process for any new team member but we want to see who took the time to understand our business and has good intuition of what is expected for the role.’
The challenge allows the team to see how the candidates actually work rather than just being qualified on paper. The team is also watching for who is imaginative, responsive, and communicating well. The tone and attitude given through email conversations are important.
One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is with the final presentation of their finished work. After you complete the challenge, take a few extra minutes to make it look good. Formating it into a deck or document, instead of just adding it into the body of an email, will go a long way.
Part 3: The Interview
If you pass the challenge, it’s time for an interview. The interview will further judge your qualification and personality fit. The Growth Machine team will do some ‘pressure testing’ and will want you to explain your work. They’ll also be paying attention to your personality and they’ll be looking to see if you’re the right fit for the company culture. Nat says, ‘We want to make sure you’d be someone who is fun and would fit into our weekly meetings.’
During the interview is also when the salary expectation will come in. As mentioned before, working in a remote company means result-focused work. Nat says, ‘I’m most interested in what someone thinks their work is worth, and if they can back that up.’ To nail the interview and become their next hire, the qualification of the work must be proven, the salary expectations should be justified, and the personality should fit the company culture.
Length of the Process
From posting the job to extending the offer to the successful candidate, the whole process takes about 4 weeks for Growth Machine. The time invested by a successful candidate will be about 5-7 hours.
The application should take candidates about 30 minutes. The Growth Machine team tries to respond to the initial applicants within a week.
This part takes the most time. This can take about a week of coordinating between Growth Machine and the candidates, and then 2-3 hours for each candidate to complete.
After completion and assessment of the challenges, the Growth Machine team spends about a week arranging the interviews. The candidates chosen for interviews will have two and each one will be about an hour long.
Special Arrangements for New Hires
Growth Machine sometimes makes special arrangements for the right hire. Nat knows that flexibility on payment arrangements and working hours can be beneficial to relationships with employees. For example, if a candidate is bringing a lot to the table, he’s willing to start them at a limited capacity, if that’s what they’d like. If the company can’t meet the salary expectations right away, they’re usually willing to make a plan to move in that direction. For example, if the company can only match 75% of the candidate’s salary expectation, they’ll start at that point and increase the salary as the company grows.
Growth Machine doesn’t require a video introduction from candidates in the initial application. Almost all the communication the team does internally is over text so the most important thing is ensuring the candidate can properly express themself in this format.
Cold Outreach from Candidates
When applying to a job, it can be unclear whether or not a candidate should reach out to the company outside of the application. Nat appreciates when potential candidates reach out with a cold email respectfully. Cold outreach from a candidate must give additional context and show a specific interest in the role. Nat and his team do not appreciate emails from candidates seeking more attention or special treatment.
Nat says, “A bad way to reach out to me is to say, ‘Let’s hop on the phone. What’s your availability?’ Don’t ask me to hop on the phone but instead, show me why we should hop on the phone.”
Thank you again to Nat Eliason, founder of Growth Machine, for spending the time to share his hiring process. This breakdown of how he and his team hire should be useful to any candidate who is looking to get a job at a remote company, especially an early-stage remote company.
Remember, to get a job at a remote company, you must demonstrate:
- Knowledge and expertise
- Ability to work remotely and independently
- Experience systemizing and improving process
- Past results and the impact of your work
- Culture fit
Want to continue improving your chances of landing a remote job?
Here are some more resources to help you improve your job applications: