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Five ways to secure talent for your start-up on a tiny budget

Five ways to secure talent for your start-up on a tiny budget

Imagine you’re managing a complex web project, requiring hundreds of new pages and serious coding and creative work, and you’re facing a tight deadline. Your in-house team is already at full capacity on other tasks. And, just to tie the other hand behind your back, you don’t have the budget to bring on more full-time staff. Would you know where to go, how to find the right people, the smartest approaches to vet them, and the best ways to get them started quickly?

If not–and if you knew her–you’d probably call Wendy Campanella. She’s been called a “Start-up Marine,” and entrepreneurs call on her regularly to help with tricky business problems. One of her secrets, which she’ll share with you below, is building top-quality “flex teams” quickly–even with a very limited budget and tight timeline.

Wendy has leveraged her flex-team strategy to launch the first all-online tradeshow for the semiconductor industry (back in the Internet’s pre-crash days) and the first in-flight Internet portal to let passengers access the web on a commercial flight. Currently she’s building another first-of-its-kind web service, ImpressMe.com, a video-centric product comparison site for consumers in the research phase of a purchase.

In each case, Wendy has managed to create a successful product, within the timeframe allotted, within or even under her budget. How the heck does she do that? Good question! Here is her first secret:

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I like to iterate between the high-level vision and the execution. I develop a concept of the execution strategy, then test the details, adjusting to what’s working and what’s not. This means that my talent requirements change a lot, especially at the start.

As I refine my strategy, I incorporate critical or exceptional talent into my core team, mating it with my ‘flex team,’ for which I place very descriptive requests for proposals on the right talent sites. The right resource is out there, but connecting with it can be a challenge.”

Here Wendy tells us the five resources she uses most often to build effective flex teams quickly.

1. GetFriday

This India-based outsourcing firm bills itself as a “remote executive assistant service.”

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I’ve had great luck using GetFriday for relatively simple ongoing processes like data mining and web research.

When a project involves tasks that need to be done over and over–such as tracking down product data sheets across many companies, when that information is entirely decentralized and takes real digital shoe-leather–GetFriday is an excellent resource.

They can help you with ongoing tasks, like gathering data on your customers or competitors, for example, and organizing that data into an actionable format. Once you’ve educated them on what you need, they’re very strong at executing–and also at training their own staff on what you need, if they need to assign new personnel to your account.”

2. oDesk

This freelance job site offers talent in a number of disciplines–coders, designers, writers and even virtual assistants similar to the service offered by GetFriday.

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WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I use oDesk primarily for their web-development talent, and I have had great experiences with them. You can search for talent by specific skills–Python or PHP, for example–and by geography, if language is a concern.

And here’s a useful tip: If you’re not a developer yourself, make sure you include your development team in the selection and management of this outside resource. They’ll get you to the best talent much faster.”

3. eLance

Like oDesk, eLance is a freelance job site, although with a broader range of freelance talent–including creatives and developers, but also financial, legal and customer service resources.

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “I’ve had a lot of luck finding writing talent on eLance. What I do is look for writers with a passion for the subject matter. With 250,000 freelance writers listed on the site, I can always find people who can write well and who really know and care about the topic on which I’m looking for content.”

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4. Fiverr

Describing itself as “the world’s largest marketplace for services, starting at five dollars,” Fiverr offers freelance talent that is extremely inexpensive.

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “Fiverr is a great testing resource. If I think I want to outsource some sort of content creation —  articles, video scripts, voice-over talent, info graphics and even icon development — I start here. I quickly learn what works and what doesn’t before I spend a lot of money acquiring ongoing talent. Sometimes I get a few useful gems in the process. And even if it falls short, it hasn’t cost me more than a few dollars to try.”

5. Interns

WENDY CAMPANELLA: “This is perhaps my favorite resource, particularly for the video talent I’m using to build our product-comparison service, ImpressMe. Here’s why.

If you have a business or project that requires creatives–especially video, but also other skills like writing or graphic design–it’s important to keep in mind that the colleges and universities that teach these skills often require internships to graduate.

Film schools, for example, often require hundreds of hours of interning at a business. These students have real video skills, and they come to you with high-end equipment from their schools that would cost you a small fortune to buy yourself. And the best part: They want to do a great job for you, because they’re graded in part on your review of their work. Everybody wins!”

Featured photo credit: Navy SEALS/Rennett Stowe via flickr.com

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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