TMBA593: How to Get a Great Remote Job

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We’ve been seeing some truly explosive growth at Dynamite Jobs since the start of 2021, and we’ve been helping more businesses than ever find great remote talent for their teams.

When our friend Brendan Tully reached out to us on Twitter recently with some suggestions on how we could help candidates find better jobs, we knew we had to talk to him.

Brendan is the CEO and founder of Robotmedia, which helps small businesses get more traffic and better conversions.

He has been doing quite a bit of hiring recently, and has developed some strong opinions about the hiring process, particularly in how we can better educate job prospects who are applying for remote positions.

Brendan joins us today to talk about what he looks for when browsing candidate resumes, what a great resume looks like, and what he believes candidates can do to have a better chance of getting a quality remote job.

See the full transcript below

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • The biggest challenges that Robotmedia is facing today. (3:08)
  • Some key insights on turning a six-figure business into a seven-figure one. (14:09)
  • The first thing Brendan looks for when reviewing an application. (27:43)
  • What a great resume really looks like. (36:47)
  • The biggest mistakes we’ve seen candidates make at Dynamite Jobs. (51:36)

Mentioned in the episode:

Before the Exit – Our New Book
Partner With Us
The Dynamite Circle
Dynamite Jobs
Dynamite Deals
Tropical MBA on YouTube
Post a Remote Job
Dynamite Jobs – Remote Recruiting Sales Page
Let’s Talk High-Level Podcast Strategy for 1 Hour
Brendan Tully
Robotmedia
WP Speed Fix
ContentPros.io
The next frontier after remote work is async 

Enjoyed this podcast? Check out these:

TMBA305: Building Teams of A Players
TMBA384: Are You an Imposter?
TMBA444: When Should I Hire?

This week’s sponsor:

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Dynamite Job’s Done-for-You Recruitment Service.

If you run a growing seven or eight-figure remote company, your next productive team member could be just one simple phone call away.

Our recruiting services are designed to save weeks or even months of your own effort in the hiring process. While we’re finding your next dream team member, you can avoid the ‘job board grind’ and ‘hiring hustle’ to instead focus on building a better business.

The process starts with a free, no-obligation call with one of our senior recruiters. We’ll then go out and execute the entire job search on your behalf. The job will be marketed to thousands of candidates, the applications will be filtered down, the talent will be interviewed, and you’ll receive the top picks hand-delivered.

Hiring can be a total pain but the team at Dynamite Jobs is doing it successfully and efficiently every day. Schedule a call with their team and learn more here.

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Have comments about the show?

Do you have ideas for things you’d like Dan and Ian to discuss on future episodes?

Our producer Jane would love to hear from you at [email protected] or leave us a voice message using the record button below.

 

 

Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Dan & Ian

 


 

Full Transcript

Dan: Happy Thursday morning, today’s show is inspired by a Twitter response. Someone added me at TropicalMBA and wrote this: “Dude, you need to do a podcast episode for Dynamite Jobs candidates on how to apply for a job and make a resume that sells. It hurts my heart, seeing bad resumes that sell poorly. Fix this problem. And my Dynamite Jobs experience as an employer is two to five times better”.

I’ve got to point out, as a business owner, we do have some products that solve this problem, including filtering, done for you, all that kind of stuff. All that said, this hurts my heart too. Part of the reason we made candidate profiles, and we’re just taking stabs at it. But I believe in the potential of every candidate to do a better job, to have a better chance to get their dream remote job. So in the second half of today’s episode, we’re going to go through some of the specifics of what great resumes look like. I think even for the business owners out there, there’ll be some value in that for you.

So that tweeter is longtime entrepreneur and DC member Brendan Tully. And he’s been doing a lot of hiring recently. So I thought it’d be interesting to get him back on the show and talk about what makes a good application, both for applicants and owners. But I just want to do a general catch up because I’ve always had so many great in person conversations with Brendan, I thought we’d do it here live for you today.

And that’s especially interesting to me today, because the path that Brendon’s been on is one that Ian and myself are on today, you know, going from a six figure run rate to a seven figure one, and making that transition and looking to the future and dealing with all the challenges that come with that. It’s a shift of mindset, practices, your team composition is different, your product looks different. So I’m going to get Brendan’s thoughts about that, and then Ian and I will chime in, in the middle of the episode, to give some of our reflections. But let’s start with Brennan’s at. So he’s the founder and CEO of ‘Robot Media’, which has a few brands underneath it, which helps small businesses get more traffic and better conversions.

So in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about products that fit under that Robot Media umbrella, including SEO consulting, WordPress hosting and speed optimisation at WP Speed Fix, which he started just three years ago, and now has around 11 team members. So I kicked off by asking Brendan why WP Speed Fix has become his priority, and also about some of the challenges he’s facing.

Brendan: I turned 40 last year and one thing that I’m bad at is, you know, this hustle thing. So I’m trying not to hustle or work hard. I’m trying to do the hard thinking. So for the next decade, I’m like, ‘hard thinking and better decisions beats hard work every time’, almost every time. So I’m really trying to focus on being smarter strategically and making better decisions. Some of those are scary – just committing to a path that you can’t reverse out of, that’s going to require a lot of capital or or it’s going to affect the team or whatever. Because we have 10 or 11 people now, so you make a bad decision and we potentially have to let people go if you can’t afford to pay them. So some of those things are hard. And I don’t have a business partner like you, which I do miss. I have had business partners in the past, it’s hard not having someone to bounce those ideas off or be in the trenches with. In some ways it’s a lot easier when you’ve got someone there who’s kind of in the shit with you.

Dan: Brendan, you ran an agency, you still run an agency. for a very long time. I’m curious, all the time on this show we talk about some of the challenges of running an agency, we often reflect that, it requires best entrepreneurs to run an agency, because there are so many skills, the operation has to be changing all the time, you have to have high sales skills typically, you have to have high technical skills that got you in the game in the first place. Do you relate to those problems, having done it yourself for over a decade?

Brendan: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard when you see, I guess, guys who, you know, run an FBA business, they start it and three years later, they’re exiting for big multiples. It’s tough sometimes with a service business to pull yourself out of it. One thing I find with a service business is that it needs a lot of that, like you call it a shower thinking time, I think is what you call it, something like that. That really high quality thinking and those insights that you can’t kind of brute force like, again, coming back to hard thinking, I think in a service business that requires a lot more of that a lot more of the time like that. That I find quite challenging, and the market moves over time as well.

I am involved in some other businesses, some product businesses, and you can kind of forget about them for six months, and they’ll run themselves. Whereas I don’t think you can do that with a service business, it’s always there. I think that’s one of the hardest things. It’s not just ‘set and forget’. And you’re right, there are a lot of errors you have to be across. But it also, I guess, for me, I’ve done it so long, I think I started my first business in 1999. So I’ve been doing this for 22 years. So I think some of it is habit, some of it I’m addicted to, of solving the problems as well.

Dan: It really feels like WP fix is this classic, kind of, you’re pulling out like this highly focused vertical that you would have done in an agency context. And now you’re presenting it as a productized service. I’m just curious about how that ‘aha moment’ came about because it does seem like it’s doing really well for you.

Brendan: Well, I don’t know if there’s any aha moments. I’ve only fairly recently ,in the last 12-18 months, taken it seriously after kind of neglecting it. And it just kept growing. It’s a productized service, which is a lot easier than straight consulting, I still have corporate consulting clients, and basically they’re paying for that high quality output and they’re paying for you. That’s just straight services, straight consulting services, it’s higher dollars per hour, but it’s still services. Whereas something like WP Speed Fix it is very productized. And it’s gone through different versions, it used to be way more productized. It used to be a simple checklist. And now it’s moving back towards consulting. And that’s kind of one of the challenges we’re having right now is, how do we charge more for the service or make more margin, but yeah, the prioritised service nature of it makes it a lot more appealing than just straight agency work or straight consulting. So I guess that’s why I’ve stuck with it. And we did a rebrand or we built a new site at the start of December, we pushed it live three days before Christmas, actually. And at 3X, the lead conversion rate, like two days before Christmas, which continued on, and Scott who handles the sales inquiries went on holidays, so that wasn’t great timing. And it is attractive, like the productized nature makes it very attractive.

Dan: So many, so many of us listening to our service entrepreneurs. And this is like a dream scenario you’re outlining here that you’ve identified, it kind of feels like you could while you’re in your agency boat, you could put a bunch of bait in the water behind you sort of thing?

Brendan: Yes, I wrote a blog post about site speed. So anytime that I have a conversation more than a couple of times, I’ll typically aim to put up some content for it so I don’t have to have that conversation again. And then I can just, you know, reply with ‘Hey, go check this out’. And actually I did a podcast with 100 episodes that we don’t do anymore. But the whole reason why we started that is because we used to do these workshops and training in person, which would answer all those questions, and we stopped doing the workshops. So then we decided to do a podcast to kind of answer those questions in audio format. I got asked this about site speed all the time, I had a very simple way of fixing it, I put up a blog post, people started emailing more and more about it. So we put up a contact form with a ‘Buy’ button. People started buying it, and then it just evolved from there. So I guess, I had unique insights and a unique way of attacking this problem or dealing with this problem. If there’s something you feel you have a unique perspective or insights on or something that’s, you know, contrary to what’s out there in the the general blogosphere or or whatever online, then, you know, putting out some content, podcasts, whatever, and just testing the waters, see if it gets traction.

Dan: You mentioned you were facing some challenges, maybe let us know some of what they are and how you’re thinking through them?

Brendan: One challenge right now is we’re basically selling hours in a fancy way, so we’re bundling together some kind of unique processes that we’ve built over time with some hours and we’re selling that, it’s still just selling hours. So that’s problematic because there’s a scale problem there. There are only so many hours you can buy and sell. You sell more stuff, you need more hours to sell, which means you need bigger teams. Right now it can only really scale linearly or like maybe there’s you know we can use software a bit to to kind of you know deal with more clients for less staff but it’s still we’re selling time. So that’s one issue. And then the one time nature of the business is also problematic because every sale, a large number of the sales need a salesperson, so we actually need to deal with an inquiry sell someone and they give us money and then then we’re done whereas if we had some sort of recurring revenue service we could sell one time and then potentially get paid for years. Which is really like a customer lifetime value thing as well. So those are probably the two things I’m dealing with. We have some recurring products but it’s not really our focus right now, so getting that dialled in and not selling just out hours, not just being a fancy way to sell hours or time or whatever.

And there are some projects in process – so offering hosting, a lot of those customers just need better hosting and that configured properly so that’s one way to solve that problem. I’m having some back and forth internally about how do we sell seo services to these guys that don’t .. So one problem with selling SEO Services is, with SEO, you can do a bunch of work and actually go backwards. So that’s hard when you’re selling a productised service, because you actually have real costs that time and hours and people. So you need to have some predictability in there.

Dan: It’s hard to … Like one of the techniques I’ve seen brought up on the show a few times, that I’m always impressed by, is when productized services attach their price to a deliverable rather than a result. So Tommy Joiner’s old business Content Pros that I would just sell the blog posts, but not the results that the blog posts were coming from.

Brendan: The problem with SEO Services is you cannot control the outcome. Like Google changes the algo. And you know, all of a sudden, the site tanks, even though you’ve put hundreds of hours of work into it. So that’s definitely challenges with selling something like SEO Services, whereas like, if you sell paid traffic, you pay money, you get traffic, something happens, you actually get some sort of result, even though you might not get any sales, but you’re getting traffic. So there’s a lot more predictability there. You know what your cost base is roughly and how much margin you can make off that and so forth. I want to offer SEO services in a way we can definitely do it, we have a product that would work, but just packaging that so it’s commercial, and we don’t get stuck in this scenario where we’re on the hook for hundreds of hours of labour, without making any money off that. That’s something that we’re still working out. So

Dan: I realised, you know, when I took a look at our hiring services is that, because we had, I thought our like hygiene was too good in terms of – we weren’t failing enough for our clients. So in other words, like, we would only take clients that we knew we could crush it for. And I was kind of like, no if you fail, like 15-20% of the time, like half the time something good happens instead. And then half the time you like, learn something important. And then you work that into your overall margin. So you look at it 0 you figure out the cost basis of your entire clientele, rather than like one client dictating what you do kind of thing. So that’s one thing we’ve been kind of flirting with, but it’s tough.

Brendan: So what’s a fail for you? What does that mean? When you say fail? You don’t hire, you do a six week recruitment thing. And ..

Dan: In our case, it would be like somebody coming to us with expectations, like ‘I want this type of person, in this country, here’s the salary’, and like, our whole team’s kind of like, ‘Oh, no’. What should we do in that situation? Like, we could try to do it. And, you know, I learned this from my business mentor, like, he would just say yes to everything.

Brendan: That’s my problem too, for sure. We can sell that and just figure it out later. But I think that works well at the start, or when you’re being scrappy, or small. But once you get to 20 staff, I think that’s going to be a bit of a nightmare for them. You might love it as a salesperson or business owner, but I think that’s problematic when you get employees. They’re like, ‘I hate working for this guy’.

Dan: A lot of people listening to this Brendan run six figure service businesses, ones with a couple adjacent staff members. And they make a good income for themselves. But they don’t quite have that seven figure organisation that you’ve built. I’m curious if you could identify some of the key things that they ought to be thinking about to get to a seven figure level.

Brendan: It’s fundamentally a different business. Snd this is kind of like we’re straddling both worlds at the moment where part of the business where I’m totally in and sucked into. And then other parts that it’s like, you have to have the CEO hat on and have to be really strict about, ‘I don’t do that, the customer is going to have to wait, that fires gonna have to burn until one of the one of the staff can deal with it’. So it’s kind of like, you can have a comfortable business and make a few 100 grand a year. And then to really move up, you know, to make seven or eight figures, you have to be that kind of CEO role. You can’t be doing the work. One of the problems I have, like is exactly the problem you’ve described in the past, then I can do the work. And that’s a problem because I have a tendency to jump in. Whereas I should really hand it off to one of the staff, I’m like, ‘Just like, just this one time’, and then two or three hours later, I’m still knee deep in sorting something out for a client and doing it myself. So yeah, it’s really like it’s a different role. The short answer there is, it’s a completely different job running a seven or eight figure business to having a few 100 grand a year as a service provider.

I think one of the hard parts about running a bigger business is you have to be mindful of not just saying yes to everything. You have to say no sometimes, even though you want to be like, ‘Let’s try this’, because you got to consider margins. And if you can actually do it, you got to pay staff to do it. Is it profitable? Are you gonna make margin from it? Do you end up with just 100, like, broken different ways of doing it, rather than one just cohesive product or productised service that you’re making consistent margin from all the time? That’s a hard tendency to break as someone who sells or runs a business. I think that for me, that’s really tough, because I’m just like, ‘Yeah, we can do all that’. And it’s like, some custom weird thing, that there’s no process for it. And that’s a problem.

Dan: I think about that a lot, too. Because like, now, all of a sudden, you’re you’re kind of starting to pilot a larger ship. So I’ve been feeling sort of the things you’re describing now where, personally, I can kind of do a bunch of different projects, but as a business owner I can’t reorient everybody, every couple weeks all the time. So I’ve been finding myself saying things like, ‘I know something needs to be done about x. But I’m gonna shelve it until q4, because we’re just gonna stay focused on this revenue stream or whatever’.

Brendan: I think that’s the reason – we have friends that have sold big businesses and made a lot of money and they go back to zero because they like that stage. ‘I invented this thing from scratch’. Like I think that’s definitely a thing. That and it’s like the classic like, the founder isn’t necessarily the person who should be running the business as a grows, kind of thing. So, yeah, I think it’s definitely a thing for sure.

Dan: The whole reason that we gave Brennan a buzz here today is to talk about the aforementioned job posts, and how we can make them better, There are still some of you out there looking for great jobs or deals or even clients. We’re going to talk about how to best present yourself with Brendan’s advice direct from his experience. But first, I had to call the Bossman up, Ian welcome to the pod. You’re, you’re so busy nowadays, I’m scheduling in on 15 minute time increments.

Ian: you scheduled in on a 15 minute time increments and then you showed up five minutes late, which is not like you but the last two calls I’ve had with you. I gotta bring it up because you’re my rock when it comes to being on time and you’ve been the one that’s late.

Dan: This is exactly what I want to talk to you today about. Last year, we were running a six figure business. And this year, our new business Dynamite Jobs in six figures in the first quarter. And I can’t show up the calls on time anymore.

Ian: Yeah. Pretty cool. We did six figures in the first quarter, and then you called me up like two days ago. And you’re like, ‘Hey, man, we gotta start thinking like eight figures, man’. I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. I gotta get out of this mindset’.

Dan: I was like, ‘I don’t know how to do it, though. Just put it out there. Have a good Saturday, bye’. Anyway, I really was thinking about this conversation with Brennan in that context, we’re making this transition as I’m speaking with him. And some of the things that we’re relating to right now and sort of going through day to day. One is this, I want to flag up the issue of client selection. I sort of have this sense that when you’re just getting started, you’re thinking about what people want to buy, and you’re kind of willing to package up anything and sell it to them, because it’s you and a small team. But there comes a point when you’ve got to get a little bit more selective about who you take on and assertive about what value you intend to provide. And this essentially boils down to saying no.

Ian: I’d say we have, we have several products over Dynamite Jobs right now. One is job postings. The other one is job promotions. And the other one is our productized service, which is a recruiting service, which is basically done for you hiring. Some of them aren’t successful, and some of them are gonna get cut. And this is the reason why I’m bringing it up is – product market fit. Until like a couple maybe like, two months ago, I was like, ‘We don’t have product market fit’, because we’re on a run rate here, seven figures. I tell people, like, ‘I don’t really feel like we have product market fit’. I tell you this and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I agree’. But most other people would be like, ‘What do you mean, you know, product market fit, you got a business, you got a bunch of people working for you, you got a cash register all this stuff?’. And I’m like, ‘Well, most of this stuff isn’t sustainable. We’re just throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks’. And I’m starting now, and this is how fast things change, but I’m starting now to kind of see some products here that we might have a year or two from now. But if you asked me that question six months ago, I wouldn’t have been so sure about it. So I think it’s to say like, you know, six, and sometimes seven figure businesses, you can be doing stuff, you can be making good income, but you can still not have product market fit, which is kind of crazy to me as I say that.

Dan: This can happen even at eight figures, maybe who knows, like maybe these things are numbers agnostic at a certain point. I do think there are certain things that change.

Ian: I think that’s totally true. I think a mature business that is doing eight figures definitely has a lot of focus. But to get that focus, you got to kind of go through unfocused times and products that don’t necessarily make sense because it’s how we distil these products – we do a bunch of things that are not necessarily sustainable to figure out what that focus is. And I feel like we’re still kind of in that stage of trying to figure out like, ‘Hey, what’s worth doing? How can we package this? Can we scale it? What does our team look like when we have 50 people?’

Dan: I just have a couple of jotted notes down here. We just on boarded a brand new, exciting employee, someone who will be on the show in the future. And he brings a tonne to the table, but has been a long time since he’s worked in an organisation this small and one of the things I was saying is like, ‘Yeah, here’s how it’s gonna work, we’re gonna do 50 things, and two of them are gonna stick’. And it’s a weird, disconcerting process to sometimes go through, even though we’ve been around this block a bunch of times. That’s what being an entrepreneur is about a lot of times, it’s just kind of failing. And the other thing that reminds me of, this kind of growth we’ve been experiencing is just how athletic the entrepreneurial experience can be, Ian, at these early stages. You mentioned how busy we are, how tired we are, how much work there is to do. It reminds me of why there is so much like self improvement, health, even like psycho substances, sort of overlap with entrepreneurship, because I do firmly believe like, pushing from six to seven, especially in the early days, if you’re going to get to any kind of exit velocity, there is a dependence on your ability to be athletic, to move things, to see a bunch of failures, to move people past them and to find those one or two things that are going to ultimately work.

Ian: One of the most important things, I think Dan, of getting to that number is, is not doing all the work yourself. So there’s certain things that you have to do, like, I feel very compelled to be on every single sales call, to understand the problem that our customers are having. I feel deeply passionate about being on that call for a long time. But then when you turn around and you look at, like the execution of the work, yeah, I’m gonna do some of that, especially in the early days, I’m gonna understand it for sure. But then I’m gonna hire for it, that’s just one of the things that you learn from doing this process, and we’ve said this a million times on the show, but only do the things that you can do in your organisation. If there’s somebody else that can do what you can do, then you have to push up the value chain. And I tell you what, we’ve tried and tried and tried with our team members to instil that in them, too. So like, they can push up and they can push up. It doesn’t always work. But as the entrepreneur, you cannot get stuck in that situation where you’re just continuing to deliver the same value that you came in initially to deliver, you have to you have to uplevel yourself.

Dan: Yeah, it’s basically like, you bring home the bacon, and then you give it to others. before you’re totally sure all the bacon is gonna come in. There’s a lot of that going on.

Ian: Let me just say one other thing about that. And this isn’t a knock or anything like that. If your love is in the execution, then you’re like a craftsman and you’re building a different type of business. You’re probably not going to build something that scales, maybe you’re building yourself like a decent little income or something like that. I mean, I just like I’m looking behind me here at my shop Dan and there’s some really remedial tasks like grinding metal and welding things together that I really enjoy doing. And that’s fine. That’s the Craftsman at me, you know, and if that’s what I want to do all day, then that’s totally cool. But I’m not going to have 25 employees in my shop and be building cars for customers all over the world. If I’m the guy sitting out the grinder and it’s just that simple.

Dan: Unless your grinder is one that has a scale dimension to it, which there can be the case with web technologies. Certain writing, certainly what we’re doing here publishing, so you just have to be clear about where scale is coming from. In a services business the scale for us is going to come through sales and delivery. And so that’s going to mean staff and bringing home that bacon. I do think you have to have an eye towards the growth angle, whatever, wherever it’s gonna come.

Ian: Totally true.

Dan: It’s easy to grind, say in the services business, it’s easy to grind, the non, you know, scaling task, because it might be fun or might be comfortable. And a lot of the things we’re talking about are very uncomfortable. Personally, I find it a little bit uncomfortable to fail, given that I’m supposed to be a smart entrepreneur. I have to remind myself that being a smart entrepreneur is about doing things that aren’t right all the time. It’s a knowhow, I know that’s true but it doesn’t mean that I’m good at it on Tuesday afternoon. So that’s our job.

So the real reason for this call here today with Brennan is that, you know, he tweeted us and said, ‘Hey, like my experience at DJ would be so much better if XYZ’, and one of those was improving the quality of candidate applications, something we’re working on from a multiple different angles, none of which is really solved the problem yet, except for like our complete done for you service. However, I thought it’d be really cool to get some of his ideas about this, put them on wax, share them with our candidate database, with our team, and with the audience here today. I think everybody has a little bit something to learn from an entrepreneurs perspective on hiring. So, today, Brendan has been kind enough to share an excellent example of an application he’s recently received, and talk about what he, as an employer, is looking for. And at the end, we’ll buzz in for a few thoughts too.

Brendan: I actually have the Airtable database up of the recent position that we advertised on Dynamite Jobs, and I have 76 resumes here. And I don’t have a lot of time to be looking at these. So 76 pages are sent, let’s say every resume is one or two pages. So that’s at least 76 pages I have to read. So I’m like, ‘Yes, no, Yes, no’, as quickly as I can, so. And it hurts my heart when I see bad resumes that I open up, because there’s some potential there. And I’m working so hard to figure this out, like, this is just making me like work and I just don’t have the time to be working on it. So I can see that there’s something here, but it’s not my job to pull that out of them, I guess. So we have a job add up, people apply for that job. And then I think the job ad runs for 30 days. So once a week or when it goes up initially, in the first week, I’ll check it every day or every second day. And I’ll see what comes through because you’ll get a flood of candidates initially, or applications initially, whatever you want to call them. And I go through as quickly as possible. So I’ve got the Airtable open. And there’s a bunch of columns in the sheet with different things. So we’ve got location, LinkedIn address, resume. And then I think, in the last couple of jobs, we asked a couple of questions. So, ‘What’s your ideal work set up?’ was one of them because this is a remote position. ‘Have you worked remotely before?’ And then a couple of questions about pay and when they’re available to start? I’m just going through and filtering qualifying out, I guess is what I’m doing just as quickly as I can based on the summary information, and then I’ll go through and do a second pass, anything that’s not clear. And then I’ll look at their resumes quickly. And it’s a similar sort of thing where I’m just scanning the resume.

Dan: Can you give the context for what the job ad was, what the skill set was?

Brendan: So the title of the ad was ‘WordPress customer facing developer and tech support ninja’, so it is for our WP Speed Fix business, it is somebody who has WordPress tech skills broadly, I call it a mid level, middleweight WordPress developer. They’re scrappy, they can solve different problems. And they can talk to customers as well. That’s why I have the ‘customer facing’ bit in there. Because you do have developers who just want to do tech stuff, sit in the back room and just code all day. So that was the job ad. We’ve evolved this ad and I think we’ve hired our last four hires, maybe three hires, were from DC jobs. This has worked pretty well. We’ve just refined it based on getting better candidates over time. So it’s working pretty well for us. But some of the things I’m looking for – straight away commercial experience versus non commercial. And what that probably means is you’re customer facing, someone who has experience dealing with lots of different customers is going to be a better fit than someone who has experience only dealing with one customer. They’ve worked in a time pressure kind of environment where they have to deal with a lot of inputs and prioritise. So that’s commercial versus non commercial. That’s how I think of it, I guess. And then because this is a remote role, I look at remote experience versus not remote experience,

Dan: How heavily do you weigh that and why?

Brendan: I’m weighing it more heavily in the last two applications, just because it’s hard. Some things can only be learned, they can’t be taught, if that makes sense,

Dan: Like riding a bike, for example, you can’t like yeah, like how somebody how to ride a bike.

Brendan: Exactly. You can’t teach it in a class, you can only learn by getting on the bike and doing it really. So that’s like some things you’re going to learn through experience, or just by doing it. So I think, with the remote stuff, especially now, because of COVID over the last year, like you’re people who wouldn’t have applied for a remote job before are now applying for Remote Jobs. So it can be hard, like if you’ve never worked in a remote job before, understanding that it isn’t just opening a laptop on your dining table with everything else going on in the house. That’s not working remotely, you actually need a good place to work, good set up, fast internet, no distractions, all that sort of stuff. So, I’m weighing that much more heavily. Just because we’re getting a lot more candidates now who haven’t worked remotely before. And also, I’ve just learned through experience that if someone hasn’t had that remote experience before, it can be problematic.

Dan: It’s a lifestyle, like pre COVID, like people chose to be remote workers sort of because it fit their lifestyle. And I think it’d be quite jarring for people who may be like, you know, don’t identify with the internet in the same way or don’t join little swarms of groups of people on the internet in the same way. Because you kind of got to do that with a remote company where you’re buying into the culture in a way that is a little bit different than when you just rock up to the parking lot and walk into the building.

Brendan: And also, there’s more to working remotely – you have to perform, you can’t just waste three hours of the day, you know, going out to lunch with your buddies and you know, talking in the kitchen or whatever it is that happens in corporate land these days. You’re measured on output, not not inputs. And then also Pieter Levels, wrote a blog post, from ‘Nomad List’, wrote a blog post just recently about this remote and not remote and then there’s synchronous and asynchronous work. And that was an interesting concept because remote is very much asynchronous where the work can kind of happen anytime of day, so long as that happens, which is really good. It has a lot of upside to it, especially as an employee. But also then you have to be self motivated and structure a day yourself. If your productivity is higher at 6am in the morning, then you have to have that discipline to be up at six and working then and you clock off at lunchtime, or 2pm, or whatever. There’s some discipline things there that you need to enforce on yourself as opposed to having a corporate job where the time clock, you know, you’re there from nine to five. And that’s it.

Dan: I’ve noticed a lot of remote organisations trying to address this by having people have work buddies all day long. I’m such a big fan of async. But there are benefits to synchronising all day long as well. So I think it’s an interesting choice for founders. ‘It hurts my heart to see bad resumes that sell poorly’. This is a tough problem to solve. But let’s at least focus on the candidates. Sure, there’s a lot that DJ can do as well. But what can they do to get the best shot at getting your money?

Brendan: I’ve looked at a lot of resumes, I’ve been in business 22 years or something. And I’ve hired a couple of 100 people, maybe more. So I’ve seen like 10,000 resumes, I’m still seeing the same templates I was seeing like in the early 2000s. So there’s something broken here. I don’t know whether people are taught how to do a resume in school, and that’s where it ends or something. But for me, one of the first things I’m looking at in the resume is experience – is the experience relevant? And what have they done that’s relevant to this position. So that’s what I’m looking for straight away. So if I have to dig for that, that’s problematic. Some of the basic stuff that people do that’s wrong is that experience stuff is on page three, and they’ve got like, what they did in high school on page one. That was 10 years old, I don’t care like it’s totally irrelevant. I don’t need three pages of filler, just give me the summary. I want to see that experience and what you’ve done. So, I guess structuring the resume so that’s up front is probably, for me anyway, the way that I review the resumes.

Dan: One of the patterns that you’re pointing out that I’ve noticed is – the one thing about a lot of candidates is that they don’t make a lot of resumes. So they don’t know this stuff. But employers care so much about your skills visa v your experience, so they don’t want like the skill clusters and all that kind of bullshit – we want to get a sense for what you did in a context. And then we draw implications from that as to whether there’ll be crossover with our context. So I agree that getting to the crux of what you did, where matters kind of the most. Any kind of design feature detracts from our ability to get to that experience that we want to see.

Brendan: Some of the simple stuff, too, is like, it needs to be readable, like make it a PDF, don’t use a Word doc, because the Word doc for me opens in Apple pages or breaks all the formatting and looks stupid, like it’s all over the place and the layouts broken. So make it a PDF so it’s a consistent viewing experience. Don’t use fancy fonts, make it easy to read. Let me get that information quickly and easily. Don’t like don’t make me work for like, I have 76 resumes here. I don’t have time to spend 15 minutes on each one. I actually have in front of me a guy I spoke to yesterday or the day before and I said to him this is literally probably one of the best resumes I’ve ever seen.

Dan: Can you describe it?

Brendan: It’s really clean like and one thing that some resumes I see have photos on them. If you look like you’re not happy or you know you’re in prison. That’s not a good thing. I want to be excited to talk to you and if I’m feeling a little scared when I see this serious looking photo on there, that’s probably not ideal. So this guy has his name in his top at the top, he has a photo and it looks great in the photo. He’s happy and smiling – I want to talk to him, he looks friendly,

Dan: And a pro photo as well, if executed well. I do think if you have a smiling happy face that’s a good thing unfortunately some of our pc culture. I don’t have a strong opinion about it but I do know this as an employer. I love to see a smiling face that looks like a fun person to work with.

Brendan: Yep, so he’s got a photo he’s got his name, he has a really good intro line.

Dan: Maybe someone’s gonna poach away from you (laughs).

Brendan: He’s motivated by money which is good so that works for me. In some ways those are good people to hire because you know what motivates them, they’re straight up. So he’s got an engineering degree and that would be one of my first questions. You’ve just finished the engineering degree, why aren’t you being an engineer? So his first line is engineer changing to a tech support job helping WordPress users fix issues, migrations, exactly what we’re doing. So that’s like one of the first questions I’m going to have an objection to hiring him. He’s spent four years doing an engineering degree or five years why would I hire him? He’s answered that question straight up.

That’s another point, there’s a certain degree at least 10-20% of the resumes in this list of the 76, i’ve just put a note here that they are a ‘resume ninja’, that’s my my shorthand for this zero relevant experience to doing anything with WordPress or internet or remote. I don’t understand, why did you apply? Sid you have to apply for a certain number of jobs today? I don’t get it. So he’s answered that objection I’d have. But his education is actually last, it’s only one page. But he’s education is at the bottom and that’s probably one of the things I don’t really care about degrees, for the type of roles we’re hiring, a degree doesn’t matter, and that background doesn’t matter to me.

Dan: That’s fairly common amongst DJ users as well

Brendan: I’ve never hired someone based on university or degree background but, again, that’s kind of it in the text base it’s going to be different if it’s like I guess a medical roll or something like that when that matters. He actually has experience in a commercial customer facing tech support role and he actually has things that like really really ticked the boxes for me. He’s the record holder for upsells in this particular company, with the biggest upsells I think ever. So he’s just put his achievements ther.e

Dan: That’s interesting, so achievements and results is another key thing I want to flag up because with a lot of bad resumes they essentially give you a job description of what anyone in that job would have done. And the whole point of your experiences is to share what you uniquely brought to the table in that experience that indicates that you’re unique. Sounds like relevance is the big thing

Brendan: Supporting more than 100 customers per day and was like, ‘Okay this is exactly what I’m looking for’. I put in there it’s customer facing commercial, he’s worked in this job for another company essentially, he’s worked for a hosting company before so it’s pretty much exactly this sort of job. He’s the kind of almost perfect candidate

Dan: Tweaking your experience in your resume slightly to start that conversation with whatever employer you’re going for is actually not as high energy as most candidates suspect. A lot of candidates get frustrated no one wants to hire them. And then they just start spamming everybody. I heard this quote that I really want to sort of tap into a little bit more. But it was a profound idea to me. It was this idea that language is the key to community. If you speak the right language, people will instantly recognise that you’re part of the group kind of thing. And so like one of the best cover letters I ever got was like, ‘Hey, took a look at your blah, blah, blah, I have experience that is really relevant. Let me know if it’s a good fit’. It was like two sentences to the point and he was speaking my language. And then so was the resume. Really understanding your target and that’s why I wanted Brendan’s voice on this is like,I think candidates underestimate how busy entrepreneurs are. You think you’re busy applying to jobs? Which is like why I’m totally happy with a picture, very clear experience and a two sentence cover letter. But, if you speak in a way that indicates you’re not that familiar with WordPress, or you haven’t familiarize yourself with Brendan’s business, it’s like an instant deal killer, basically.

Brendan: Trying to qualify out not qualifying, basically, right? When you have 100 resumes to look at, you’re looking for the thing that’s gonna make it a no, not a yes. As a first pass anyway.

Dan: Is there anything else you want to share on this front?

Brendan: Probably like consistency as well. One of the things I asked for is a LinkedIn profile link, because if they’re working online – I’m not a huge fan of LinkedIn, I don’t go on LinkedIn, I really care about it. But l it’s like a test for me. If the resume says one thing, and LinkedIn says something completely different, something’s not right there. So being consistent with what you’re saying, like, don’t say you worked at one job, and I go look at your LinkedIn, and it’s a different job, or you’ve been running your own business for the last five years, that’s fine, I don’t have an issue with that. But again, explain to me, you’ve been you say, running this agency, why you’re applying for a job? I need that explained to me. And then because we asked the expected salary, which some people are going to be funny about but, for me, it’s a qualifier, as well. And I’m happy to pay more. So I think we had on the job ad that we paid 25 or 35 an hour, I’m having to pay a lot of money if I get a lot for that money. I’m happy to negotiate. But if you put a crazy salary on there, you need to sell on it. I’m happy to pay more. But if you put 100k a year on there, you need to be selling me on that, if I’m spending like – 25 bucks an hour, 50k a year. So from paying double what my budget is, I need to be sold on it. Tell me why. So I guess just being mindful of, of some of those things, being consistent and thinking about it from my perspective, like as a business owner,

One of the other common mistakes is you get a resume that says, ‘I’m trying to do this, I want this, I want that’. It’s like you’re not really selling it on what’s in it for me, as a business owner. It’s a sales process, I guess, really in effect. And some of these problems I think, with their resumes are because people aren’t taught how to sell or market themselves. So that’s a bit problematic. And they learned how to do a resume in high school, and that’s probably the extent of the experience. So being straight up, I’m a human like I, you know, sometimes I feel like people are trying to trick me into hiring them almost. I’m not some magical gatekeeper that’s bestowing jobs upon people. I’m a business owner, trying to make money, I want to hire good people to work with. I’m human too. I hate when people call me ‘Sir’. Sometimes you get like your team in the Philippines will call you that by default, which is one of the things I hate. I’m not some magical gatekeeper with all the power

Dan: Again language is the key to the group. You want to get into the group. You have to demonstrate that you can calibrate and speak the language of the group. And yeah, maybe some people don’t like that reality. A lot of times when you’re used to applying to schools and large organisations, you are essentially ticking boxes, and perhaps your resume ends up in the final box and like somebody calls you. It’s interesting on the other side of the aisle, Brennan, like, candidates are frustrated by these moving targets. And so a lot of them just say, ‘I just want to get on the phone. Like, I just feel like if someone met me’, you know. The reality is, is like, that’s not I mean, ‘Indeed’ has a product kinda like that. But for blue collar stuff, like, the reality is you’re not getting on the phone unless you do this work. So at least for now, you have to demonstrate your professional quality by understanding the professionalism that I think Brendan, speaking about. In a small organisation, you need to know how to, you know, interact with humans in this way.

Brendan: Probably the people who are putting jobs up on DC jobs, probably output and performances, again, it’s not performance by attendance. They actually need tangible output from you, small businesses, or even if they have a team of 50, every head counts. It’s not like corporate land where you can do nothing for five years, and nobody cares. These businesses are smaller, more agile, the business owners care about each of the staff members in their output. So, you know, these aren’t like fixed boxes that you’ve been putting in terms of roles, they’re dynamic, so they can change. And most businesses at this size can too, adapt the role to fit what you’re looking for, particularly like remote businesses is probably the best that this because we can move these variables around to suit. So thinking with that in mind, it really is about performance. And what can you bring to the business as opposed to just, like you said, like, a job description, which means nothing, it’s really about that output.

Dan: And also, if you’re, like, you mentioned, you’re talking about a higher level of communication, if you’re begging for a job, and calling you sir, and ‘Please rain down your money on me’. That’s no way to enter into the language of, ‘Hey, I know I don’t have specific experience, but I have a specific interest. And here’s what it is. I think that experience will bring something to the table’. Just because you didn’t write it in a job ad doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a value to you. But if you try to skirt the issue, and hope no one notices, people are gonna notice.

Brendan: Absolutely. And as business owners, we like to be sold sometimes. We enjoy that. It’s also good to see someone, like, come up with some sort of unique approach too.

Dan: 100%. A final piece of advice I got is – don’t ever say you’re the perfect fit. Because the first thing that any business owner is gonna be like, ‘Whoa, how do you do that? Because we haven’t even talked to you’.

Brendan: Exactly. Totally agree.

Dan: Thanks for coming by the podcast, Brendan. We appreciate it.

Brendan: It was good fun.

Dan All right, big shout out to Brendan Tully with some wonderful insights. I’m just such an optimist. I look at all these candidates, very similar the way Brennan does it, and think, ‘Man, there’s a job out there for everybody, like, all these people are special’. And if they just presented themselves a little bit better, we could get them a job, you know?

Ian: See this is why you’re not in charge of the recruiting Dan.

Dan: Too much of an optimist. Yeah. I mean, our recruiting team is more decisive, more professional, more high level, it’s like, ‘Look, if you cannot present yourself well, in a hiring situation, how are you going to do it in a professional situation?’

Ian: Correct. I’m kind of like you, man, I’m an optimist. I’ll find somebody and I’ll figure out something that they’re good at. But that’s not the way that we’re kind of looking at people from this recruiting perspective, right? When a company comes to us, and they want to put the best person in the chair for the job, you have to be decisive, you have to find that one person in that pile of 400 that’s the right fit.

Dan: But I will say, look, the rest of us we are usually that 399. And so it’s worth talking a little bit about the rest of us and how we can be better. And one of the things is, it is a meta skill, right? Just because you’re good at some technical task and a business doesn’t necessarily mean you’re great at selling yourself as a potential team member. So I do think there’s a lot of value in the sorts of things that Brennan’s pointed out. So often, I see people on their resumes, essentially describing the job that anybody would have done, had they had that job, that’s a common one. Really try to figure out like, what the hook is going to be, that brings in, you know, an employer’s interest into your application.

Ian: Well, you’re just being too nice, my friend. I’ve got only negative thoughts over here in my head so ..

Dan: Most candidates suck, right? That’s kind of the idea.

Ian: Well that’s one thing. But not that harsh. I think a couple things. One is like remote is getting super competitive right now. The most competitive has ever been, we first started out in my jobs. It was a real advantage to be remote, because you were kind of like meeting your people, right? It was like, ‘Well, I recognise this, you recognise this, let’s get together’. Now. It’s like, oh, everybody’s remote. And now you’re having to compete with basically every business so it’s not so much of an advantage anymore. That’s one thing. The other thing is – it is very hard to stick out in the noise with like the 400 people. So how can you do it? Well, the first thing is you can do it by not making mistakes.

Dan: One of the things I really liked that Brendan said, like, yeah, if you’re looking at 100 resumes, you’re not looking for the the amazing one right away, you’re looking for, like, get rid of all the crappy ones. That’s the first step.

Ian: Yeah, we call that like the first flush. You’re really, in my mind, you’re looking to get on the phone with somebody because if you’re like me, Dan, once you get on the phone, it’s over. I’m gonna close you, doesn’t doesn’t matter what side of the aisle we’re on.

Dan: That’s the number one thing our candidates say – just give me a chance to get on the phone.

Ian: And that’s fair too. Because I think once you get on the phone, you get an opportunity to really demonstrate yourself.

Dan: But it’s also just lazy. I’m a real big believer in this, ‘language is the key to access’ idea. And it’s part of why a phone conversation, ‘Oh, I get this person like I’m vibing with them, I can see where that what they do know and what they don’t know. And I can kind of tell if they haven’t been a part of this industry too much. They don’t know the lingo or whatever. Or like when I asked them what would be a relatively simple question for someone who’s done x, like I can tell that they haven’t done it’. The reality is, is like, those things are harder to get into writing. And that means you got to spend time to do so. And the biggest mistake that candidates are making is number one, not putting enough effort into it, because they’re not focused. This stuff gets a whole lot easier when you’ve spent time doing the work that you’re applying for. How do I get a job, if I don’t have three to five years of experience? Well, you do something that is equivalent to three to five years of experience, and then you explain why that’s a better value proposition for the potential employer. It’s just that simple, right? But actually doing that is complicated.

Ian: Yeah, and the other thing too is definition on the employer side. So a lot of times the reason why you get a bunch of trash applications or people that you don’t feel are good fits is because you haven’t taken the opportunity to articulate yourself in your job post, in what your company does, or you don’t have vision around the opportunity.

Dan: We have a case of, yeah, we have a case of the cobbler shoes, often her own job postings, I understand how complicated that can be when you’re hiring fast. And there’s a lot of stuff to do. And it can be difficult to frame up exactly why your job is special. But, like you said, at the top end, it’s a good message for employers and a piece of internal data is that a lot of these positions are getting a lot more competitive. And if you don’t want your staffing cost to go up, then you need to target a different geography, a different skill set, a different experience level, or you need to accentuate the culture. Those are sort of your options.

Ian: Here’s one thing too, that I didn’t fully realise Dan until we started this company – it’s like really hard to promote and vet for your own company. This is gonna sound weird, but it’s almost better to have a middleman and I never thought this was going to be the case, I was always like, sceptical of like recruiters, right? ‘Who can hire better than we can like, this is our organisation’. But the cool thing about having a middleman is they get to like, understand who you are, they get to represent you, and then they get to play both sides. Which is pretty cool, right? Because you can a lot of times find out people’s intentions without having to talk to them.

Dan: So basically, candidates lie to employers, that’s what you’re getting to.

Ian: So yeah, totally. Well employers lie to recruiters all the time about like, or they’re just not forthcoming with the information or the opportunity, or they’re having a hard time articulating it. So it’s kind of the job of the person in the middle to distil what both sides want and then bring them together. It’s kind of like the same thing with the business broker, it’s really hard to have these conversations with each other because you’re invested so much.

Dan: That’s why the flat rate recruiting was, I think, the innovation that we saw to be important, because then, you know, if it weren’t flat rate, we would be incentivized to drive up the cost of the employment when we knew our clients could afford it, if that makes sense. So I do think there’s an interesting take on flat rate, whereas with the business brokers, they’re just trying to get someone to hire. I thought that was interesting. In fact, I was speaking with a team member today, and they were mentioning that, like, they were a little bit surprised that one of our clients hired a lower level person and that’s not something they saw a lot. And he wasn’t incentivized to say, ‘No, hire the higher level person’. He ultimately had to trust that experience of the CEO that what they wanted was someone with that particular fit at a lower rate. Even though internally had some concerns and thought that maybe there was a better candidate, but, you know, that’s the kind of negotiation you’re talking about, in good faith sort of thing.

Ian: And also just the asymmetry of the information too, and this isn’t like about taking advantage of people or anything, it’s like, the organisation knows so much and the candidate knows so little. And I think a lot of times, it’s hard for the organisation to express to the candidate what the opportunity is, what this involves, they’re kind of talking about the job, right? Whereas the recruiter or us in between can kind of like see the trajectory of the two parties and understand if it’s going to be a good fit.

Dan: Well, that’s it for this one Ian. We sort of a kind of went in two different directions with this one but it’s worth mentioning these are really like live conversations we’re having every day and a lot of the narrative here on the show in the next few months, we’ll continue to talk about this issue of throwing spaghetti against the wall, finding product market fit, and figuring out ways to scale it up and stay sane in the process. So we’d love to hear from you guys of course, whether you’re hiring or applying, what are your pain points. You know what annoys you about the hiring process. Obviously, we’re really engaged in these problems on a day to day basis. That’s it, Bossman, do you have any parting shots?

Ian: I gotta get back to work. Talk to you soon.

Dan: All right. We’ll be back as always, next Thursday morning. Have a great weekend.