When it comes to working and hiring remotely, most people usually belong in one of two groups: those who think it’s a chance to binge-watch Game of Thrones on their couch while pretending to work and those who think it’s a chance to do meaningful work they love without the stress of commuting.
At Toggl, we belong to the second group.
Here’s a story of Toggl and remote work – why we love it, how we became its biggest advocates and why we’re never hiring the old way again.
As a plus, a case study on how to use Toggl Hire (our candidate sourcing tool of choice) to find and hire talented remote workers.
Why remote work?
There’s already a ton of material out there on the perks of working remotely, but here are the basics for the Doubting Thomases out there. First off – there’s no commuting. Besides saving time (at least 100 hours per year), it means less carbon pollution and better employee health. Remote work also increases productivity, decreases employee turnover and saves companies millions on overhead costs.
Finally, remote work allows you to hire talent from all over the globe – not just within driving distance from the company office. This is precisely why we use it at Toggl.
Given many of its benefits, it’s no wonder that remote work is on the rise. According to recent research, 43% of the employed in the USA spend some time working remotely on a weekly basis. This is a 4% increase since 2012. There is no doubt that larger portions of the workforce will do their jobs remotely in the years to come.
How Toggl switched to hiring remotely
By today’s startup standards, Toggl is somewhat of a dinosaur. It was founded in 2006, and it has been fully remote since 2013. There are multiple reasons for this, but only one was enough to tip the scales.
Toggl had to look for talent beyond the borders of Estonia – which meant hiring remotely.
If you don’t already know, Toggl is based in Estonia. This happens to be the third country in Europe in the number of startups per capita. It has a booming IT sector and new companies are popping up daily. Great news for tech talent, bad news for companies.
Estonia is a fairly small country, with about 1.3 million inhabitants. As you can imagine, finding new developers and other IT roles quickly became difficult. In order to get the best people for the job, Toggl had to look for talent beyond the borders of Estonia – which meant hiring remotely.
Finding talented remote workers
It quickly became obvious that hiring remotely bears similar problems as traditional hiring methods.
First, we had the problem of getting in front of strong remote candidates. Finding qualified applicants is hard enough on its own, finding applicants that do great work and want to work remotely – even harder.
We had to find out as much as we could about our remote candidates in a short period of time.
Second, there was the issue of screening. As we published open positions, literally thousands of applications came in. Unfortunately, a good chunk of them were people not suited for the job. In the process, we found out that resumes were more of a distraction than a help.
Third, we had to make sure that people who apply for the job actually have the skills to get the job done. This facet of hiring takes a lot of trust in traditional work environments – in hiring remotely, trust is a crucial element of collaboration.
Fourth, there was the issue of culture. We needed to make sure that people with different cultural backgrounds would be able to fit into the team and do good work.
Finally, we had to find a way to hire effectively and as cost-efficiently as possible. The process had to be repeatable and scalable.
In short, we had to find out as much as we could about our candidates in a short period of time, while making the process easy for both us and the candidates.
Hiring remotely with Toggl Hire
In typical SaaS fashion, we wanted to automate the job application process as much as possible – this is how we came up with Toggl Hire.
Toggl Hire is a platform that allows you to check a candidate’s basic skills upfront. With a series of questions, you can tell whether the applicant can do what the role requires or not. Its main benefit is saving time and money in the first phases of the hiring process. In fact, we saved over 22 hours for each of the 68 people hired with Toggl Hire. Just imagine how many Game of Thrones episodes you could watch in the time saved here.
Real-life use: our hiring process, step by step
In order to show you the process we use to hire remotely, here’s an example of how we hired an SEO Manager. As Toggl started growing, some additional (wo)manpower was needed. To support this growth, Toggl needed an SEO Manager. And what better way to hire one than using Toggl Hire itself?
Here’s a quick step-by-step overview of the process.
Defining the role and creating a pre-screening test
Before creating a short pre-screening test with Toggl Hire, it’s crucial to know exactly what person you’re looking for. So, before we began looking for a new SEO manager, we sat down and wrote a list of tasks that they should be able to do. This includes developing SEO strategies, doing keyword research, optimizing content, defining outreach methods and more.
Second, we defined the skills that a great candidate needs to have. These include strategic thinking, link building, knowledge of SEO tactics, creative writing and others. We had a list of 25 key skills but boiled it down for 10 to make the assessment creation easier. Based on these 10 skills, we created 10 questions for the application test.
Defining the tasks and skills your candidate needs to have is perhaps the most important step in hiring great people. Any mistakes made here will have a deep impact on the hiring process later, so think this step through carefully.
Writing a job description
Putting together a job description that works is an art form. We don’t believe in walls of text filled with bullet points and buzzwords such as demonstrated ability so we skipped all that mumbo-jumbo. Instead, we focused on two things – the start screen of the test and the career page on the Toggl Hire website.
On the start screen of the test, we laid out the basics of the role and stressed the fact that we are hiring remotely. We also created a career page with a twist – we posted it as a blog. The idea was to let applicants know more about the company and get them attracted to joining our team. So far so good.
Sourcing remote candidates
The last time a developer was hired for Toggl, there were over 1900 applicants, with 2% that made it to the interview. Only 0.3% got hired. We knew exactly the process to put in place.
First, we created ads for social media to promote the job opening. Our platforms of choice were LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Only people from Europe were targeted in order to avoid too much of a time zone difference.
Filtering the candidates
In just a couple of weeks, there were 240 visitors to the job page, and 154 of them took the test. We set the time limit for 10 minutes – the average test time was 6:56. The passing grade for the test was 70% and 69 out of 154 people got this score. The number of applicants was halved from the start – great news, but that’s still a large number of people to go through.
To weed out some applicants, we took a look at some of the key questions from the test and checked how the candidates responded to them. If we still were not sure, we turned to the open-ended text questions to make up our mind. Finally, if we really weren’t able to make a call, we glanced at their LinkedIn profile. This way, we went from 69 to 17 candidates – much better.
Next, we invited the candidates for a one-hour test. In Toggl Hire, of course. Out of 17 people, 13 took the test, and 5 passed it. We called them in for an interview, and the best two were invited for a paid test week so we can see how they fit in with our team.
Start hiring remotely with Toggl Hire today
If you too would like to reap the benefits of hiring global talent remotely, you can do it with Toggl Hire today. You can give it a try.
Some further reading: