How to get your first job in a start-up? – Part 2

How to get your first job in a start-up? – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the guide on how to get your first job at a tech company with Giedre Dubisevaite. She is a People Manager at Whatagraph, a SaaS platform for collecting and visualizing marketing data gathered from many channels. Whatagraph has tripled its team to 60+ people in 2020 with ambitious plans for 2021 as well. 

If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1 of the interview, which covers the first steps for getting a job, including building a LinkedIn profile and sending an outstanding application.

 

The Interview

🔵 We pick up the conversation from Part 1 at a place where the candidate has cleared the first hurdle and left a good first impression on the recruiter. What happens next? How does Whatagraph’s hiring process look and how long does it usually take to complete it?

It actually very much depends on the role and the team. As a rule of thumb, if we receive an excellent candidate, we do not wait a month to send an offer but rather do it straight away. So if you hesitate whether to apply, today is always better than tomorrow.

In terms of the hiring process, the candidates usually go through the following steps:

  1. Application (can be done via email or by applying on our careers page)
  2. Screening
  3. Interview with a team lead
  4. Assignment
  5. Meet the team / Cultural fit interview
  6. Offer

We are big fans of adjusting the hiring process to the specific position, so the candidate gets the opportunity to show off the specific skills as well as get to know the team before deciding to join. After all, it’s an evaluation journey for both parties.

For example, when hiring for a Sales role, we usually invite candidates for a role play with our team. Also, they get to participate in the Experience day, where you get to meet the team and see how your daily tasks will look. For a position like Product Designer, we might give you a scenario with a real UX problem to solve to see how you approach challenges. 

 

 

🔵 How different are the recruiting processes for various positions, for example, technical vs non-technical roles?

I wouldn’t make a distinction between technical and non-technical roles because each position is different. We look not only at professional experience but also at soft skills that are specific to the position. 

Almost every role we are recruiting for will have an assignment step – technical or non-technical. We have found it works well for understanding the candidate’s approach to tasks in general, but it also allows them to show off their practical skills.

 

🔵 What’s your favourite question to ask at interviews? Why?

While our Team Leaders focus on more technical questions, I like to pay close attention to the personality and cultural fit. When we hire people, our goal is to onboard them on a long-term journey with Whatagraph, so we make sure the new hires share our vision, commitment and values. So my favourite question is “Where do you do your best work?”. It might sound like a simple question, but it actually gives a lot of insights. 

For example, it shows if you are a team or an individual player, what motivates you and what management style is the best to support you. Also, it highlights if you thrive in a fast-paced environment full of challenges and if you feel comfortable working at a startup like Whatagraph.

My second favourite would be “What would motivate you to stay in the company for the next 5 years?”.

 

 

🔵 Let’s say the talent has triumphantly completed the hiring process and is ready to start their career at Whatagraph. How does the onboarding process look like when most of the team is (presumably) working remotely?

When a new person joins the company remotely, the first week is booked with meetings – we believe it is important to see the faces of the people you will be working with daily. 

During your first week, you get to know our Operations and HR team, have intros with your own team and get to meet our CEO Justas. We make it clear that everyone in the company is approachable, and each question is important. Weekly check-ins also help to keep the pulse of the new hire. 

To meet people from other teams, we have regular Whatachat events. It’s like speed dating with your colleagues, where you get matched with random people for 5-minute video conversations, which is quite fun. 🙂

 

🔵 How has the year of remote work changed how Whatagraph operates?

We learned a lot over the past year about working remotely, and although it hasn’t affected how we work that much, there were a few things that we learned to do better.

Communication, for example. It’s easy to set up all day meetings to give everyone a sense of ‘working together‘, yet it’s time-consuming and tiring, especially when working from home. 

Instead, we worked a lot on documentation – writing up the processes step by step, creating handbooks, guidelines and explainer videos. We also use task management platforms that give a transparent view of where everyone in the team is, and we moved a lot of conversations offline.

 

🔵 What should a person expect from his/her first-ever job in a start-up? 

I would compare working at a startup to riding a bullet train – you jump in and ride at full speed from day one. It’s not really about lounging on bean bags and playing Playstation 4 hours per day. 

At Whatagraph, the pace indeed is fast, which can be challenging for some. But what you get in return is the environment to grow rapidly both professionally and as a person. It would take twice as long to become an outstanding talent in any other company. Here, you can do that in a few months, guided and supported by our experienced Team Leaders.

We trust our people to take ownership and get hands-on tasks from day one. And sometimes, mistakes are made, but it’s a risk we are willing to take. We say that a bad page can always be edited, but a blank one – cannot. Getting our hands dirty is how we deliver more than expected and how we grow at scale.

And amidst the thriving environment for talent, we have our team. We are all very different, complementing each other with skills and knowledge, but what unites us is the sense that we are all together in this magical journey. Everyone is super supportive and friendly – we leave our egos at the door and focus on collaboration every single day. 

🔵 Are there any things specific to SaaS companies compared to start-ups in other areas? 

When working in a SaaS company, a focus is on the product and the service we offer. To succeed in any of the teams, you need to know the product exceptionally well because you will be either making it, selling it, supporting it or marketing it. So this knowledge is essential. 

In their first week, new joiners meet our Customer Success team, where they thoroughly learn the platform and have a knowledge building session to cover the use cases of how marketing professionals use Whatagraph to become data scientists.

 

🔵 Maybe you can give some examples of team events or routines that are unique to Whatagraph?

Even though we are over 60 people now, sometimes it still feels like a small family. Current situation and remote work has put a lot of stress on how people feel in general, and for us it is important to have this sense of community alive, and to support each other. So we have remote team activities where we connect people from different teams and give them time and space to talk while doing something fun, not work-related. For example, the bi-weekly Whatachat events mentioned earlier.

Obviously, we dearly miss our office activities like weekly team breakfasts, hearing the gong from the sales room every time we have a new customer onboarded, or a bell ping every time a demo is booked, going for a team picnic outside, or just getting together for a beer or two. The time away from the office provided us with a lot of space to get new ideas of activities inside and outside the office, so I’m really looking forward to implementing them! For example, enabling our teams in Vilnius and Klaipeda to switch offices – who wouldn’t want to work with a view over the Curonian Lagoon during the day and then chill by the sea in the evening?

Check out Whatagraph’s open positions on MeetFrank:

 

🔵 Especially at the start of your career, you might find out that your initial career path is not the best fit for you. How easily can you move between different teams and roles within Whatagraph?  

Easy. That’s the best part about working in a fast-growing company like Whatagraph. I joined the company five years ago as a Marketing Specialist, and during my time here, I had a chance to work in Customer Success, Product and Operations teams. This experience helped me find the areas I enjoy most, and now I found my place as the People Manager. 

Marija, our Head of Operations, started her career as a Partnerships Development Executive in our Sales team. Žilvinas, who leads our affiliate marketing program, worked as an Outreach Specialist before taking up the new position. 

There are plenty of opportunities, and with the current pace of hiring, they are coming up all the time. It’s the matter of you taking that step and making good use of it.

 

 

How to get your first job in a start-up? – Part 1

How to get your first job in a start-up? – Part 1

Tech companies are attractive employers in many industries and ready to offer young talents remarkable growth opportunities. However, getting your first job, in a start-up or otherwise, might seem daunting. How to stand out from the other candidates? How to present yourself to a recruiter? 🤔

To find answers to all those questions, we interviewed Giedre Dubisevaite, People Manager at Whatagraph, which is a SaaS platform for collecting and visualizing marketing data gathered from many channels. She is a perfect interviewee because Whatagraph has been on a bit of a hiring spree lately, tripling its team to 60+ people in 2020 with ambitious plans for 2021 as well. 

The interview is divided into two parts: this article will cover what recruiters look like besides the work experience, how to make your application stand out, and how to build a professional LinkedIn presence. The second part focuses on everything that happens after you have been invited to an interview.

 

 

The Interview

🔵 The summer is nearing, which means people are out there eyeing a new job, maybe their first job ever. Suppose you are such a person without a lot of industry experience. Do you really have a chance in the job market at all when every job seems to require previous work experience?

Absolutely, the beginning of a new season tends to summon the longing for change, right? The good news is that Whatagraph already has several entry positions open, and we will have a lot more in the next few weeks. It’s enough to have strong motivation and interpersonal skills to apply for entry positions – we invest heavily in new people and make sure they receive sufficient training to succeed. 

Of course, there are positions where experience is a must, like leadership roles. And having worked in similar positions is always seen as an advantage. That said, when we are recruiting for junior positions at Whatagraph, experience is not the only thing we look at, but also things like internships, volunteering projects, courses, and life experiences that might have developed the skills needed.

 

🔵 Could you give a specific example of what you look for in candidates applying for junior positions? Besides the relevant work experience, of course.

Sure, let’s take our Partnerships Development Executive (PDE) role as an example. It is a junior sales position, so I do not expect people to have a strong B2B SaaS sales knowledge. Instead, I look at:

LinkedIn profile. PDEs will be communicating a lot with our leads, so it is crucial to have a LinkedIn presence. Is the profile filled out? Is it professional? Does the person know how to sell himself or herself? If yes, then there’s a huge chance he/she will know how to sell to others as well.

Life experience. You can gain the skills needed to excel as a PDE anywhere: Customer-facing positions, fast-paced environments, even leading a school committee – all these experiences tell a story. When I read ‘a waiter’, I see a person who is most likely used to working long hours under pressure. When I read ‘studied abroad’, I see a person who is not afraid of challenges. These are all super beneficial skills when working in our Sales team at Whatagraph.

 

 

🔵 There’s, of course, truth to the fact that your first job might be one of the hardest to get, even if you have been active as a student. How should you present yourself as a junior to be seen as a serious candidate by recruiters? 

1️⃣ First, put the effort into the application. There’s nothing worse than getting just an attached resume in an empty email. Spend some time saying hi, explaining why you are interested in this position and what makes you a good candidate. It doesn’t have to be too long – a few accurate and witty sentences are more than enough.

2️⃣ Second, show that you know the company. Do your research. Offer solutions/ideas. For example, we had a developer applying for a position where instead of sending a resume, he researched our website and sent a list of possible improvements. Guess what? He got invited to a job interview and was hired soon after.

3️⃣ Third, adapt your resume to the position. Look through the job specs – what skills are we after? Try to showcase them in your resume and application letter. Tell a story of how you have gained these skills through previous experiences.

4️⃣ Fourth, make sure your social media presence shows the best side of you, especially the LinkedIn profile. Don’t just leave it empty and thus open for interpretation. 

5️⃣ Fifth, and probably most important, show your motivation and excitement to join a company like Whatagraph.

 

 

🔵 You mentioned building a LinkedIn profile, which is a fascinating subject in itself. Do you have any tips on how to present yourself professionally on LinkedIn? Are there any red lines that the candidate should avoid at all cost?

There are so many things that make up a good LinkedIn profile! We could do a separate interview just on this. 🙂

First of all, if you do not have a LinkedIn profile already, create it. An up-to-date LinkedIn profile works as your resume, so in many cases, it is enough to apply for a job at Whatagraph.

Your profile photo leaves a first impression. It will do you a favour if it’s recent and professional. Avoid cropped images where your face is invisible as well as too distracting accessories. 

Your LinkedIn headline is also one of the main fields that make up the first impression when someone lands on your LinkedIn profile. It should be quite generic but still reflect what and where you do.

Make sure your experience section it’s updated regularly and matches your resume. Mention things like the organizations you have worked or volunteered in, add a list of specific responsibilities and note your main achievements.

The number of connections shows your social presence and reputation in a sense. If it’s 500+, you’re doing a good job. But if you’ve just created your LinkedIn profile and have two connections, I’ll tell you a secret – some tools automatically send requests to connect with people without you lifting a finger.

 

🔵 If a person has already covered the LinkedIn profile basics, then what are some of the advanced features?

Write an “About” section. It should introduce you professionally in a few sentences and cover a couple of different things:

  • What is your speciality?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • In what industries have you worked? 
  • Your achievements, ideally reflected in numbers. We love data.

Licences and certification. If you have something to add – do it, it does give a sense of credibility. Also, use a custom LinkedIn URL – it looks way more professional than default-full-of-random-digits URL that LinkedIn automatically generates. 

 

That’s it for this time! Check out Part Two to find out how to nail the interview and the rest of the recruiting process.

🔵 However, if the previous answers left you wondering about a career in Whatagraph, what open positions do you have right now? Do you have any entry-level opportunities at the moment?

Absolutely! Our hiring plan is ambitious, and we need a lot of people to jump on this train with us. We have openings in Engineering, Product Design, Marketing and Sales teams.

 

Check out Whatagraph’s open positions on MeetFrank:


We have already started scaling our Engineering team, so we are looking for Backend Engineers, Frontend Engineers, Engineering Managers and QA Specialists. By the time this interview is out, we’ll have settled in our new Klaipeda office overlooking the Curonian Lagoon with the perfect view for our weekly tech breakfasts. Having grown the engineering team, we’ll definitely need additional hands in the Product Design team as well.

We are also growing our Marketing team, so we are searching for Outreach Specialists, which is the perfect entry position for those looking to advance their skills in SEO. Other open positions in Marketing include PPC Specialists and Influencer Managers.

The Sales team will welcome Client Partners and Partnerships Development Executives, the latter is the perfect entry position for anyone looking to kick off their career in B2B SaaS sales.

 

Nord Security – Building a leading cybersecurity company

Nord Security – Building a leading cybersecurity company

You might have heard about the product called NordVPN, but do you know the company behind it, Nord Security? The company started its journey in 2012 inside the Tesonet accelerator, and it has rapidly grown ever since. Today, Nord Security is one of the largest tech-companies in Lithuania in its own right, with nearly 700 employees and 15 million users worldwide.

Only recently they stepped outside of Tesonet to separately start building their company culture and employer brand. We talked with Karina Dirvonskienė, Head of HR at Nord Security, about why they are doing this, how it is going and why should the talent care?

 

The Interview

First of all, congratulations on starting your employer journey. Could you tell us a bit about how it came to life? Why did you choose to do it now, and what challenges did it bring?

Thanks! Starting Nord Security’s employer journey is indeed a big step for us. 

It’s no secret that the story of our company began with the inception of NordVPN, which at the moment is one of the most popular VPN service providers worldwide. It was the 35th project developed inside the ecosystem of the Tesonet accelerator, and over time it grew beyond our expectations. Today we are a team of nearly 700 employees and have expanded our product family by adding four new cybersecurity tools (NordPass, NordLocker, NordVPN Teams, and NordWL). And it’s definitely not the end – we are still growing exponentially. 

As it often happens, the new beginning brought us some challenges. In the past, we could rely on the Tesonet brand to fulfil our needs as an employer, but now we have to build our own employer brand from scratch. However, we’re optimistic about it since we’ve already made some progress.

 

 

Could you introduce your products to people not too familiar with the cybersecurity market? How are they received in the market so far?

At the moment, Nord Security has more than 15 million users worldwide that trust our products to ensure their privacy online. Basically, our goal is to provide true online privacy and security to as many people as we can. That also means building awareness around cybersecurity issues and their importance in the connected world. 

As I’ve already mentioned, our story began with NordVPN – currently the fastest VPN on the planet, built to protect our users’ online presence from cybersecurity threats. To put it simply, you can secure your internet data and safely access personal information while browsing with NordVPN.

We also built the same solution for businesses to ensure their employee privacy online while working – NordVPNTeams. Then, there’s NordPass – an easy-to-use password manager used for storing and creating credentials. NordLocker helps to store and share confidential files securely. Finally, NordWL – a collection of tools, know-how, and infrastructure for building your own VPN products. 

These five products form the Nord Security product family and have gained global recognition with high praise from major tech outlets and cybersec experts alike. However, we’re always looking for new opportunities to grow, so the product line-up is definitely not final.

 

 

In your first month as a separate entity, Nord Security already became the 4th most popular company on MeetFrank in Lithuania. Clearly, there’s a lot of interest from the jobseekers at the moment. What’s special about working for Nord Security? Why should people join your organization?

Where do I even begin 🙂 Well, first of all, we’re a fast-growing company with a very dynamic environment set up for professional growth. The essential thing is that every person joining our team gets to build global solutions that solve relevant problems. You can be sure that you’ll be working with top experts from all over the world and gain valuable experience. 

Knowledge sharing is vastly promoted in our company and is, in fact, one of our key values – we have various initiatives, internal and external events, and even separate programs designed for personal and professional growth. Nord Security is also a very diverse company that gives people the freedom to act – you will find plenty of opportunities to express yourself and show initiative. 

 

Could you list some of the perks that your employees enjoy?

Our colleagues enjoy numerous benefits focused on increasing their well-being, like private health insurance, mental health programs, bonus vacation days, in-house physiotherapists, flexible work hours, and more. Also, we’re famous for our workations and various celebrations. 

However, in our opinion, all these perks are simply an addition to our main benefits – a great team, ambitious goals and exciting projects to work on.  

 

 

What about employee dynamics – do you hire more local or global specialists, and does this put additional strain on your HR team?

As our company was founded in Lithuania, we currently have more local team members. However, we’re actively growing our international ranks and have colleagues working in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Romania, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and Brazil.

Hiring worldwide and expanding our reach is certainly more demanding than hiring locally. It’s a challenge to extend a feeling of belonging to team members working remotely. However, the current pandemic situation benefited us in this regard: It accelerated our remote work practices, and now we feel that we’ve become stronger as a global employer.

 

How many vacancies do you have at the moment? Which departments of the company are you expanding the most rapidly?

At the moment, we have more than 80 vacancies waiting to be filled, and mostly we’re looking for professionals to join our teams of Frontend, Backend, Mobile, and Marketing. However, we’re actively expanding other teams as well – take a look at our Career page – I’m sure you’ll find several options, including challenging leadership roles.

View all Nord Security’s job offers on the MeetFrank app:

 

What are the most important qualities when hiring new people to the Nord Security team? Do you have any tips for the applicants to be successful in your hiring process?

We look for people who are passionate about tech and eager to learn new things quickly. The cybersecurity and IT markets are constantly changing. Breakthroughs are coming every day. As a team, we have to be ready for the shifting environment and the challenges it brings. 

We place a high value on people, who challenge the status quo, look for better ways to do things, and do not agonize over decision making. There’s also a lot of focus on teamwork – we believe that magic happens in teams, so there are no individual agents here.

 

Interview with Mikko Kotila, CTO at Cavai & “Mad scientist”

Interview with Mikko Kotila, CTO at Cavai & “Mad scientist”

Cavai, founded in 2018, builds conversational advertising tools with a focus on protecting consumers’ privacy. Their approach seems to be gaining traction, at least judging by their client list, which includes global heavyweights like McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, and HBO. Last year they announced new hires to key senior positions and significant growth plans, accompanied by a funding round.

Cavai’s Chief Technology Officer is Mikko Kotila, a self-described “mad scientist”, who offered us a captivating look into the philosophy behind Cavai’s company culture. Find out what challenges can working in the ad-tech offer to developers, why the best thing a manager can do is to get out of the way of great talent, and what they are looking for in new hires.

 

THE INTERVIEW

Although some of the world’s most valuable brands use your product for advertising campaigns, regular people seldom hear about Cavai itself. How would you describe Cavai’s product to a non-marketing audience?

Cavai has created the first mainstream advertising technology platform that is built “people first.” Unlike thousands of other ad platforms, we never collect or do anything with people’s data. At Cavai, we build everything following strict privacy-by-design principles. I think that is something many people will be able to relate to. We have an undying commitment to making advertising better, and it starts with the fact that it can’t be dependent on exploiting people’s data.

 

 

On MeetFrank, you advertise Cavai’s positions with an ambitious tagline “The most wanted job in ad-tech”. Cavai’s excellent net promoter score 79 seems to confirm this. What makes your company culture unique?

Business is about people and only people. The company and its shareholder value is simply a collection of people and their activities and the results of those activities. I think it is easy to accept that love is a better experience than fear. We actively seek out fear placed approaches, which are rampant in modern corporate culture, and replace them with love based ones. 

Everyone in Cavai has the exact same job description – “Do your best work”. 

And everyone who works in leadership follows the same management principle – “Get out people’s way and make sure they have what they need and want.”

 

Although Cavai has many offices across Europe with HQ in Oslo, you also offer an option to work 100% remotely. Does Cavai have any rules at all concerning the working place and time? What about vacation time?

Our R&D HQ is in Helsinki. We are really thankful for having a strong employer brand in the area surrounding Helsinki. There is tremendous culture for advanced engineering work in that area. 

We have 100% flexibility in terms of where and when you want to work. We are also experimenting with flexible holidays and other less conventional approaches. 

 

Cavai’s stated management philosophy is that the team leaders should communicate the vision and then basically get out of the way of great talent. How did you arrive at this philosophy at Cavai? Have there been any particular experiences in the past that have shaped it?

I think great engineers are looking for mastery in their craft. As much as it is useful to have a relationship with someone looking after you and helping you make small corrections along the way, mastery is very much a personal experience. You will use an incredible amount of time by yourself working on something. It is useful to have guides, but it is there only because then you know you have that kind of support available when you need it and want it. 

 

What can work in the ad-tech sector offer to software engineers that other sectors can’t? Maybe you can introduce a few key issues that Cavai’s development team is tackling right now?

The daily online advertising ecosystem footprint is roughly one trillion connections. Some of the most exciting computational advancements are taking place in advertising technology. There are a lot of technical challenges like concurrency that almost no other industry has.

Because Cavai focuses on creative technology, there is an opportunity for us to make advertising better. Because right now, advertising online is mostly awful and is completely disconnected from people. I prefer that the world is free from ads, but I think it is more realistic to make ads better. Let’s make ads more about people and less about whatever it is about now.

 

Last year, Cavai announced significant growth plans, and with that comes the need for additional team members. What qualities are you looking for when making a new hire?

  • Great cultural fit
  • Active contributor to the open-source community
  • Aspires to attain mastery.

I want to thank everyone who has applied for a job with Cavai or even thought about it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing people. Thank you.

 

Cavai’s open positions:

 

Interview with Agnė Meškaitė, Chief People Officer at kevin.

Interview with Agnė Meškaitė, Chief People Officer at kevin.

kevin. is a fast-growing mobile payments fin-tech from Lithuania, founded in 2018 by CEO Tadas Tamošiūnas, a serial entrepreneur with over ten years of experience in the banking sector, and COO Pavel Sokolovas, whose background is in business development and consulting. 

kevin.’s product, which enables merchants to accept payments directly from bank accounts via an API for services like parking, deliveries, and insurance, is the first time PSD2 has been used to compete with card networks for this type of payment. Currently operating in the Baltics, Poland, the Netherlands and Portugal, the company closed a €1.5 million seed round at the end of 2020 to scale into 15 new European markets this year, bringing its total funding raised to €3.4 million. 

Developing an alternative payments network to credit cards offers unique challenges but also a chance to work in a versatile environment with lots of freedom to organise your time. Agnė Meškaitė, Chief People Officer at kevin., offered us a glimpse into their working culture.

 

INTERVIEW

Some people might be unfamiliar with kevin., as you focus on B2B customers. Please tell us service does kevin. provide exactly? Who are your customers?

kevin. is a payments fintech that provides a secure and developer-friendly payments infrastructure accessible via an API. In layman’s terms, we enable businesses to accept payments directly from banks, cutting out the card networks and making the payments process cheaper, faster, smoother and more convenient.

We are a team of 42 (and growing) passionate people driven by our expertise, ambition, trust and a sense of ownership. Last year, kevin. was named the best fintech in the Baltics at the prestigious Mastercard Lighthouse program, and one of the most promising startups of 2021 by EU-Startups.com.

 

 

2020 was a challenging and transformative year for any business. What did you learn as a company during the year?

For us, it happened to be the first year of growth and scaling as we have hired nearly 40 employees since March 2020. Remarkably, nearly all hiring processes were conducted online. The first challenge we faced was onboarding and integrating our newcomers. We developed a detailed onboarding plan, which included people who were responsible for clarifying our business goals, setting values and mindset for our new employees. 

At the end of last year, we also welcomed a Community Manager to kevin., who takes care of our internal and external employer branding and communication. This step was crucial because many of our colleagues had never met each other in person during their time in kevin., so the roles and team structure had become unclear. Remote work challenges all HR professionals to be creative and support line managers in engaging their teams and sharing a sense of purpose and value. 

 

kevin. has a somewhat unique working culture with minimal rules concerning working time. Could you tell us about your approach?

Our founders have been very clear from the start that the company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working. We believe that if you hire promising talented people, give them the freedom to think and operate, they deliver the best results on time and find smart ways to overcome the obstacles along the way. 

The key to this new way of managing working time is a state called “flow”. We believe that tasks that require a high level of intelligence and creative thinking can only be achieved if the employees are rested, engaged and focused. This is why we do not track hours or have set-in-stone rules regarding working hours. Everyone is free to complete their tasks on their own schedule, as long as deadlines are respected. 

Our company is home to creative and bold achievers who want to build a sustainable payments infrastructure. To do so, they need to feel trusted by the founders, but even more importantly, by their peers as well.

“The company’s focus should be on the results, not on hours spent working.”

 

What reasons led you to make the shift? Was there scientific research behind it?

This mindset mainly came from the previous experience of our C-level team. With support from the founders, we develop company culture based on trust, efficiency and result-orientedness.

The team is everything for our company, so we do our best to help our people do great and feel proud of their work. In an industry like ours, strict working hours do more damage than create value. Thus, we communicate clear expectations and give freedom for everyone to find their own work-life balance. 

 

 

From the employee’s standpoint, more free time certainly sounds nice. However, there might be concerns: removing organizational norms requires excellent time-management skills from employees, people working at different hours might make the team-work more difficult, etc. How did employees react to the change? 

I would not describe this approach as giving more free time to employees, but rather as a benefit of managing your day according to your flow and individual peak productivity hours.

We analyze and evaluate every new hire, position and additional team resources. Based on a robust forecast, we create a plan to efficiently accomplish our goals and meet business targets. We also set clear expectations for each employee and measure their key performance indicators regularly. 

Since we are an IT company, scrum and sprints guide us through the process. For example, our meetings focus on solving issues instead of updating and chatting. This is why the enrollment process is critical and boosts different teams to cooperate and contribute to each other’s success. In short, we empower employees to use our work environment to get the most for their professional growth and satisfaction at work.

 

Although it might be too early for definitive results, could you tell us how the change has worked out so far? Are the employees indeed happier?

Last summer, we asked our employees what they appreciated the most about working at kevin. The answers obviously varied, but the most common notion was a flexible work schedule and the freedom to create and express their opinion. The sense of ownership and the colleagues’ trust boost our employees to execute the boldest ideas and therefore exceed the expectations set by our clients and investors.

 

More and more companies experiment with remote work, flexible work hours, unlimited vacation time, etc. What would you recommend to companies which are looking to replicate kevin.’s approach?

I would recommend carefully assessing the value of a free working schedule for the company. Everything we do for our people and business aims to increase efficiency, simplify processes, and improve employee engagement. Not all companies, and certainly not all teams can work under such flexible conditions. And there are always certain activities that should be scheduled in advance. 

With a mindset toward the ownership of individual tasks should come a certain level of maturity from the team members. Finally, a free working schedule requires explicit internal rules and interpersonal cooperation setup. So, before initiating and implementing this approach, I would think of the purpose and probabilities to make things work better.

 

On a different subject: what channels/methods does kevin. use to find candidates to hire?

Our best friend is MeetFrank, by all means :). We also use LinkedIn, various local and international job portals and… headhunting. 

 

As kevin. operates in the finance and payment processing industry, you are often competing with established international corporations for employees. What are your secrets for attracting talent from corporates?

The market is oversaturated with great employers and competitive job packages. To the best of my belief, there is no secret ingredient that would work every time. 

The common mistake I notice is employers trying to mimic ideas from other successful employers, hoping to get the same results. At kevin., we are very consistent in revealing our unique selling points and thus do not try to fill someone’s shoes. This helps us select the best people that fit our culture and mindset. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a battle between big old corporations and small restless startups for the same candidates. We know what we can offer our talents, and if it is a match, no unnecessary promises have to be made to attract smart people.

“There is no secret ingredient that would work every time.”

 

What kind of mindset are you looking for when recruiting new people to kevin.? 

That’s a great question! I prefer the right mindset over skills and years of experience. In short, everyone, who prioritizes logical reasoning, possesses grit and excels in their area of expertise, has a great chance to thrive at kevin. 

 

kevin.’s open positions:

 

What advice would you give to people looking to get hired in a fast-growing tech company like kevin.?

I would recommend assessing your level of resilience for uncertainty and willingness to work in an agile environment. Also, if you seek to work in a tech company, it is crucial that you are genuinely interested in the product or service the company is developing.