Awesome HR tools for small businesses

Some services are just not "small business friendly." They might lack strong customer support, might be too expensive, and might require employees with very specialized skill set to be able to operate the system.  Plus, old outdated software might make things more difficult, creating latency and reducing efficiency. Sometimes it's inevitable, especially when there are no other real winners out there, but this is why it's important to keep your eyes out for better solutions on the market. 

Because I'm a huge fan of getting things done right the first time, I wanted to write about a few of my favorite HR/Recruiting Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) solutions that will save you a ton of time (and headache) down the line.  New technologies always emerge (so I can't guarantee this list will still be up to date and current 10 years from now), but if you are starting a business now, or in the early stages, look into these SAAS services to get your business running to a good start. You'll be in good hands. 

Echosign (Adobe Document Cloud)

There are a ton of e-signing services out there (like DocuSign, Hellosign) but Echosign is my favorite pick.   Even though Echosign is a bit pricier than the others, it's an established product that is easy to use and intuitive - plus it's backed by Adobe, so you know that your documents are here to stay. I recommended Echosign over DocuSign, for this very reason, but I've heard great things about both (DocuSign gets a plus for integrating with Greenhouse).  

I recommended this product to my current company because we used to send our employment documents by paper, then mail them through FedEx, but I realized that 1) it was eating up a ton of costs and 2) it was not an efficient process. It also has an easy search feature, so even if you send 500 documents, it's easy to track of and store.  Echosign easily took care of a lot of our problems, and has made my life so much easier. 

Greenhouse ATS 

For companies that need a database to keep track of their candidates, Greenhouse is a clear winner, especially for small businesses. Other Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to choose from include Jobvite, Resumator, and Lever, but in my experience, Greenhouse beats them all because of their elegant design and ease of use, plus robust set of features. Some of my favorite features of GH include their email templates (which makes using TextExpander obsolete), and their scheduling email feature (comparable to Boomerang). Plus, GH is absolutely fantastic when it comes to data reporting and analytics, making pipelining and reporting very transparent. Overall, I've been able to save so much extra time because GH helps takes care of a lot of administrative tasks. 

My company had been using Jobvite for a while, and I was afraid to make the switch (because going through data migration and the initial set up sounded like a nuisance), but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. GH has a very impressive and responsive customer care team, so support was never an issue.  Implementation was actually quite easy so if you've been thinking about making a change, don't let this deter you. 

Zenpayroll

Zenpayroll is an up and coming payroll provider, perfect for small companies. They have impeccable design and an easy to use interface, plus an  affordable business model. I haven't used ZP on the business side, but I have used it when being paid out as a 1099 contractor. I really enjoyed having direct access to my online account, paystubs and W2 information - yay for being ecofriendly! 

Our company currently uses ADP Workforce Now and may consider switching in the future (ZenPayroll also integrates with Zenefits, so that's a plus). From a price point standpoint, ZP would save us more money.  The real advantage though is having an intuitive interface (so we could troubleshoot our own issues) and having access to a support team that is easily available (our accountant always has to call when there are issues). I'm sure that our employees would also enjoy having all access to their payroll information as well. 

Zenefits 

Zenefits has been getting a ton of hype lately, but a lot of people seem to be confused about what service it really is. To summarize, Zenefits at the core is an insurance broker (they tie to all of the big carriers like BlueShield, Kaiser, Delta Dental, etc). They are a "free" service to businesses because Zenefits makes money from the health care carriers directly from new employee enrollments (so you don't actually pay anything upfront). They have other bells and whistles tied in their service, like employee onboarding, payroll, time off requests, and employee files. Even if you don't provide insurance for your employees, I believe you can still use Zenefits for employee files, on-boarding and PTO, but it might not be as helpful.

We recently switched to Zenefits and so far feedback has been positive. Implementation took about 2.5 months, so for a while we were in limbo.  There are still a few bugs and features we'd like to see, but their support team is really great and thorough, so I really can't complain. We had a lot of issues with our old insurance broker (mainly about enrollment and lack of transparency), so we hope that this will solve issues moving forward. 

Summary

These are my top picks for any HR/recruiting function that I personally recommend.  If you are thinking about scaling your HR division, or just researching, make sure to check these tools out!  They offer very affordable solutions, especially for small businesses looking to be lean with their HR/recruiting costs.  If I had to start from scratch, I'd make sure to get these set up from the get-go. 

 

 

 

 

6 Creative Approaches to Tackling the Start-Up Job Search

For those looking to leave their corporate grind and wanting to join a start-up, here a few tips on where to start.  Prospecting for start-up jobs is a completely different ball game.  Many of these opportunities are harder to find and will require a more creative approach.  If you've already tapped out LinkedIn careers or The Daily Muse jobs with no luck, try looking into these alternatives. 1) Venture Capital Firms - Check out the top leading venture capital firms, and look through their job portfolio section. Some have portals where you can submit your resume and the in-house VC recruiter will match you with roles from one of their portfolio companies. Others will have a general careers email where you can send over your resume, and someone will respond back if there is a fit.

2) Subscribe to start-up funding news - Sites like CrunchBase Daily give their subscribers daily updates to funding news and acquisitions. It's a great way to get exposure to what's happening in the industry.  Chances are, a company that recently raised an impressive amount of funding will be looking to hire more people. Keep those companies on your radar and keep an eye out for interesting opportunities.

3) AngelList - This website is like the LinkedIn of the start-up world, and it's quickly gaining a lot of traction. You can find tons of information on up and coming start-ups on AngelList, and they also have a jobs board section. Be sure to fill out your profile!

4) Niche job boards - Smaller companies may not have a huge budget to throw money on expensive job boards like Monster or LinkedIn.  Even if they did have the money, it might not be the right type of demographic they are looking to target.  Instead, try niche start-up job sites like Startuphire.com and Ventureloop.  

5) Start-up Incubators - Look into start-up incubators like Y-Combinator and 500 Start-ups to see if any of their companies might be hiring. Some of them have an open forum where community members will post roles of what they are looking for.

6) Networking - Start meeting more people in the start-up community to learn about where they found their opportunity. Let them know that you are looking so if anything opens up, they can help connect you. If you currently don't have a network in the start-up community, you can start building that up by attending relevant meet ups and events in the area.

As always, you can Google any of those websites listed above and type in "competitors" to see what else might be relevant and related.

Good luck!

Looking for a Side Hustle or Want to Boost Productivity? Look Into These Websites

I was speaking to a friend the other day who will be entering graduate school in the fall. She seemed a bit stressed about finances and finding a part-time job while remaining in school.  While helping her brainstorm ideas, I was inspired to write this post. The power of technology is phenomenal and it's amazing how many internet crowd-sourcing resources are out there that can help you make easy money; the main challenge is helping these companies increase visibility with the right consumer and ensuring a high quality of service. While blogging or creating a YouTube channel can definitely bring in extra cash, it may not be a fit for everyone. I complied an extensive list of different websites (and potential opportunities) to help those earn some extra cash on the side. These websites are also great ways for businesses and consumers to boost their productivity and make life easier. This list is applicable to students, stay at home parents, people in-between jobs who want to keep busy, or the over-achieving professional who wishes to do more.

Disclaimer: most of these companies have their own application process and way of evaluating the qualifications of the individual to assess if there is a good fit. The top of the list demands higher skill sets, while the bottom portion tends to require lower skill set (and presents higher risks).  Hourly rate and commission information is pulled directly from their websites and may change accordingly, so be sure to double check on your own. 

Embrace that inner entrepreneur of yours!

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Freelance: Want to find freelancing projects relevant to your skill set? Here are a few sites to check out.

  • ElanceOdesk, and Freelancer: These three platforms are great to browse for remote projects.  There are different projects available, such as writing, data science, legal, IT -- so plenty to choose from!
  • Hourly Nerd: This site is more geared towards MBA students who want to find a side consulting gig while in school.  The site says they are open to general (strong) graduate students as well.

Online Virtual Assistant Jobs: A resource for small businesses or start-ups to outsource their administrative duties.

  • Zirtual and Fancy Hands: For busy people who could use an assistant, but don't know where to look, I recommend checking these sites out. You can apply to be a virtual assistant and work remotely. Zirtual's website writes part time workers get paid $10/hour (full timers get $12/hour with potential benefits); Fancy Hands' website lists they pay from $2.50 up to $7 per task.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk: I'm throwing this in here, though it's probably the least paying project out there (couple cents per task) and requires low skill set. If you have lots of time on your hands and open to micro jobs, then you might want to check this link out.  Either way, Mechanical Turk is a good resource for companies to outsource menial tasks externally.

Tutoring: These platforms help you find and connect with students, enabling you to build up your clientele.

  • Wyzant and University Tutor: I found my GMAT tutor through the Wyzant platform and she was great! I was surprised and impressed at the quality of tutors I found in the Bay Area. Huge ranges for hourly tutoring; I've seen anywhere from $40-$180, but beware of the fees associated for using the platform.

Creative services (Beauty/Fashion/Design): There are many up and coming beauty/fashion start-ups that help independent contractors find more clients.  If you are in the beauty/fashion industry and want to boost clientele on the side, you may want to look into these sites.

  • Fashion: Keaton RowStitch Fix, and Share Some Style are helping people find their individual style and become more fashionable.  Keaton Row is based on a sales commission; Share Some Style stylists can set their own rates, with current rates averaging $40-$90/hour.
  • Beauty: Styleseat is one of the biggest ones out there for individual beauty artists to promote their business, set up their own profile, and create brand awareness. Check out this site for more related examples.
  • Design: Dribbble and DesignCrowd are great for designers to showcase their work and find small projects. My start-up has used these platforms to source for designers.  DesignCrowd allows designers to pick up small projects, such as creating logos, banner and business cards, ranging anywhere from $80-$300.
  • Crafts: Etsy is definitely a big player in the crafting world, allowing local artists to sell and showcase their work.There are also many other similar competitors. I'm a big fan of Etsy whenever I'm looking for something more unique.

Recruiting:

  • RecruitLoop: I included this in here because I'm a recruiter :) I love following their blog, and it looks like a great place for freelance recruiters to find other side projects. Again, there's a fee associated with using the platform; looks like average rate is $100/hour.

Services:

  • TaskRabbit: This is a marketplace where tasks are outsourced to the community; hourly rates will vary and a 20% service fee is charged on each task.
  • HomeJoy and Exec/Handybook: I've heard really great things about these cleaning services, and I believe they are looking for cleaners in their open markets. Homejoy's site claims $12-$15/hour; Exec claims $22/hour as a cleaner and $45/hour as a handyman.
  • DogVacay: If you love dogs, why not dog-sit and get paid for it? Rates vary anywhere from $25-$60, with a 15% service charge for hosts.
  • Rentagent: I read about this a couple months ago, as the company has been getting a lot of press; found the idea hilarious. Nonetheless, throwing this in here, since these gentlemen are making $200/hour and getting paid to go on dates (ya, rly!).

Driving:  Whether you plan to be a driver or not, these sites are amazing for busy consumers who are on the go.

  • UberLyftSidecar: This article claims that Uber drivers can make a good couple thousand per year. I love using this service when I travel. (Disclaimer for drivers: read the insurance policy carefully and be aware of the liabilities and hidden costs (i.e. gas, insurance, revenue share, etc.)
  • Doordash and Fluc: I love using these food delivery services for days I'm really busy and have no time to pick up a meal. I believe both Doordash and Fluc are looking for local drivers to help with food deliveries.  Doordash's website claims that drivers make up to $20/hour; $25/hour for Fluc.
  • Instacart: This is another service focused on delivering groceries.  The website is looking for "personal shoppers" to pick up and delivery food, and can make up to $25/hour.

Sharing Services: If you are open to sharing on the crowdsourcing platform, there are ways you can make extra cash. But of course, there are always risks involved with renting your processions to others.

  • Airbnb: Share your extra room in your house/apartment for some extra cash, but beware of squatters. I've used this a couple times while traveling, and really enjoy the local experience of staying at an Airbnb listing.
  • Getaround: If you're sick of the traditional rental care services, look into this website. You can even rent out your car, and get paid when not using it.  The company takes 40% commission on the service transactions for renting out your car.
  • RelayRides: Similar business model to Getaround, but with a few additional features. You can drop off your car at at airport when you're heading out of town, get free parking and get paid by letting others drive your car when it's not in use! I believe they take 25% of the total reservation.

Whew! That is a lot of information and concludes my list for now. I'm sure there is a ton more out there; you can probably search for others by typing in any of those listed companies + "competitors" into Google, and a bunch more services may pop up.  As always, be sure to network and embrace each opportunity -- you never know what new doors may open up!

Things to Consider and Ask Before Joining a Start-Up

Joining a start-up these days has become increasingly more and more "trendy."  Millennials seem to be awed and drawn in by the awesome perks, huge potential upside of success, and the ability to wear multiple hats to grow quickly in your career. While it sounds glamorous and fun (which it is), there are many things to consider before making the leap from a big, stable company to a small start-up. As a start-up recruiter, I've had to answer a lot of questions from candidates that I'm sure you are all dying to know.

Before jumping in, be sure to ask yourself and your company these things:

Are you willing to put in the time? There's no going around the fact that start-ups will require more dedication and time. For example, when I was interviewing for my current role, the company straight up told me that the hours were 10-8 (hours are better now though). Some start-ups might not let you "shut off work at 5pm," especially when fires happen and you need to handle them right away. When talking to a company, make sure you have a clear understanding of their working hours and expectations (ex: do they allow remote work? what time do people generally start/leave the office?).

Do you believe in the product and mission?  I joke with my friends that you should be willing to drip sweat, blood, and tears for your start-up.  Before you seriously consider joining a company, you should ask yourself whether you believe in the mission and product. What is the company out to achieve? Are they on track to do so? Is it realistic? What has their track record and growth been so far? Afterall, you will be spending the next several years at that company, so you sure as hell must believe in the idea. Overall, because of the high level of demand of working at a start-up, it will be very difficult to keep yourself motivated if you are dispassionate and disinterested in what the company is doing.  I read a recent article saying that if you really believe in the company, you should be willing to go as far as investing your own money.

What does the current financial situation for the company look like? Crucial question to ask. The worst case scenario is that you leave your financially steady job to join a start-up that you think is financially secure, but ends up closing shop after a few months (true story). Do as much research as you can on the funding situation of the company by researching companies like Crunchbase and AngelList; also be sure to ask your hiring manager/recruiter if the company is profitable, what the burn rate is, and how much money so far they've raised.  The numbers may be hard to calculate for start-ups if they are on a hiring-spree and burning money faster than they make, so it's just something to be aware of.  Also, it's important to find out who is backing the company; are they bootstrapping? Leading VC firms? Private equity? Incubators? This will give you insight to the dilution of company shares as well.

Do you believe in the leaders of the company?  One of the biggest reasons why I chose my current company is because of our co-founder, who was one of the first 10 Google employees, an Angel investor, and sits on the board of a leading VC firm. It was a huge draw for me to work under someone of such high caliber, who I trust will make sound decisions for the company.  I recommend everyone take a deep look into the leaders of the company, understand their background, and evaluate whether they are a team you trust. Good leaders will have a plan and vision for the company with undying passion for their work.

Aside from those main points, in general, it really does take the right personality and attitude to join a start-up.  Hard and relevant skills are always great to have in the position, but because things can change so rapidly, employees should both be intelligent and willing to jump in when needed. Even though I'm in the recruiting team here, I've done so many different things in my organization, including HR/payroll & processing visas to being a janitor & grilling burgers at a company event. It keeps me on my toes and I feel useful.

In the near future, I will be writing an article on where to find start-up opportunities. The start-up job search is a little different from your traditional big corporation, and I'm excited to share my tips.