Storytelling about DistantJob with Sharon Koifman
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 84. This week we have storytelling about DistantJob with Sharon Koifman. During this episode, Sharon and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for using DistantJob.
Sharon is an expert in all things remote work and remote management. His passion for placing full-time permanent, career-driven individuals in remote positions really comes through during the podcast.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Show length: 23 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Sharon on from DistantJob. We’re going to be talking a little bit about his business. And we’re gonna be talking about the use case for DistantJob. So, Sharon, do us a favor and introduce both yourself, but also introduce DistantJob?
Well, first of all, thank you, William, what a pleasure to be on the show. My name is Sharon Koifman, I run a very unique recruitment agency that specializes in remote employees, I actually been working in the remote field for for about 18, maybe even 20 years by now. Where I’ve been managing companies from all over, from my managing company, all from my computer, with people all over the world with products all over the world. And at this moment, the company that I’m running for the best 12 years, is focused on going to the world and finding the talents that would do that for you. So it’s strictly anywhere in the world from taking advantage of the massive pool of talent of great people that are out there, and they work remotely for your company. But those are full-time permanent, career-driven individuals.
Perfect. I love the setup. So how did you get into this? How did you, how did you start DistantJob?
So I started, I used to own a web hosting and outsourcing company where I had two offices in India and a bunch of employees there. And it was called Empire Host and I was providing the usual design, sometimes even building software for individuals. And it made great sense when a real estate company would come in and say, Hey, Sharon, build me a web design, you seem a pretty affordable solution. And I would go about doing that.
But every once in a while I would get a suffer company, a company whose core skills were to build that type of product. And they would outsource to me because it was cheaper. Because I was very good for the world of India back then. Outsourcing clearly meant India and 15 years ago, India was the pioneer in that industry. And, and I realized very quickly that they’re outsourcing not because it’s to their benefit, it’s almost a business sin. They’re giving their sole product to somebody else because it’s cheap. And I realized all they really want is to find amazing people that are affordable. They don’t need that management operation, they will do it much better. And when I sold the web hosting and outsourcing company, I started DistantJob based on that, and I focused on just finding amazing talent that works directly for the client. And though in my opinion, is a far better solution for that offshore model. Where that today is pretty known for everyone.
I love that and the companies that you work with what’s this? Let’s talk a little bit about your clients. What type of industries is DistantJob helping? What type of job classes, geographies, let’s get into kind of how and where you help people.
So the majority of my clients are small to medium-sized technology companies usually range between 10 employees to about 100 employees. Those are the usual companies that we target. They are technology companies or they have a substantial technology department. It seems like any company today, we used to work with Warner, the big ladder company, the biggest ladder company in the world. And but really what we’re working with their e-commerce department, so anybody who is building a digital product, we are the solution for them.
I love that. I love that. How do you? I mean, as you studied the market, how do you compare yourself to or? Or who do your customers and prospects, who do they compare you to?
So it’s very hard because we’re the first I should have mentioned in the beginning. We’re the first remote recruitment agency in the world. There is a lot of companies that provide freelancers and their marketplaces like Upwork, or Fiverr. And there’s plenty of recruitment agencies out there that slowly because of COVID are transferring into the remote world. And that’s usually where our clients compare us on, ask, how are we doing compared to those type of companies, but I don’t know. Too many companies or big branded company that is really a specialist remote recruitment agency like us. We’re the first. And I like to think maybe I could be delusional or maybe not as humble, but I think we’re the best.
I love that. I love that. I love it. How do you, I normally ask us towards the end of the show, but it’s probably pertinent towards the beginning. How do you, when I ask pricing, I don’t want to know the dollars and cents, it’s more of the philosophy, how do you work with clients.
Um, it is somewhat straightforward. Like a local recruitment agency, we get the job description. If you don’t have a job description, we work with you to make a job description. But here’s where we take it to the next level, when when we get some of the information about what the client needs, we still sit there and find out about the client’s culture, processes, what makes it exciting. Because we are selling to the candidates as much as we selling to the client.
So we really want to learn the intricacies of what makes our client’s company work and what makes it exciting. And we turn out the job description to almost be some art, we’re really excited about making our job description funny and enticing. That people say, I want to work for that company. And then after that, we go and we solicit individuals, usually in established companies across the world, which is a huge differentiator from those marketplaces where it’s passive people trying to get a job.
Here, we solicit the best and the smartest. And then we entice them with the concept that they get to work at home. And a lot of people in the tech industry I, I would say a lot of nerds are in love with the idea of working from home. They don’t have this need for this social experience that comes off. If you give them the same pay, the same experience, and they don’t need to be stuck in traffic for two hours? They will take it.
So we get this, we get a lot of results doing that. And after that, we take it to the next level by providing an impeccable HR service. Not only we make sure that we take care of the salaries, making sure that people get paid well. And we remind the clients about vacations, about national holidays, about raises, about bonuses, we pay attention to the mental health of the individual. We also let the client know about the working condition now with COVID. We tell them how their countries are doing in relation to COVID. So which will possibly affect the mental health of their employees. So we go above and beyond also not just finding amazing people but making sure that they stay around feeling motivated and excited about working for the company.
So two questions. One is going to be around onboarding. But the other is when clients start with this job, where are they generally? What’s the start off place? Where do they start working with you, and fix that and then move into other services that you have?
So they start at the beginning, in the recruitment process. We don’t get into HR of course until they give us the job description. We send them a CV with a full description about the qualification of the individual and our full evaluation. The client goes, I want this person, that person, and this person I want to interview and it’s a back and forth until they decide this is the right person. And only then do we start charging the client.
I love that. Okay, so your clients have asked you I’m sure about onboarding especially as it relates to remote work. And and and things like that. So how do you consult with them? Or what is your advice to them about onboarding remote employees?
So, so the advice is a big thing. Look, I don’t know if you know William, I’m also a best-seller writer, when it comes to remote management. I did write an entire book about it, but I sit with my clients and if they’re not experts in remote management, I sit and I teach them, and I, all for free, all part of the service to make sure. Because if they are good remote managers means that there’s going to be a lot more business. If they hate the experience, it’s a lose-lose situation.
So the first advice, I mean, we don’t have enough time for all the advice in the world, right? Because I need to sit with somebody for an hour. But the first thing that I ask the client to think about is, what are their processes? What do they like in their office experience? What is it that they do, that makes them feel like they’re in control, and their culture is good and operation?
So for example, if somebody says, I like to visit each one of my employees every week, and look at their work and chat with them, and motivate them and inspire them. I take away the fear when they go to remote and tell them, you can do exactly the same thing. Don’t change it. This works for you. There’s a lot of things in the office that doesn’t work.
There’s a lot of distractions, there’s a lot of bureaucracy, there’s a lot of politics, but the things that you like, if you’re the type of manager that goes around and inspires and motivate and train and fixes things. With every individual, once a week or once a day, you need to keep on doing this. And you need to turn on your zoom, you need to make sure that it’s face to face, you can do it by phone. But you visit every person or every person in your team through zoom, and do the same experience, it’s really not a big difference. At the end of the day, you want to replicate your positive experiences in the office, right into the remote experience.
Yeah. And what I’ve also learned from other experts like yourself, is you want to set them up for success, as you would in the office. The headquarters, you want to make sure that if they’re home-based, you want to make sure that you set them up for success there as well.
Absolutely. They’re like, first of all, the science, the research is showing that people that work remotely are more productive. They’re happier, they’re more independent. There is no reason to fear remote. Besides that, it’s completely, besides that it’s new. People have been working in the office, they associate office with productivity, with a nine to five, they’ve been doing this for hundred, a hundred years or at least one and a half centuries. Right. And now you tell them no, you can get, you can achieve everything at home. Just use proper technology, and you can replicate the positive things. But the biggest obstacle is fear. Is that this is not something that I’m used to. Because science shows that people, the remote work workers are more productive.
I love this. So because you’re an expert, I got to ask you a couple of just basic things. What do we get wrong with remote management? What’s in the top three things that we just need to fix immediately and we can get into some of the deeper stuff in the next calls and next podcast. But what are just your basic advice for people that are scared or they just never done it? Even though we’ve been through COVID? Maybe they’ve just done it at gunpoint and not done it well. What are the three things that you usually advise people?
So the first one is actually what I just talked about is that you got to remove the fear. You got, you cannot come to this feeling like you’re like you said, at gunpoint. The reality that you must do this, you need to come into this thinking that, hey, I can make my company better. There are just too many times where I that I sell my service to some CEO and he’s excited, “Wow, this is great,” and everything.
And then he delegates it to the CTO and the CTO is dreading the experience. And this is a guaranteed failure because he feels that this doesn’t make sense. At the end of the day, again, what you need to do is just implement few technologies and try to think about what is it that I like in my office, office work and you absolutely need to insist to replicate it with the remote. And everything is replicable.
So the second advice, there’s actually one thing that is not replicable. And that is of the hanging out and hanging out in the at the water cooler or the mental health. People, people kind of get to disappear to as I call remote la-la land if there’s not a manager that is actually paying attention to the well-being of the people. So this is that, in my opinion, the only difference between office management and remote management. And in theory, all great managers in an office would be amazing at remote, but there’s just too many, too many managers that got away with not being so great. And here they’re pushed through, they’re pushed to their limits, and they have to perform. And one of the things that they don’t do, weaker managers, is actually taking care of the mental health, getting intimate with employees. Get to know, build that culture, build that connection, and in remote, you have to do it. You cannot have this “out of sight out of mind.” You need to be proactive and check in your employees on a personal level and on a business level.
I love everything. And again, we could spend an hour just talking about this. Yeah, I loved your note earlier about commutes. Because I think people will rethink not just the big cities, but just, they’re going to rethink commutes. In terms of the jobs and the jobs in the future, it’s especially like in places like San Francisco or LA, or New York, where commutes are an hour, an hour and a half. You know, one way that’s, that’s, that’s a bit much.
Now that they’ve worked remotely for a year and a half, I think, I think it’s gonna be really the big rethink, is kind of going to be coming for a lot of candidates, but also companies. You know I equally hear that companies are giving up their headquarters space, or not renewing their lease. So on both sides, I hear kind of both. So I think we’re all kind of rethinking that.
With DistantJob, so the clients that you have right now, again, you’ve explained kind of the process of most starting them, and then where you’d like to you take all your clients, what what do you think that we won’t go out flying cars wise, but what’s the next 18 months? For the future of DistantJob? What does that look like for you?
It’s already been happening. The future is started, the future started when, when people start getting remote a little bit better. I mean, one of our biggest obstacles has always been that people are just so afraid of the remote concept. And you’re mentioning San Francisco. San Francisco is by far our most challenging region because they invested two decades or even more to get people to Silicon Valley. To say that if you want investment, and if you want great jobs, and if you want anything to do with technology, you must come to us. And even when I talk to people in Silicon Valley about remote employees, they want those remote employees to work 10 minutes away from them so they can get them to the office anytime that they want. It is without a doubt the most challenging culture.
I don’t even bother with California. Like my salespeople know, you know, we like the East Coast because of it. No disrespect to the West Coast but the West Coast, they have a lot of evolution to do in this concept. But getting to understand remote is a major obstacle and a major evolution in everything that we’ve been doing till now. I mean that was the biggest challenge. The challenge for me is not to find amazing candidates. That’s what we do, they are incredible.
It was actually convincing the client. Hey, you should and you can get amazing people working in a distributed environment. Because then everybody was thinking freelancers are non-committed employees, outsourcers. They were not thinking about career-driven, fully focused, fully integrated people. Because for them, it means they need to come to the office. So this is what changes in the future. I guess people are finally starting to get it. It’s very good for my business, I’m not gonna lie to you.
Well, they’re also facing an exodus in California. A lot of people are moving, both in LA, Southern California, Northern California. They’re moving inward a little bit. Not all the way in the East Coast, but they’re moving to Denver and Salt Lake, and even Austin. They’re moving inward a little bit which is kind of interesting.
I don’t think land prices are gonna go down in California anytime soon. But it is everything kind of yeah never exactly they’ll probably raise but it is creating a kind of interesting dynamic. In terms of these other cities that you know become are becoming more of a metropolis with this type of talent.
I know during the pre-show we talked about DistantJob being you know a services play. And that’s really you know, the core is obviously what you care about. But you also interact with a lot of tech yeah and non stop right. So so, or it being a services play makes you a little bit you can be objective about the technologies that your clients use. Do you find yourself making recommendations? Like you found something that really really works and do you find yourself making, or do the job clients ask you for recommendations around technology?
Not really, right? So we have. So to be honest, I’m already rusty. I was a techie. I’m an engineer. But I no longer deal with that. But we have some brilliant techies in the company, that still sometimes give advice. But I really, really believe that the best, the best ideas and the best management and the best strategy has to come from the company itself. From my clients. I need to cater to their needs, I need them to work. I need them to work by their system.
And my job is to educate them and teach them how to replicate this in a remote environment. A lot of the remote people, when you go to the remote conferences, and some of my colleagues are talking about the big change. I don’t believe in it. I believe that these people have built beautiful companies, they have created certain amazing cultures, amazing processes that turned them into the massive beast that they are, right. I mean, you can leave a few things behind. But my job is to replicate that experience in remote, which I believe it’s so easy with just just a few smart technologies.
That is wonderful. Okay, last question. What else should the audience know about DistantJob that we haven’t already kind of talked through?
What else we should know? I already, I think the most important aspect and the end, the biggest differentiator when you talk to a remote recruitment agency, instead of an outsourcing company or marketplace, is that these are people that want a real job. These are people that joined because they’re excited to work for you as a client. If you are coming into the DistantJob experience, and you’re thinking this is just going to be another number on the wall, right? It’s just going to be just another individual, another individual that I’m outsourcing or maybe I use temporarily, you’re going to fail at our solution. Because these people need more from you. They need to have a real employment experience. So you’d better be equipped!
My friend, this is wonderful. Thank you so much. And now that I know that you’re a remote management expert, I am going to tap that. Because I get questions all the time, and then you would be perfect to talk to folks.
I would be happy to answer any questions.
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, and thanks for coming onto Use Case Podcast.
William, that was a lot of fun.
Thank you. And thanks for everyone that listens to Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.