Recruitment & Hiring, Startup Advice

Pixc founder Holly Cardew uses emojis to secure the best remote hires — and thinks you should too

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Pixc founder Holly Cardew.

Pixc founder Holly Cardew.

For startups looking for their first remote hire, the key to getting the best people on board could very well lies in emojis, according to Pixc founder Holly Cardew.

In a Youtube video, Cardew says she has hired about 400 remote staff in 12 different countries.

But whether they’re looking for freelancers or full time employees, how can startup founders make sure they find the right remote staff? Cardew has some advice.

Keep your ad specific

There are “a ton” of freelancing platforms, Cardew says, and while she tends to use Upwork, she also points to sites like Freelancer.com, Speedlancer, PeoplePerHour and Cloudpeeps.

Once you’ve selected your preferred platform, it’s time to craft your ad.

“Write out a job that’s really, really relevant to what you’re hiring for, and not be so vague, because what will happen is that anyone and everyone will apply for your job,” Cardew says in the video.

If the position you’re filling is very specific, or requires very particular skills, making this clear will “make your life easier”, she adds.

Ask for an emoji

Within the job description, Cardew suggests asking applicants to start their cover letter with an emoji.

This way “it will be easier for you to cull the applicants who haven’t followed your instructions”.

While it can be challenging when a candidate is otherwise perfect, but hasn’t read the instruction properly, it’s important to let those people go, says the entrepreneur.

“Basically filter through the applications and delete the ones that didn’t follow your instructions,” Cardew says.

Interview for culture before skills

Next, Cardew suggests choosing between two and four people to interview, and interviews should lasting just 15 to 20 minutes.

That’s usually enough “to find out if the person is the right fit for your company culture”, she says.

Cardew always interviews for culture first, before digging into the applicants’ skill sets.

“Company culture is the most important thing to build with a remote team,” she says.

“They could have the most amazing skill set, but if they can’t fit with your team, it’s never going to work,” she adds.

Once an applicant has passed the culture interview, Cardew sets them a trial task, which is usually paid.

This will likely be a set project related to the role, such as putting together a set of social media posts, writing some code, or answering a few customer service queries.

Build trust

It can be a good idea to hire people on a two- to four-week probation period, Cardew says, but be clear with the new employee that it’s a trial so you build a trusting relationship from the offset.

“Even though you can fire them at any time, you’re not just going to let them go, you’ve given them warning that this is a trial run,” she says.

Once they pass this point, you can scale up their hours and start to “really integrate them into the team”, she says.

Throughout the process, it’s important to keep the company culture in mind, and to create a good onboarding experience, as remote team members often “don’t have anything else”, Cardew says.

“If you can include them in your company from the beginning, they’re going to … actually enjoy their work, and are part of a bigger vision and mission,” she adds.

NOW READ: Four tips for avoiding a ‘bad hire’ and making sure you find the right fit

NOW READ: Ditching ‘culture fit’: Inclusive culture starts with inclusive hiring, says Atlassian’s Aubrey Blanche

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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