Hiring

 

We are not the permanent team solution for our clients. They often want to know:

  • How do I find a technical co-founder?
  • How can I learn to "do it myself"?
  • How do I hire designers and developers?

We tell them:

  • To find a technical co-founder, network in person at user groups and online at LinkedIn and AngelList. Is what you really need a designer founder?
  • To learn to do what we do, sit next to us in our office for weeks at a time, pair programming and sketching together.
  • To hire someone, follow the same process we use, detailed below.

Recruiting

We've met our future teammates via:

  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Networking

We met David because he had a friend in common. He was in Lisbon at the time. Due in part to his work, we only had the chance of working together months later. We were certain that we would be the best fit for us. He moved to Viana where there we have our office. It is his hometown, so he was happy with this choice.

Many of us visit regulars tech events. We met a lot of young and bold potential candidates that we are excited to invited them into our office.

A nice thing about those meetings are that they happen naturally. We're not trolling looking for people or fishing for talent at groups and conferences. We're there, anyway. If we never hired again, we'd still be going, be members of mailing lists and going to events.

We know what we'll get when we hire in the above ways. We know their personality and energy level from the user group. We know their coding style. We know they'll take initiative because they voluntarily contributed to the community.

We don't work with outside recruiters. We've found they don't present us with people that would be a good fit for our team, and are often disingenuous about the candidates they have. Overall, it isn't worth the effort reviewing lots of unqualified candidates.

 

Interviewing

We track each candidate's progress in the interview process.

We manually enter people into a spreadsheet for personal introductions. People who apply on our website will get them.

Our CEO, Ricardo, leads the hiring process. He ensures that everyone gets a response and he speaks with everyone before they are hired.

Anyone can do an initial review of the candidate's application. In particular, they review the candidate's code sample or portfolio. If necessary, they may ask someone else (like a designer or developer) for another pair of eyes on the code or portfolio.

We either send them a rejection or an email based on this template, moving them to the "Non-Technical Interview".

Our hiring process is:

 

  1. Chat in person or via Call with Ricardo, the CEO of Picus, for 30 minutes. Ask all the questions you have about PICUS. He will ask you a few questions to better understand your motivations.

  2. Chat in person or via call with a PICUS teammate for 60 minutes to talk about your work. They ask technical questions and make sure your ability is at the level we’re looking for.

  3. Schedule a day to come in and work with us on a small project, getting to know the team and show you can deliver and communicate well on real work.

 

Ricardo will pull the managing director, designers, or developers into subsequent discussions.

After the non-technical interview, the next step is the technical interview. We have standard questions for Web developers, Mobile developers, and designers for the technical interview. We don't use puzzles or code challenges. Instead, we prefer reviewing actual work the candidate has done, and talking to them about design process, architecting systems, and writing code; the same thing we do for work every day.

The final step for candidates is to visit us for a day. We pay for their transportation and a night in the hotel if needed or lives too far. On that day, developers pair program with one of our developers in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Designers pair in the morning and work on a small product design project throughout the day and then present at 4pm. It primarily involves sketching and working with one PICUS designers.

We do the interviews this way because there's no substitute for seeing someone actually do the work and interacting with the team. We also want candidates to experience what the company is like for themselves.

Aside from technical skill, during the entire interview process, we look for character strengths like enthusiasm (invigorates others), focus (pays attention, resists distractions, remembers directions), composure (remains calm when critiqued, doesn't interrupt), gratitude (shows appreciation), curiosity (eager to explore, asks questions to understand, actively listens), optimism (gets over frustrations quickly), grit (finishes what he or she starts, doesn't get blocked), emotional intelligence (demonstrates respect for others' feelings, knows when and how to include others), humor (likes to laugh, makes others smile), and appreciation of beauty (notices and appreciates beauty and excellence).

To be hired, the candidate must get a unanimous "yes" from the existing teammates with whom they interacted.

 

Offer and Onboarding

We send the offer and get them signed without the "print and scan" process on either end.

Offers are reviewed and approved by at least one member of the C-level executive team before being sent. C-level executives and Managing Directors can execute offers on behalf of PICUS.

When the offer is accepted, we run a custom onboarding app which we wrote. It creates the teammate's email address, gives them access to systems like Gitlab and Slack, sends them their Employment Agreement, notifies Accounting, sends a welcome email to the teammate, and creates a todo list for the hiring manager for any remaining manual items that we haven't been able to automate.

We assign a pair to new team members who acts as a guide on their first day. The pair helps them set up their machine, purchase any required software, and walk them through one turn of the development cycle by getting their profile added to our website. The pair also makes them feel comfortable, answers questions they may have, or points them to the person who can answer their questions.

 

Compensation

We are entirely bootstrapped, with no outside investors, and no debt. We are paid for consulting only four days each week.

Sustainability of the company is very important to us. We want to bring great people on at reasonable salaries and reward them as aggressively as possible for actual performance.

We may never be able to compete dollar for dollar with other tech companies but we can compete on being a great place to work, with lots of opportunities to learn, and the freedom to define and execute on our own projects.

Salary increases are the natural result of improvement, and occur company-wide on a yearly basis. Our manager may increase our salary in a way that is compatible with the company's finances and individually appropriate to us based on things we've done, such as:

  • creating great software
  • making users, teammates, and clients happy
  • improving ourselves by learning something new
  • improving PICUS by bringing in sales, mentoring a teammate, contributing to an internal tool or research
  • improving our community by writing blog posts, contributing to open source, or attending conferences
  • doing the things we didn't think to put on this list

Our salary increase may also include adjustments based on market conditions and cost of living increases.

It's important that our manager explains why a raise is being given and what, if anything, could be done to receive a higher raise next time. We don't get raises for "just showing up."

 

Quarterly Reviews

In order to continually improve ourselves and the company, all year round on every project we're on, we receive regular feedback from clients, managers, and teammates. We additionally have formal quarterly reviews.

During onboarding, a "Quarterly Review" calendar event is created, set to recur once every 3 months, starting from the hire date.

Ahead of the quarterly review, our manager collects anonymous feedback from everyone we've worked with in the quarter, and everyone in our office. The team feedback is shared with us before the review.

The agenda for quarterly reviews is roughly:

  • Review the feedback from team members
  • Our performance on recent consulting projects
  • Our investment time contributions
  • Our satisfaction with our work, projects, and the company
  • Our questions about PICUS and our strategy
  • Our areas of focus for the next quarter

The results of the quarterly review are recorded and influence future compensation increases.


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