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What am I'm doing wrong (trying to get initial teams onboarded for a team-focused remote job board)?

I built a team-focused remote job board (https://www.goodremotejobs.com). Now I can't get any companies to actually sign up. I've made listing free for a limited time (to get initial teams onboarded) but that hasn't seemed to help. There's a fully self-serve signup and profile creation process (that took a long time to build).

I've sent 58 twitter DMs and have heard back from 6 (!). I've only sent a handful of direct emails and haven't heard back from any.

What am I doing wrong?

Is it a problem with the site's design? name? marketing copy?

Is it a problem with my (lack of) cold "reaching-out" skills?

Grateful for any insight (however brutal!) folks can offer. Thank you (in advance)!

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    What you're getting on this post is exactly what comes with working with target customers while you build. At the very least, start small and add features they crave - as in have pain points and want a solution.

    Others take note :D Even if the first "customer" eventually doesn't "buy" or even "use" if you take too long to build, at least you have some input.

    On the point of populating company/team profiles... You have to make it easy. it might help to just call a few companies and ask for feedback - in exchange for you manually populating. Also, just copy info from their current website/other job boards... Maybe create a nice import tool - given a URL.

    There are many job boards that already solve this to a degree, but likely not as well as you plan to. Ex: Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.

    Don't think in terms of just how you present the solution. Think about how your target is currently solving their problems and what they think about the current way it's done.

    Again, seeking direct feedback to learn the answers (before showing your solution!) is a good way to obtain initial contacts you can then follow up with to ask for direct review. They can then become your initial free users - who might convert if they find real value.

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    Seconding @hatkyinc that the design and copy aren't doing you any favors.

    I spent a decade in HR tech selling to hiring managers and recruiters so that's the hat I wore when reviewing this.

    Here's my thoughts beyond the copy/design updates that are needed:

    I like the idea of your product - high quality job postings are more likely to attract high quality job seekers. Encouraging both employees and employers to be more thoughtful and human in the way they review jobs/applicants is a noble idea.

    With that said, I think you have a really tough problem to solve with the profile structure you've created. You're asking hiring managers/recruiters (I'm not sure who you're prospecting) to take a pretty significant amount of time out of their day to build out an extensive profile about their company, their culture, and their hiring process.

    The end result looks quite nice, but they might already have something very similar on their own careers pages, so rebuilding all of that on a site they've never heard of is a big ask.

    Since you probably aren't generating much/any job seeker traffic, the ask is even bigger. You're basically asking them to take a block of calendar time out of their very busy days to build a profile that isn't likely to return anything of value to them in the near term. Why would they do that instead of just sponsoring a job on Indeed and picking the best of whatever comes in?

    As a hiring manager, I'd happily try out a new job board for free if I can just copy/paste my job posting into their system (or even better, have them do it for me). If I need to put in a bunch of time I'm probably not going to bother unless it is likely to produce a number of high quality applications for my trouble.

    If I were in your shoes I'd be thinking about how I can eliminate the profile creation process OR take on the profile creation process myself as part of onboarding new companies early on. You're still going to have a tough road ahead, but doing everything you can to reduce the ask for the company feels like the best bet.

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      I'm incredibly grateful for this feedback and insight. Like, seriously. It's the most helpful I've gotten on the project since its inception. Thank you!

      I spent a decade in HR tech selling to hiring managers and recruiters so that's the hat I wore when reviewing this.

      This is super valuable experience, thank for sharing from it.

      like the idea of your product - high quality job postings are more likely to attract high quality job seekers. Encouraging both employees and employers to be more thoughtful and human in the way they review jobs/applicants is a noble idea.

      This is good to hear. I was motivated by my frustration of wanting to see more team-specific insight on other job sites (in my own job searching), especially in regards to remote-specific aspect of how they work. For folks who are good at what they do and know they can get pretty much any job within their area of experience, the job details aren't such a big deal (though of course they're still relevant). Often the team details are left until the interview phase, or left out entirely (and only learned after starting the position). For example: A candidate finds a great job but doesn't realize the team tends to send frequent DMs in Slack where timely responses are expected, making deep work harder (make the job a no-go for specific candidates).

      With that said, I think you have a really tough problem to solve with the profile structure you've created. You're asking hiring managers/recruiters (I'm not sure who you're prospecting) to take a pretty significant amount of time out of their day to build out an extensive profile about their company, their culture, and their hiring process.

      Yes, that's the core of the problem – the site's main value proposition/differentiator is something that inherently makes it hard to companies onboarded.

      managers/recruiters (I'm not sure who you're prospecting)

      This made me realize that perhaps it would be worthwhile to reach out to some recruiters. I had thought about this a while back, but so far I've only been focused on reaching out directly to teams.

      Since you probably aren't generating much/any job seeker traffic, the ask is even bigger. You're basically asking them to take a block of calendar time out of their very busy days to build a profile that isn't likely to return anything of value to them in the near term. Why would they do that instead of just sponsoring a job on Indeed and picking the best of whatever comes in?

      My thinking here was that the "free for a limited time" onboarding period/promotion would help with this. However, I'm now thinking that it may be common for employees to not be too concerned about saving their company money. If this is true, the free promotion may help, but it's not going to 100% sell it.

      But to further answer the question, the idea is that team profiles stay up forever (for free after listing an opening) and act as continual recruiting "nets." Users can follow teams, so teams can see that X number of users are following them and will get alerted once they post a new opening. So the site serves as an applicant faucet that companies can turn on/off as their hiring needs require.

      In other words:

      Recruiting is not hiring

      Recruiting is actively seeking the best people to create the best possible team

      Hiring is pulling the trigger

      Founders should always be recruiting

      (source)

      As a hiring manager, I'd happily try out a new job board for free if I can just copy/paste my job posting into their system (or even better, have them do it for me). If I need to put in a bunch of time I'm probably not going to bother unless it is likely to produce a number of high quality applications for my trouble.

      Yeah, ultimately the "produce a number of high quality applications for my trouble" part should come, but the challenge of course is getting there (the traffic and subscribers).

      If I were in your shoes I'd be thinking about how I can eliminate the profile creation process OR take on the profile creation process myself as part of onboarding new companies early on. You're still going to have a tough road ahead, but doing everything you can to reduce the ask for the company feels like the best bet.

      I don't think there's any way I can eliminate the profile creation process, since it's such a core part of the site's value proposition/differentiator. That leaves me with personally handling the profile creation process here early on (I've already done this with the only two teams listed so far, and it was a lot of work, but perhaps after 20-30 or so of these other companies will be more likely to onboard themselves). Another thought is to partially onboard the companies (i.e. not fully finish the profiles) and then reach out to the companies for either having them finish them or providing the insight needed to finish them (especially with "personality," this may be the only way to go, at least with some teams).

      Seconding @hatkyinc that the design and copy aren't doing you any favors.

      I'd love to hear if you think the recent changes I made on these fronts are improvements. Otherwise, are there specific pages that suffer from this more than others?

      Again, thanks for the super insightful and helpful feedback.

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        I think the updates are improvements, yes, nice job on getting out the chainsaw. I think the header is a little wordy but you can probably use the pruning shears instead of the chainsaw for your next few rounds of revisions :)

        This made me realize that perhaps it would be worthwhile to reach out to some recruiters. I had thought about this a while back, but so far I've only been focused on reaching out directly to teams.

        I think you're going to have better results working with recruiters/HR leaders. In most companies with dedicated HR and recruiting teams, the hiring managers aren't going to be taking a leading role in candidate sourcing and applicant generation. In many places, hiring managers will not even have permission to post jobs or create profiles like this directly.

        Recruiters at more forward-looking companies are also more likely to get excited about your messaging. Their whole job is finding and hiring great people. Hiring managers might get excited, but they generally aren't focused on recruiting in the same way and so aren't going to be as inclined to take a chance on something like this.

        That leaves me with personally handling the profile creation process here early on (I've already done this with the only two teams listed so far, and it was a lot of work

        This is a key point. It was a lot of work for you, the founder of the business and the best person in the world at using your software. Think about how much work it feel like for someone who isn't you!

        I know the profiles are a key component of the product so just cutting them won't fly, and I hear you that profiles will just be a one-time task that you (theoretically) get value from forever. I still think you will need to take that profile creation task on yourself early on. If you find some traction, you're probably still going to find profile creation is a huge barrier to new employers - you might even consider charging an onboarding fee (in the future, once you have traction) and doing the initial setup for each employer in-house.

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          I think the updates are improvements, yes, nice job on getting out the chainsaw. I think the header is a little wordy but you can probably use the pruning shears instead of the chainsaw for your next few rounds of revisions :)

          Yeah, agreed on the header being too wordy. I tried to simplify it a bit. Copywriting is deceptively hard!

          I think you're going to have better results working with recruiters/HR leaders.

          Any suggestions on how to start with this?

          It was a lot of work for you, the founder of the business and the best person in the world at using your software. Think about how much work it feel like for someone who isn't you!

          True, though it was largely because I had to research a lot about the companies.

          I still think you will need to take that profile creation task on yourself early on. If you find some traction, you're probably still going to find profile creation is a huge barrier to new employers - you might even consider charging an onboarding fee (in the future, once you have traction) and doing the initial setup for each employer in-house.

          Yeah, I'm afraid you're right. I have some ways in mind to simplify it, and going through the process myself will help me iron out further areas it can be improved.

          The idea of charging an onboarding fee once there's traction is something I've definitely thought about, and it's likely a good strategy.

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    • The site looks really amateurish/old style design wise, the image choice down is really bad.
    • The copy is really unclear. Is it me applying as a team in place of as an individual?
      I'm really not sure what this is trying to communicate, are you just slicing a company into its teams? what's the scope of a team? how should it resonate with me?...
      Like even the current example of engineering inside gitlab, what about it?...

    I'm guessing this is built by a technical person with no input from either design or marketing contexts, it's where many of us start, but traction is really hard that way

    Also don't confuse working hard with accomplishing, customers normally don't care if you worked 5 years with the latest and greatest or you just configured an opensource with 1 click, they only react to what they see/experience

    1. 1

      Thanks for the helpful and honest feedback!

      I'm guessing this is built by a technical person

      Yes, guilty as charged.

      I've made changes to the design and the copy. I'm hoping they're improvements(?), but it's still just me (developer) doing this without direct help from a designer (which I'll likely do in the future).

      The bits you pointed out on the copy were 100% valid (I had totally missed them). The "teams" are groups within companies that list openings. The hierarchy is company -> team -> opening. For each company there can be multiple teams, and for each team there can be multiple openings. For a long time I went back and forth with whether the site should follow this pattern or whether there should simply be one company/team with openings (like 99% of other job boards). The reason I ultimately settled on having both a company and a team construct was to better support companies that:

      • have multiple "teams" which work somewhat as mini companies within their larger company (in this case, each team may have different communication practices, personality, etc) – GitLab is a good example of this.
      • are not 100% remote, where perhaps only the software team is remote but the rest of the company is not

      But your point helped me see that having a company listing page (at least seeing primary nav links to it) likely only adds to potential confusion, so I removed it (at least the links to it - may remove it entirely eventually, though I suppose it could help with SEO).

      I'm hoping that with the style and copy changes (improvements(?) hopefully) the site's in a better position now to at least not turn away visitors. The next immediate task at hand is likely going to be manually creating profiles myself (following up with @davidcolby's comment next).

      Again, really grateful for the feedback. Thank you!

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        Do you think the company teams is a worthwhile USP?
        Are you going to demonstrate it on your site? (currently, you have 1 team per company)
        Do you think a team is something the candidate can resnote with on the same level as the org does? and do they expect the same thing? like "does it really matter to both sides and do they agree on what that means?" cause a team can be cut many ways...

        I might just be playing devil's advocate with my questioning line

        The current homepage is light years better (and you mostly just deleted stuff I think :D ) you can still probably iterate it a time or two

        1. 1

          Do you think the company teams is a worthwhile USP?

          I'm not sure if it's a worthwhile USP, but it does lend a lot more flexibility that will hopefully accommodate a wider-range of company types.

          Are you going to demonstrate it on your site? (currently, you have 1 team per company)

          Yes, that's the goal.

          Do you think a team is something the candidate can resnote with on the same level as the org does? and do they expect the same thing? like "does it really matter to both sides and do they agree on what that means?" cause a team can be cut many ways...

          Yeah, that's a good question. I've worked for companies where the whole team interviews candidates. It's literally like "hey, come work with our team... and oh yeah, this is our company." I'm not sure how common this is.

          I might just be playing devil's advocate with my questioning line

          Grateful for it! It's helpful!

          The current homepage is light years better (and you mostly just deleted stuff I think :D ) you can still probably iterate it a time or two

          Thanks. "and you mostly just deleted stuff I think :D" Haha, yeah, exactly. Yeah, there's certainly still room for iteration and improvement, but the more immediate task seems to be manually creating more profiles (sigh).

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