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Hiring Tips

In order to build a team, you first need to hire them. Hiring the best person for each role takes a few different steps: first, you have to define the perfect role and write a job description, then you have to post it in all of the best places for candidates to find. After you’ve screened a few candidates, and are ready to interview, what does your hiring strategy look like?

Hiring Tips

Do you want to staff for 24/7 support? How much should you pay the right candidates? This is all just the beginning of your team building journey but is integral to its success. Here are some of the best ways to ensure that you go about hiring the right way the first time, rather than having to go back and revise your strategy.

Creating a Job Description

To get excellent members on your support team, you need to create excellent job descriptions to attract them to your company. Crafting an amazing job description eludes even the best managers — it’s easy to get bogged down on the requirements or job duties, and forget that the job description is actually an advertisement to attract an excellent candidate. There are a few key things to include and remember every time you’re writing a new description.

Necessary pieces to include in a job description

No matter what you include in your job description, or how you write it, there are a few pieces of information that need to be in every job post that you make. New potential employees need to know some key points about the role in order to make sure that it fits their needs and to measure themselves up to what you’re looking for. If you don’t include information such as the job title, a job summary, examples of job responsibilities, and necessary qualifications, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to compel anyone to apply for your role. That being said, there are definitely some ways that you can spice it up through personalization to make the post unique and interesting — that’s going to be the best way to get people to apply that fit your culture and the team you’re trying to build.

Make sure to include the following pieces of information on every job description you write:

  • Job Title
  • Job Summary
  • Responsibilities and Goals
  • Hours and Location
  • Qualifications and Skills Required

Choose your words wisely

How do you refer to what you are looking for and what you want a person coming into this role to accomplish? For example, do you refer to people working on your customer support team as “agents” or “representatives”? Do you want customer support team members to “do” certain tasks, or are you keen on them “accomplishing” things and getting them done?

As you write your job description, focus on action-oriented language that makes the role and the person within it feel empowered to do the work that energizes them. For example, instead of saying something like:

you’ll help customers with questions in the inbox

...you could say something like:

empowers customers by providing assistance and guidance to questions via email, chat, and video.

If you read one of those, wouldn’t you be more inclined to respond to the latter rather than the former?

Job descriptions are important, too, and should flow with the culture of your company. While some companies like Full Story call their support team members “Huggers” others, like Chatra or Wistia, call them Customer Champions. If neither of those fit for your needs, something like Customer Support Representatives, which Trello calls their employees, might have a good ring to it, and is slightly less hyperbolic.

In their job description, Figma showcases areas of responsibility that customer support agents can take on, depending on their own interests:

  • Work with our Product Education Specialist on drafts of new help center articles.
  • Write scripts for new video tutorials and work with our small production team.
  • Do you have SQL skills? Write queries and create dashboards for monitoring our support KPIs.
  • Help us compile and organize an internal knowledge base.
  • Aspiring author? Design a new onboarding manual for future Product Support Team members.
  • Are you a natural born teacher? Lead Figma 101 sessions for new hires to get them up to speed on Figma’s features and functionalities.

While you do want your language to be creative, compelling and joyful, make sure that it fits the way you would actually talk about your company. If a person is excited and amped up by your job description and then talks to someone and finds it to be a totally separate, disjointed experience, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth. So keep the tone of your post in line with how you brand your culture elsewhere.

Fill it up with culture

Chances are, you’re already doing this really well. Your marketing team does an excellent job pulsing your culture throughout everything you put on your marketing site and in the product. Your support team does a great job carrying it through every email, tweet, chat, or Facebook message they write. So now, it’s up to you to carry on the legacy and make sure that your job descriptions align with your company’s culture.

When you’re writing about qualities that you’re looking for in an ideal candidate, be sure to include lots of links to blog posts or recommended reading. This allows people to click out of the description and go and do some additional due-diligence to see if your company fits their dream role. It also lets them get a bit more of a hands-on feel for what your culture actually looks like, and how it comes through in things such as your blog or your customer-facing product pages.

GitLab has a culture page that they link to in their job description so that applicants can find out a little bit more about the company before applying:

About GitLab

GitLab Inc. is a company based on the GitLab open-source project. GitLab is a community project to which over 1,000 people worldwide have contributed. We are an active participant in this community, trying to serve its needs and lead by example. We have one vision: everyone can contribute to all digital content, and our mission is to change all creative work from read-only to read-write so that everyone can contribute.

We value results, transparency, sharing, freedom, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, directness, kindness, diversity, boring solutions, and quirkiness. If these values match your personality, work ethic, and personal goals, we encourage you to visit our primer to learn more. Open source is our culture, our way of life, our story, and what makes us truly unique.

Top 10 reasons to work for GitLab:

  1. Work with helpful, kind, motivated, and talented people.
  2. Work remote so you have no commute and are free to travel and move.
  3. Have flexible work hours so you are there for other people and free to plan the day how you like.

Another awesome opportunity to include an example of your culture without blatantly writing it out is to reference a particularly excellently written email or interaction (with the customer’s permission, of course). This fulfills the need for showing off your culture, but also shows how support team members take their own spin on things when talking to customers. People applying for the role will be able to see if your company’s style of support works for them or not.

Use an assignment

It’s a fine line to walk when asking someone to apply for your role and asking them to complete a project. While you want to see how they work, you can’t actually ask them to do unpaid work (legally or morally). A sample project can be anything from a straightforward six question sheet required along with their resume, or an hour-long more in-depth project that they can do on their own time separate from the application. Keep the assignment short and to the point to respect the candidate’s time — especially if you’re asking multiple candidates to complete the task.

Zapier includes a few short assignments in their customer champion application form, including setting up a “zap” in their product and questions about APIs, which are a really relevant part of their product and support process:

How to Apply

We have a non-standard application process. To jump-start the process we ask a few questions we normally would ask at the start of an interview. This helps speed up the process and lets us get to know you a bit better right out of the gate. Please make sure to answer each question.

Complete this form with answers to the below questions. Make sure each answer stands alone as we review question-by-question instead of applicant-by-applicant.

  1. Tell us why you'd be a good fit for this role.
  2. Tell us why you want to work at Zapier instead of somewhere else.
  3. What should our goal be when replying to users?
  4. A user requests an integration with a service that we don't support yet. Compose a reply to this user.
  5. Set up a zap that takes new Gmail emails from a specific sender and adds them to a Google Sheets spreadsheet. Send us the link to the zap and a share link for the spreadsheet.
  6. Send us a link to an app's API docs that you think are well done, and explain why you think they are good.

One of the major benefits to this, beyond learning a lot about the candidate, is that it weeds out bulk-application candidates. There are many people that submit their applications all over the place, whether they really resonate with a job or company or not. If you require them to do either of the two different types of projects (submitted before or submitted after their resume and the application), they’ll be weeded out. They either just won’t submit the project, or won’t submit their application at all. While this may mean that some great candidates don’t end up applying, you do end up having applicants that are more passionate and hungry for the opportunity.

The second benefit that this adds to your process is that it allows you to get a better feel for how they handle customer service and support in practice. It’s all well and good to write an impressive resume, but viewing a project lets you see how they actually do the job and how they’d be communicating with your customers (or how much training you would have to do).

Focus on the job, not the perks

While the perks of a job are definitely compelling and interesting to prospective employees, they aren’t the only thing that they care about. It should never be the case that someone gets halfway through your job posting and knows that you have seven ping pong tables and a competitive speech-giving team, but doesn’t know anything that will be required of them if they come onboard.

So, when you are writing your job description, focus on the job itself, with the perks woven into the description. For example, you could say:

Expect to handle around 60 email conversations with our customers a day. If that sounds like a lot: don’t worry, we have ample ways to help you blow off steam, such as our seven ping pong tables, or the nap room that we built especially for those necessary midday siestas.

Our support team is extremely intertwined with our product and engineering teams and is responsible for communicating any new incoming bugs, or misunderstandings with the product. Interpersonal communication must be one of your strong suits in this role.

If you’re a little bit shyer and this doesn’t come as naturally to you, you can practice at our monthly non-mandated game night where we break up into groups with people we haven’t played with before to try to get to know them better.

If you aren’t going for a long-form description, you can also do this by placing your job description and requirements section above the perks and culture sections in a bullet-pointed list. Lists are much easier to read for many people and allow people to skim and assess quickly if your company is a fit. Maybe consider some long-form content and some bulleted lists to break it up.

Now that you’ve gotten your job description completed and polished, it’s just a matter of finding people to apply for it.