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Building Remote Teams and Sourcing Employee Talent in Eastern Europe, with Noel Andrews


Noel Andrews S2F Podcast Image

Since the global pandemic, everyone is familiar with remote work. But remote work was on the rise even before everyone was sent to work from their home offices. And Noel Andrews, CEO of JobRack, has been on the front lines of the remote work surge for a few years.

JobRack is a marketplace that helps connect companies with remote workers living in Eastern Europe. Their business model is different from other recruitment agencies, both in their niche focus and the values that they operate with. We chatted with Noel on a recent episode of the Stride to Freedom podcast. He told us why JobRack is different, how to build a remote team, and why Eastern Europe is a valuable talent pool.

Why Remote Work?

Companies are coming around to remote work. It was a necessity during the pandemic, but now it’s quickly becoming the norm. Hiring remote workers allows companies to expand past their geographical area to find top talent.

JobRack focuses on employees in Eastern Europe for a few reasons:

  • Highly skilled and educated workforce.
  • Excellent English language proficiency.
  • Lower cost of living and salary expectations than North American or Western European employees.

Besides focusing on Eastern Europe as a region, JobRack also focuses in on a few industries, with software development and engineering as the most in-demand skillset.

What this means is that companies can bring on high-quality candidates at a lower cost than hiring someone from their own geographical area. If leaders and managers prioritize connection and communication, they can build a strong, engaged remote team.

JobRack vs. the Gig Economy

There’s a lot of chatter about the “gig economy” these days, with companies like Upwork leading the way to connect freelancers and businesses. JobRack, however, is squarely not part of the gig economy. They connect companies with team members, not freelance or contract workers.

Also, unlike Upwork or other freelance marketplaces, JobRack enables employees and companies to make private salary arrangements. Upwork takes a cut of any financial arrangement which means the freelancer is not truly part of the company’s team.

Because remote team culture is so important for success, it’s also important that remote team members feel valued and connected to their workplace.

Leading with Clarity and Kindness

JobRack’s value proposition is how they lead with kindness and clarity, always focusing on how to help people. It might seem overly simple, but it’s something that not all businesses focus on. Through their work, JobRack is able to help both businesses and employees, creating opportunities for professional and personal growth.

Noel prioritizes a few things in his company:

  • Clear communication, even about challenging topics like salary.
  • Straightforward advice, whether that leads to getting more business to JobRack or sending them elsewhere.
  • Checking in with team members and prioritizing team culture.
  • Prioritizing connection with employees to help everyone feel part of the team.

This approach has helped Noel build his own company and remote team culture. He encourages other leaders and business owners to do the same. Remote teams don’t h

ave to mean less connection or engagement—there are so many ways to build strong teams where people are enthusiastic and committed to their work. Remote work is changing the world, one employee and one company at a time!

If you want to check out the full conversation, listen to the Stride to Freedom podcast. You can also check out JobRack’s website to learn more about what they offer.

And if you want to know more about us at Stride Services, contact us today. We offer back-office outsourced accounting and CFO services, including stable and efficient bookkeeping, cash flow management, and actionable analytics for growth.

The Stride for Freedom podcast is hosted by Stride Services. Contact us today to learn more about our back-office accounting and CFO services, including stable and efficient bookkeeping, cash flow management, and actionable analytics for growth.

You’ll enjoy this Podcast episode with Noel 

Listen Now

We are fortunate to have Noel available to spend time with us on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. If there is a speaker you’d like us to interview, click here and let us know. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Show Notes and Links From Episode:

Noel Andrews: LinkedIn

JobRack: Website/LinkedIn

Noel Andrews: noel@jobrack.eu

And if you want to know more about us at Stride Services, contact us today. We offer back-office accounting and CFO services, including stable and efficient bookkeeping, cash flow management, and actionable analytics for growth

Episode Transcript:

Russell Benaroya: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Stride 2 Freedom podcast where we help business leaders get and stay in their genius zone.

What is your genius zone? Your genius zone is that place where you lose track of time, where the work that you’re doing is effortless, where people say to you, “Oh my gosh, how do you do that?” And you say, “I don’t know. It’s just what I do.” Many business owners are spending a disproportionate amount of time outside of their genius zone. So we bring guests on the show that are in the business of helping business leaders achieve their highest and best use.

My name is Russell Benaroya. I am the host of the Stride 2 Freedom podcast. Our genius zone at Stride, which is the sponsor of the Stride 2 Freedom podcast, is to help business owners achieve their highest and best use by using their financial data to make better business decisions. Stride Services provides outsourced back office, bookkeeping, accounting, and fractional CFO services for professional service firms.

Today, I am so pleased to welcome Noel Andrews to the show. Noel, how are you, buddy?

Noel Andrews: I am great. Great to be here, Russell.

Russell Benaroya: It’s so great to have you. This is a milestone moment for the podcast. I have never interviewed anybody across the pond. I’m feeling global. I’m feeling international today. Thank you for growing our world.

Noel Andrews: Likewise.

Russell Benaroya: Noel and then we’ll jump in and hear firsthand from him Noel is the CEO and founder of a company called JobRack. JobRack is where successful businesses hire the best remote talent in Europe. Noel has created a marketplace that is totally fair and aligned with the needs of employers like you.

What inspired me about the conversation is that Noel has taken a very thoughtful approach on both sides of the marketplace, both in how he appeals to employers that are looking to bring on talented individuals, as well as to how he thoughtfully sources individuals to be available for opportunities that match where they want to develop in their careers. I love the marketplace. I love the platform.

There are probably others out there that you’re thinking, “Oh, well, doesn’t so and so do that?” We’ll have Noel talk about how he’s a little bit different.

Noel, what is something coming out of the pandemic or post-pandemic that you really appreciate more than ever?

Noel Andrews: Time face-to-face with people, ironically, because I run a business that we are 100% remote with our team and we encourage people to hire remotely. And there are huge benefits and possibilities that arise from that and obviously the world has woken up to remote work. But also appreciating and encouraging people to get face to face.

We’re arranging our first team retreat right now and really excited to do that. It doesn’t need to be every day, it doesn’t need to be every week but getting face to face with people is a good thing.

Russell Benaroya: It does make a big difference. Because you operate a 100% remote culture workforce and your business has been built on it, what is something culturally that you have done that has been effective in connecting people to JobRack’s purpose and to each other?

Noel Andrews: Within the business, we have afternoon tea. Every Friday at 3 PM, we have 30 minutes. It’s not mandatory, but most of the team do join. And there’s only one rule: there’s no talk about work. We just get to know each other.

We’ve been putting a lot of effort into the kinds of serendipitous moments that don’t happen when you’re remote. You don’t have the watercooler conversation. You don’t have the coffee machine conversation. You don’t go to lunch with your colleagues. So we’re doing a lot of things like that and recreating them in the virtual world. We have afternoon tea on a Friday afternoon and office radio is another one that’s coming soon.

Russell Benaroya: Awesome. The afternoon tea, is it just conversational where people are chit-chatting about whatever comes to mind as long as it’s not work-related?

Noel Andrews: Absolutely. Recent topics have included the worst movie you’ve ever seen and why, how to psychoanalyze your partner because one of my team is a trained psychologist, and how to work out and stay fit whilst working from home. So all kinds of random conversations.

Then it gets into what people are doing for the weekend, just intended to help people get to know each other.

Russell Benaroya: I’m glad you opened that up. I bought these cards because they are great conversations and I just leave them on my desk. Whether it be with my family or at work, sometimes I’ll pull out a card and I’ll read the card. I’m going to read one to you. The question is: Noel, who taught you how to ride a bike?

Noel Andrews: Definitely my mom.

Russell Benaroya: How did she do it? Did she run behind you and hold the bike? Do you remember it?

Noel Andrews: I remember having stabilizers for a little while. I remember falling off a couple of times, but you only got to fall off a couple of times and then you make sure you don’t fall off much more because it hurts.

Russell Benaroya: All right. Let’s talk about JobRack. Give me a bit of background on the business; why you started it, why you felt it was important, and what you’ve learned about managing this marketplace.

Noel Andrews: JobRack was born in a forum post in a community that I’m a member of in 2015. There were a couple of guys there who were both hiring software developers from Eastern Europe. In this community, there were lots of people struggling to get good developers and these guys were shouting about how great Eastern Europe was.

They ended up having a conversation that said, “We should do something about this. Other people would like access to great talent.” They actually created and launched JobRack. It went on for a couple of years before it was sidelined for a little while. Then it was either going to get shut down if it wasn’t sold.

In October 2018, we jumped in and bought JobRack. It was very small at that point; it had been mothballed for a year. I’d spent 15 years in the corporate tech space. I was pretty entrepreneurial in that I’d done some things around recruitment and interview and coaching. It just seemed to be a perfect opportunity.

I liked the fact particularly not only was it around remote work, which even back then it was clear it was going to keep growing, but also it was already niched down to Eastern Europe. I’m a big fan of having a business that’s a niche within a niche. Eastern Europeans in general are fantastic to work for, with great qualities.

So, I bought it for not very much money then spent the last three and a half years now steadily growing it. The first two years were very slow and steady. Then the last 18 months has been like a hockey stick growth, which is exciting.

Russell Benaroya: If you were talking to a fifth-grader, how would you explain what JobRack does?

Noel Andrews: We help business owners all over the world hire really great people from a very specific area of the world, which is Eastern Europe.

Russell Benaroya: Why does that service need to exist?

Noel Andrews: Business owners all over the world Have you woken up to this opportunity that exists through hiring remotely, and there are a couple of things that come with that. One is that often the very best people don’t happen to live within commuting distance of where you live or where your office might be if you have an office. So then you think, “Well, I want the best possible people.” Then you look around the world and you look at where they are.

Then you normally will hit upon some constraint. Maybe there’s a language constraint, or maybe there’s a cost constraint, or maybe people want different things. Eastern Europe is a real sweet spot for remote hiring where there are incredibly highly skilled people with really great English, great education, an astounding work ethic, and coupled with great value because they have a lower cost of living than we have in the UK, the US, Canada, etc.

So, we’re giving business owners this opportunity to grow and hire really great team members potentially earlier than they could otherwise afford to hire, and helping them get better quality people than they could otherwise get locally.

Russell Benaroya: What would be a good example, or maybe a few examples of the types of hires that seem to work out well for companies sourcing talent in Eastern Europe?

Noel Andrews: Probably the most common is software developers. If you’re trying to hire a software developer in the US right now, just make sure you’ve got your therapist on standby because it is a hard job. We are seeing junior software devs come out of college and university and looking for six-figure salaries. And in some cases, they’re getting them even with what’s going on in the industry.

Software developers are a really common one for us because like the technical education in Eastern Europe is phenomenal. The work ethic is great, really great English. And because the cost of living is lower there, they’re maybe 50% of the cost of hiring in the US. You get equal or better quality and you don’t get the sense of entitlement that is sadly a little bit too common in the western world now.

We also do lots of technical specialists; things like PPC, SEO, and graphic design. We get into project managers and operations managers, and then down through customer support, and virtual assistants, helping business owners to get things off their plate. So, a real broad range but software developers is where it all started and we still do a huge amount of that today.

Russell Benaroya: Why would a company not look to source talent in Eastern Europe? What is a reason why they would say, “That sounds like a really neat business, but that’s probably not for me”? Why would they say that?

Noel Andrews: There’s one key reason, and it depends on the role — it’s timezone. Let’s say you have an account manager role, and they spend all day long, nine till five — East Coast Time, West Coast Time, Central Time — on the phone with customers, then that can be tricky to cover from Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is going to be six hours ahead of East Coast Time, it’s going to be nine hours or so ahead of West Coast Time. And in my opinion, you do not get the best people working night shifts.

Russell, you and I would not be thrilled about giving up our evenings and our hobbies and the things we like to do Monday to Friday evening. I don’t see why any people elsewhere in the world are any different. Now, there are regions of the world where it is really common for people to work night shifts and match hours in the US. However, I don’t think it’s healthy. The long-term effects on the body and effects on health and wellness aren’t great.

So if you said to me you need someone to be able to work afternoons, evenings, US time, I’m going to say, “Hey, have a look at Latin America, potentially hire locally. But if you’re looking for a lower cost and still high skills, then potentially Latin America.”

For most roles, though, there isn’t that 100% synchronous work requirement. As long as you’ve got three or four hours of crossover, you can achieve a huge amount and you can then play that geo arbitrage game and benefit from the time zone in that your team has done half a day’s work even before you come in. You’re kind of ahead of the game. There are a lot of benefits to leveraging what can sometimes be seen as a downside.

Russell Benaroya: Would you say that most of your employer clients are in the US or broadly in the West? Where are they geographically located today?

Noel Andrews: About 70% of our employers are in the US and Canada. And then the rest are distributed across Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Russell Benaroya: What advice would you give to an employer who is going to be managing this resource in how they might have to adjust or adapt the way that they lead, manage, guide, coach, plan, process, and strategize. Are there some tips of the trade that you could pass on?

Noel Andrews: Some of them are generic to remote teams in general. Number one is, invest your time. As you grow as a business owner and as your business grows, the number one thing for you to spend your time on is your team. Communicating to your team, developing them, training them, building connections, and building culture. That for me is the number one for any remote team.

The good news is, it’s often quite fun. Going along to afternoon tea on a Friday afternoon, recording little loom videos as I’m out and about letting the team know what I’m up to, deciding on who we’re going to recognize in team meetings, and things like that. It’s actually pretty good fun and it has great results.

So I think overall, the number one thing for any remote team or any person managing and owning a business with a remote team is communication and investing in your team.

I think specific to Eastern Europe, the most important thing is just to prepare yourself for some pretty direct communication. One of the things that can be a frustration in other areas of the world is where you will get team members that will just tell you yes. They will tell you what they think you want to hear. That is not something that we get in Eastern Europe; we get the opposite. We get very direct, almost blunt communication.

So if they think you’re wrong, they will tell you. It’s polite, but it’s just pretty direct. If they think something is impossible, or if they think somebody has a better way of doing something, they will tell you straight, which, at first, is startling, then it’s refreshing. Then it’s difficult to look anywhere else because that is just unheard of in certain regions of the world. And it’s so good when you know if you make a mistake

Most business owners, if they’re anything like me and they’re not great at being clear in their instructions, or in their delegation, sometimes will ask for a square wheel. There will be better ways to do things. So having people that will call you out on that instead of just going, “Yes,” and then delivering something wrong a few weeks later is fantastic.

Russell Benaroya: Do you accept that the JobRack is bucketed in the gig economy phraseology? Or do you see the JobRack is a little bit different than how that gig term might be perceived?

Noel Andrews: Thankfully, we’re definitely not in the gig economy side of things. We don’t do freelance roles, and we don’t do project roles. Our focus is very much on helping business owners and agency owners hire long-term team members that are either full-time or part-time. We have to be careful that they’re not an employee from a legal perspective, but they are a team member. They’re committed to you for the long term, and you’re committed to them.

These are people that you can build your business around. I think that makes a big difference because yes, we can delegate tasks to freelancers and gig workers, but you’re not getting their “shower thoughts”. I want people that are committed to me in the same way that I commit to them.

The flip side is we hear people refer to industries that they’re not particularly fond of. We often hear recruiters, real estate agents, and traffic wardens. They’re the collection that we often hear get lumped together a little bit. Again, I like to think that we’re pretty different from most recruiters. The fundamental thing for us is that my entire strategy is to be helpful and friendly.

What we’re seeing is that the more helpful and more friendly we are, things come good from that. We just want to help people out, help them go through that hiring process, both the job seekers and the employers. A lot of the calls that I jump on are helping people and helping them figure out what’s right for them. If I think it’s Eastern Europe, I’ll let them know. If I think it’s somewhere else, I’m going to guide them that way. That’s what, for me, keeps the world going round.

That’s probably our differentiator. We’re helpful and friendly, which shouldn’t be a differentiator, but actually, it is.

Russell Benaroya: I know sometimes just showing up is itself a differentiator. Responding to people in a timely way. It’s so funny, your greatest competition is very rarely other companies. It’s yourself and your own process breakdowns.

Just to bring up a question around a broader competition to help listeners get some context, they may know about a pretty well-known marketplace called Upwork. It is probably the most well-known globally in terms of being able to access a freelance economy. How would you distinguish or differentiate from somebody that might say, “I could go on Upwork and Upwork’s a bigger marketplace”?

Noel Andrews: The key thing for me is if you are hiring a team member, then one of the big things that I feel you should have direct is the financial arrangement, and it’s paying them directly. Whereas with Upwork, that is not the case. Upwork is an intermediary. They’re taking a commission from both of you. They’re taking a commission from you as the employer and they’re taking a commission from the job seeker as well. So that’s always in the way.

For me, they don’t feel like a team member in that same way. Recently, it was likened to me as if you’re on the online dating scene, and you meet someone. Do you stay on the app or do you come off the app? What’s the right time? Same with the team members. Are they really fully committing to you? Are they coming off Upwork?

Now, the answer is no because they’re still getting paid through Upwork, which means Upwork is still emailing them about other opportunities. That’s not the relationship I want with my team members. That’s the big thing for us. We’re helping you find, hire, and then succeed with your team members, and they are your team members.

Russell Benaroya: So if I wanted to hire an account manager, and I wanted to do that through JobRack, you would get on the phone with me or somebody at your organization to really understand the role — scope the role, what’s the arrangement, what are the needs — and then you take that information and you go and find candidates? Is that right?

Noel Andrews: Exactly. We put a lot of effort into understanding exactly what you want. We’ve got very straightforward, plain English questions that just make you think about what you want. Every now and again, I’ll get a client that wants to rush this process. And it’s like, no, this is the most important bit. Figuring out what you want and what you need is crucial.

Sometimes it might be a role that is good to advertise on JobRack’s job board. There’s a DIY option. A lot of the time, the best candidates are not hanging out on job boards just waiting for your job to pop up. So we have to get out there and source them and headhunt them. That’s one of the key things that we do for you

We go out and find the right people and then do all of the painful work associated with hiring: sifting, filtering, reviewing, doing screening interviews, capturing videos, testing them, just to get you down to what you want, which is a handful of candidates that are the right ones for you to interview and go forward.

Russell Benaroya: How does an employer have confidence that you are capable and able to source great candidates in Eastern Europe? What is your methodology? What is your access? What’s your strategy?

Noel Andrews: There are two things. One is we have hundreds and hundreds of clients, and now well over 1, 000 hires behind us, which tells a good story. Two is that we go out and source from around about 32 different channels, depending on the particular role. We’re in all places from private Slack groups, Facebook communities, Telegram messenger groups, GitHub for developers, and all kinds of different places.

In terms of how a business owner can have confidence, the key thing is I put my money where my mouth is. We have a guarantee, absolutely rock solid. So if we couldn’t hire you for any reason, we just refund you. If anything goes wrong in the first three months, which we work hard to make sure it doesn’t, then we replace for free.

I’m a big fan of having an absolutely solid, almost over-the-top guarantee. For us, we have confidence in what we do and we want to not have that risk or concern be a big factor for people that want to hire.

Russell Benaroya: What is the fee arrangement? How does that structure work with JobRack? You’re building a business yourself, presumably.

Noel Andrews: Yeah, we’ve got to make some money. We keep it simple. We have a DIY option that you can just post on the job board for $249. Then a done-with-your service, which is the main one where we’re doing all the work.

We have three tiers. If you’re hiring a tier-one role, such as virtual assistants, customer support, marketing assistance, and things like that, it’s $1650. Then we have a mid-tier tier, which is for technical specialists, PPC, SEO, OPs managers, graphic designers, and it’s $2500. And then we have a top tier, which is because it’s particularly tough to get good developers and software developers and tech leads, and that’s $3500. That’s a single, fixed fee, one-off, there are no commissions ongoing, etc.

It’s completely risk-free, in that sense. We find that works well. We find that’s fair. With lots of the conventional recruiters, it’s 20% or 30% of salary. For us, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. So we’re doing it in a way that makes sense for us and it seems to be working so far.

Russell Benaroya: How would you compare that fee, $3,500, to a fee that I might pay somebody in the US that’s in the search business to find a developer?

Noel Andrews: Let’s say you’re hiring a senior software developer in the US, you’re probably going to be paying somewhere between 20% and 30% of the first year’s package and starting salary, and you’re probably going to be paying them $150,000 a year, something like that.

So, you’re into $30,000- $40,000; a very significant sum, often with less guarantee than we do if they can find people that are going to stay because there’s a lot of upheaval and shifts. So it’s a pretty big difference.

Russell Benaroya: I love your business. I appreciate what you’re doing, especially that fee, that’s a 10x difference. That’s pretty unbelievable. What are the risks that I as an employer should keep in mind? I mean, nothing’s ever riskless and that’s what entrepreneurship is about. It’s about weighing risks and trying to harness some control of variables that you don’t entirely control. What should I be aware of?

Noel Andrews: I think if you don’t follow my number one tip, which is to invest in your team and communicate with your team, if you don’t do that, then the risk is that they never feel invested in you and your business. It’s a little bit different if people are coming into the office every day because they’re making efforts to come, they’re seeing you every day, and they’re getting some of your time, just randomly.

So I think there’s a risk that people don’t feel that connection. That’s why I encourage business owners to put in a little bit of time and effort. And it doesn’t take a huge amount of time and effort to make your team feel like a team.

So I think that’s a risk that people don’t feel connected, and as a result, don’t feel as committed to you and therefore, potentially are more likely to look for another role at some stage. Similarly, the salaries are very competitive. Typically, a senior software developer might be 40 or 50% lower cost than in the US, still paying really fairly for where they are.

Again, if you don’t keep an eye on that with people, and I have really open conversations with my team about their salaries, about what they want for life, about what is important to them, and just keep an eye on that. Just because you’ve got them at a lower cost doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in them and give them raises and things like that.

So I think having those conversations, making sure you’re looking after your team. And like the garden analogy: if you water them, they will do well and do well for you. I think that’s the key thing; invest in your team.

Russell Benaroya: I’d like to make a pitch for a structure that we’ve put in place called a Statement of Alliance. It was originally termed, I think, by Reed Hoffman on LinkedIn as a Tour of Duty, which is:

When we come into a relationship together with an employee, there are certain things we obviously need and want from them, but there are things that they want from us. And if we can establish that and document upfront what success looks like for them, both in their personal and professional lives, and we can maintain that information with a high degree of transparency so that they see that we’re willing to help them. If they want to go to business school, or they want to learn new skills, or they want to meet certain people, or they want to take on certain responsibilities, if we don’t know that, then we’re not going to be able to help them.

So that communication, that transparency, especially in a remote environment, that takes an intentional effort to establish it has been really important for us. That concept of Statement of Alliances; I could see that working well with the folks that you invite to connect with your employers.

Noel Andrews: Definitely. I talk a lot about setting expectations, from ways of working and communication. I think that’s beautiful. I’m definitely going to pinch a little bit of that, Russell because I like that a lot.

Some people shy away from conversations, especially when it comes down to salary and money. And I’m like, “Nope, let’s get it out there. Let’s know what you want.” I might not be able to do it right now, but let’s at least know what we’re working towards.

Russell Benaroya: Any geopolitical risks or issues that somebody might want to be aware of as it relates to Eastern Europe? Or that’s just stories that we’re telling ourselves in our head?

Noel Andrews: There are always things to consider wherever you are in the world. So you want to consider the geopolitical situation. There are two countries, in particular. Obviously, the situation in Ukraine and Russia right now is tricky. There are a lot of people getting displaced and struggling. We’re not seeing any impact across the rest of Eastern Europe, thankfully.

Also, you’ve got to consider things like infrastructure. There are parts of the world that get affected by severe weather, or internet or power outages. Consider that. Thankfully, that’s not a thing in Eastern Europe. Half my team has better internet connections than I do at a lower cost. I’m in London.

I think it’s always worth keeping an eye on it again. We have geopolitical issues in London; none of the trains are running across the entire country today. Then you have similar situations sometimes in the US with budgets not being approved and things like that. I think it’s a good question to be aware of, but thankfully, we see things being very stable.

Russell Benaroya: What is something that people might find surprising about operating a business like yours? You’ve owned it for a few years. You probably walked in with your eyes as wide open as they could be, but never wide open enough because you don’t know what you got until you get in there. What’s something people might find interesting?

Noel Andrews: There are a couple of things. One is how much our team loves working for JobRack to the extent that I have testimonials from my team on job posts when we hire because they really do love working for us. And there are two reasons. One is because we invest in creating a team culture and creating that connection. Two is because they’ve got a real purpose.

If you imagine, for someone from Eastern Europe, getting to work for a business that’s helping other people from Eastern Europe get better jobs, then that is beautiful. They love that. I think just how committed remote team members can be and that’s not exclusive to JobRack by any means.

A lot of our clients have invested and are investing in their team culture, and the level of commitment that you get from people that are appreciative of the chance to work for a US-based business, the chance to make a difference and earn more money than potentially could locally is huge.

The other thing that’s surprising is actually the quality of English from Eastern Europe. That is startling. It’s easy for us in the western world to assume that everyone else’s second language is as bad as our second languages are. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

Russell Benaroya: I love it. What is something that you would want your clients, your employers, to know about JobRack to see you more fully than just like a transactional partner that’s helping them find people? What is something you would want them to know to feel like they’re special?

Noel Andrews: It’s something that they tend to find out once they work with us, and they get an inkling of it. I do a lot of videos, I go and see people, and I put a lot of effort into that. The thing for me is that we are as helpful and friendly as I say we are. And really it’s difficult to put that across. It sounds a bit cliche, but we live and breathe it. And that is huge.

All of the values that we instill in all of our teams, it’s how can we help people and how can we do it in a friendly way? What’s our voice when we’re emailing people? How do we greet people? When people see me do my very casual loom videos and Bonjoro videos just saying, hey and catching up, that pervades through.

So if you want to be dealing with a partner or a supplier that is very stiff and formal, and feels like an old-school corporate, that’s not us. If you want to be dealing with someone that you can have a good chat with and that’s going to be there at the end of the phone when you need some help and probably at some stage is going to want to have a beer or a coffee with you, then think of us. That’s where we play.

Russell Benaroya: How is JobRack getting visibility among employers?

Noel Andrews: Exclusively through referrals and partnerships. I had some fun setting fire to around $10,000 or $15,000 on Facebook ads at the start of the pandemic. It’s amazing what people will watch when they’re basically locked down and they’ve run out of Netflix to watch. That just didn’t work for me.

Then what I realized was that when we do a great job and when we make people happy, they’re very happy to then refer to us and do introductions for us. Most online business owners are in communities, or they’ve got friends. And that has been super powerful.

The biggest tip that I had at the start of January this year was just to ask people for introductions and be specific about it. That is working incredibly well for us. Then we’ve now expanded that into a partnership. Again, it’s very much focused on that win-win. How can we help other people? Then in turn, that often comes full circle through referrals and partnerships and doing a good job.

We’ve just onboarded a customer success manager, who is basically there to ensure that our clients hire successfully. Her role is high Hiring Success Manager. Her job isn’t actually to ensure they hire successfully. Her job is to actually ensure that they turn into raving fans and that’s the sign of success for us.

Because if we help them hire successfully, it’s one thing. If we do it in a way that they’re so thrilled that they then refer to us and they come back, then the business becomes easy at that point. A good chunk of it becomes an awful lot easier.

Russell Benaroya: Do a good job: referrals and partnerships. It’s the same for every business and it’s so simple. We spend all of this energy going out and pursuing inbound lead gen. And I’m not totally dismissing that there’s application there, but the lowest hanging fruit is referrals from existing clients and channel partnerships. That’s so fundamental and it’s amazing.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Put that mechanism in place where you just ask. As much as we’d like to believe we’re in our clients’ orbits all the time, they’ve got businesses to run.

Noel, this was awesome. Anything I didn’t ask you that you feel is important to communicate that you would want people to know about you, the business, and your purpose?

Noel Andrews: One of the big things for me is I really like helping people. A coach a few years ago I identified that one of the things I wanted to feel was appreciated. And I bristled because I felt like I was pretty needy. I eventually accepted that it was true. I really like helping people.

So if there’s anyone listening that is wondering if they should hire remotely, maybe they’ve not done it before or they’ve done it before and had a bad experience and would like to have a chat, it doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about Eastern Europe or not, I’m always willing and very happy to just jump on and help people out. That, for me, is what makes it work around.

I am very fortunate in that I love jumping on calls with other business owners. That’s a big thing for me. So if anyone wants some help, I’m always happy to jump on and chat. Aside from that, ask for referrals. That’s an absolute game-changer for me. I tell people up front that I’m going to ask them for referrals and I’m going to ask multiple times.

I’m like, “If it gets too annoying at any point, just tell me to stop. That’s no worry.” And then three times through the process, we ask, and then every couple of months after that, we keep asking, and nobody minds. Not once have I ever been asked to stop.

Russell Benaroya: I love it. So if people are listening to this and just want to jump on to learn more about the JobRack or get in touch with you directly, what are the mechanisms to do that?

Noel Andrews: Just head on over to jobrack.eu and you’ll find plenty of ways to book a call with me and get lots of information.

Russell Benaroya: Noel, thank you so much for being on the Stride 2 Freedom podcast today. I was excited to have you on after the original introduction from our mutual friend, Marcel Petitpas, from Parakeeto.

You just opened my eyes to a model that feels very authentic and high-value. I really appreciate seeing that a marketplace focused on particular geography embodies so many of the attributes that companies in the West are looking for. And these individuals are well-educated, operate at a high-level, have great English-speaking skills, and have competitive wages.

What a great way to think about resources to build a business that doesn’t require your constraint of only being able to draw from the people in our limited geography? It’s so eye-opening and I hope people take advantage of the opportunity to learn more from you. I really appreciate it.

Noel Andrews: I really loved it. Thank you.

Russell Benaroya: Awesome. Well, thank you everybody for watching, seeing, listening, and hearing another episode of The Stride 2 Freedom podcast. We will see you in our next episode. Have a great week. Take care.

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