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All-Remote Hiring

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On this page, we're detailing how to properly, efficiently, and effectively hire in an all-remote environment.

How do you hire in an all-remote organization?

"How do you handle hiring in an all-remote company?" is a question we at GitLab hear often. Many companies hire only within one country or region, and even multinational corporations typically hire into specific offices.

GitLab envisions a world where talented, driven individuals can find roles and seek employment based on business needs, rather than an oftentimes arbitrary location.

For organizations struggling to find, recruit, retain, and compensate employees in locales such as San Francisco, New York City, London, Singapore, and Sydney, imagine the influx of highly qualfied applicants if the location requirement were removed from all job descriptions. For a glimpse at what this looks like, please browse GitLab's vacancies.

You can hear from our geographically diverse team in the video above, filmed at our all-employee gathering — Contribute.

We want to state up front that one of the advantages of being an all-remote company is that we can hire talent from a global pool. We are not restricted to the usual job centers, which gives us access to a tremendous amount of talent that many other companies will not consider for employment. It may take more effort to find talent in more diverse places, but that is an effort we are willing to make.

You can learn more in the Principles of Hiring section of our Handbook.

Why do you hire from anywhere?

GitLab's six values are Collaboration, Results, Efficiency, Diversity & Inclusion, Iteration, and Transparency, and together they spell CREDIT.

True to those values, GitLab strives to hire team members who are passionate, empathetic, kind, tenacious, and ambitious, regardless of their location. By opening the recruiting funnel to as broad a swath of the world as we can, we create a more inclusive hiring environment, lean on tight collaboration to drive progress across time zones, and focus our hiring decisions on results rather than location.

Hiring an all-remote team from across the globe allows GitLab to pay local rates, which you can learn more about on the company blog. By hiring brilliant minds in locations with lower costs of living, GitLab is able to save money to hire even more people as we scale our business.

For now, this gives GitLab a tremendous competitive advantage. We are sourcing talent from places that most companies overlook, and we're creating a more diverse team all the while. We hope that this advantage fades, as more companies embrace all-remote and widen their recruiting funnel beyond the usual talent centers.

We've published our hiring process, including example screening questions, in our handbook. While this may be unique, we see it as simply staying true to our transparency value. The process shouldn't be a mystery.

Letting candidates know what to expect allows them to focus on whether the role and the company are right for them, while we evaluate that too.

Where do you not hire?

Each country has unique and complex rules, laws and regulations, which can affect us to conduct business, as well as the employability of the citizens of those countries.

We are growing rapidly and continuously expanding our hiring capabilities in other geographies. In countries listed in our contract_factors.yml file, we have a payroll and can employ you as an employee. In all other countries, we can hire you as a contractor.

Learn more at our Country Hiring Guidelines page.

Using video calls to interview and engage

At GitLab, we do not rely on in-person interviews. Instead, we utilize Zoom to connect with candidates via video calls.

In the GitLab Unfiltered video above, Nicole Schwartz and Jeremy Watson, product managers at GitLab, walk through the Deep Dive portion of the product management interview process. For more, watch Shane Bouchard, UX Manager, and Jeremy Watson, Senior Product Manager, discuss interviewing and finding great designers.

This approach reinforces several of GitLab's values.

Learn more in the Interviewing section of GitLab's Handbook.

Above, GitLab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandi sits down for an interview with Sunil Kowlgi, founder of Outklip, on the topic of using video for effective collaboration. You can read more on their discussion — which covers remote hiring, management, customer support, and more — on GitLab's blog.

It's important for candidates to become comfortable with video calls, as they are a primary medium for communication within GitLab. Because we are an all-remote organization with no offices, meetings and informal coffee chats occur using video calls.

Learn more in the Meetings section of our All-Remote section on company culture.

Handling local regulations, risks, entities, etc.

Hiring across the globe isn't without its challenges. There are local regulations and risks unique to countries and regions around the globe.

Rather than attempting to incorporate in every country where an all-remote company has even a single employee, organizations must weigh the benefits of creating a legal entity with other options. There are four means of engagement with GitLab. These are commonly used arranagements that can be considered by other all-remote companies.

Learn more about employee types and hiring partners across countries in the Contracts section of GitLab's Handbook.

It is not always practical to understand the nuances of local regulations in-house. Wherever GitLab has an entity or contractor, we have external counsel to advise and ensure that we are compliant.

In countries where GitLab utilizes a professional employer organization (PEO), counsel within the PEO advises us to ensure hiring compliance.

Deciding between entity and PEO

Generally speaking, it becomes feasible to consider creating an entity within a country once a company reaches 20+ team members in that country. While total costs vary significantly from country to country, creating an entity within a country can cost as little as a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

A company must also hire skilled team members to oversee compliance with local taxes, laws, benefits, etc. in each country where there is an entity.

For countries where a company is not already incorporated or has a local entity, consider the below as a guide.

  1. Fewer than 5 team members: Utilize a contractor arrangement
  2. Between 5 and 20 team members: Leverage a Professional Employer Organization (PEO)
  3. 20+ team members: Consider establishing a local entity

Impact of nonuniform hiring on employee experience

Beyond the administrative challenges associated with using various vehicles (entities, PEOs, contractors, etc.) to hire team members, companies should be proactive in recognizing how this will impact culture and morale.

While GitLab believes that there are far more pros than cons to hiring globally — creating a geographically diverse team, finding the world's best talent, hiring in underserved areas and connecting with people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds — it's wise to evaluate how nonuniform hiring mechanisms may conflict with a company's values.

When leveraging a third-party to hire, it is difficult to ensure that they will treat your employees how you would ideally like to see them treated. Third-party companies are under no obligation to understand or implement your values.

It is imperative that the hiring team communicate this in advance, ideally during the interview phase, to manage expectations of employees who are hired by a third-party firm that may not always act in accordance to your values.

Moreover, one should aim to leverage a single Professional Employer Organization (PEO) over the long term. Switching PEOs is disruptive to team members and creates mental and administrative burden. A growing company should pay particular attention to feedback from employees who rely on PEOs, and plan beyond current hiring needs.

Is there a single PEO that covers the globe?

This is a common question from remote-first and all-remote companies who are understandably interested in streamlining the process of hiring talented team members from an array of countries. The short answer, for now, is "no."

Futhermore, some PEOs serve an array of regions, but offer varying levels of service and disperate experiences from country to country. Seek out advice where possible to gather country-level feedback.

Remote is a new company that intends to tackle this challenge over time.

Remote is working on solving global employment by allowing companies to employ people locally through Remote. That is, full employment local to each and every employee, but a single invoice for the employer. Remote manages payroll, benefits, and compliance, according to the standards of the employer.

Be intentional about due diligence when vetting PEOs. Some firms advertise global reach, but do not offer high-touch, reliable end-to-end service in every country. Instead, they leverage third-parties themselves in various countries, creating yet another layer in the process that may negatively impact employee experience.

Local sourcers

Even when the whole world is your talent pool, there will be roles that require deliberate involvement and proactive search.

For these purposes, GitLab built a Sourcing team focused on finding best passive talent and nurturing the candidate pipeline — a tactic that can be implemented by other all-remote companies.

While GitLab is location-agnostic, we work to ensure that we have local sourcers based in every macro-region (e.g. Americas, APAC and EMEA) so they can bring their market expertise and leverage our presence in these territories.

We also consider our sourcing effort extremely important for bringing diverse talent onboard. Our sourcers are aligned with recruiters and business verticals to ensure that they can apply their unique knowledge of specific areas.

Driven by our Collaboration value, we organize source-a-thons, which become a place where everyone can share their market insights and contribute to hiring. We find these sessions extremely productive as they help sourcers partner with their hiring managers and calibrate their expectations.

Learn more on how GitLab's Sourcing team operates here.

Contribute your lessons

Streamlining the global hiring process is something that remote-first and all-remote companies are grappling with. If you or your company has an experience that would benefit the greater world, consider creating a merge request and adding a contribution to this page.

Return to the main all-remote page.