Why do European developers choose to work remotely for Israeli companies and why do they need two monitors and an old T-shirt?
At 6nomads.com we help IT talent get jobs in the best companies around the world and select interesting projects for their professional growth. At VC, we have already published a series of interviews with global CEOs about hiring and managing distributed teams. This time we decided to talk to the other side — specialists — in order to talk about a still unpopular area where you can and should look for remote vacancies in strong young IT startups — remote work in Israeli companies.
A couple of obvious advantages: working in a familiar time zone, not at night, as in the case of working for American startups, while products are developed for the American market, and salaries are tied to the dollar.
Vacancies in Israeli companies appear on our platform regularly, and recently a few developers at the same time have found jobs working for Israeli products with distributed teams. We decided that this gives us a reason to talk about a couple of cases, so that other specialists would also pay attention to this market, and maybe even to remote work, even if they hadn’t done it before. To do this, we talked to two developers who recently, and for the first time in their careers, have found remote work in foreign IT startups. We talked about their searches, impressions, self-discipline in working from home, its advantages, and plans for the future.
React developer from Moscow
Peter K. got a job in an Israeli financial startup 5 weeks ago,
two of which he spent in Israel at the invitation of the company.
Professional direction and plans
For a long time, I was involved in the implementation of a large CRM-system Siebel CRM, rose to the lead, architect, and trainer. But, I was tired of it, because I specialized strictly in one system and understood that then Siebel was there, and tomorrow it could become unnecessary. If you know even one programming language, you are already very much in demand in many companies, regardless of their specialization. Then I decided to try my hand at web development, learned Ruby, then React, and Python.
I had one of my own projects, where I was a co-founder, then worked as a tech lead for a year and a half in a small startup, and when it, as it happens, finished, I decided to look for a remote job. Just because I wanted to work on a foreign project and not move from Moscow, also get a salary tied to the dollar.
Speaking of the American market, Silicon Valley, they are at the forefront of technologies used, so it would be good for a specialist to learn from them for professional growth. I think many developers have an ambitious desire to work for one of the Big Five tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft), simply because the very fact of passing all the stages of selection and getting an offer is a great achievement. However these companies have no remote options, and the speed of processes and the share of personal participation, of course, is incommensurably small in comparison to young fast startups. That’s why there’s a lot of turnover: developers come and go.
If amongst IT giants you are a grain of sand in the sea, in a startup you feel the product and you see your contribution to it. Now, I like working in a startup, I’m not afraid of the uncertainty, I understand that a startup is such a thing that today it is doable, and tomorrow it’s “Thanks, but it didn’t work out” for everyone.
Searching for a remote job
Even before the startup, my last job, had ceased to exist. I had the intention to find a remote position in a foreign project. I had the intention, but I had no idea where to start. I did not know where companies were looking for specialists. To begin with, I did standard operations: I updated LinkedIn and added code to GitHub.
Then my activity and requests apparently helped Facebook to recommend 6nomads to me. I came in, the service offered me the ability to pass through a selection process. At the time, I didn’t even have much hope, I didn’t think it would lead to a real result, so I took the tests as a training exercise. Why not try it?
The 6nomads expert in my field asked me about my experience and skills, and gave me some tasks to solve. Since I was able to do the task and the Expert review was fine, I got on the platform. Then I received requests for interviews from companies on an increasing basis. It was clear that I wasn’t put in touch with everybody: based on the preliminary selection, matching worked and it was successful, almost all the companies were suitable for me.
The perfect match came with an Israeli company, where I work now. Perfect because I liked the person who interviewed me. Then he, the Head of R&D, became my lead. I was hooked on his sincerity, constructive dialogue, criticism and remarks were competent, without being neglectful. By the way, he turned out to be just like he was at the interview.
For comparison, I can give a history of interaction with another company on the platform. I successfully passed the interviews with HR and the CTO, and at the final interview with the CEO he began to convince me that I am worthless, trying to bring down my salary request, which was quite adequate. It seemed strange to me: what was the point of these conversations before? Either you want to hire me or you don’t.
My current lead presented his company to me in the first conversation, while the rest did not bother to talk about themselves and wanted me to ask them questions about the company from the very beginning. Then he gave me the task, asked me to outline a plan for its solution and the deadline. I said that I would program the task by the next day. After the conversation, I sat down for the solution and quickly realized that I overestimated myself. Eventually, without getting up from the table, I finished by 8 a.m. the next day. Two hours later I got the answer: “We are ready to make an offer”.
Everything happened very quickly: on Thursday we spoke on the phone for the first time, on Sunday we talked for the second time, and I got the task, and on Monday a decision was made.
Working in an Israeli startup
Israel has the same time zone as Moscow, I need not work at night, and we develop the product for the American market, I am more than satisfied with it. One peculiarity: the Tel Aviv team, to which I belong, does not work on Fridays because of the sabbath, but works on Sundays.
After the offer, I was asked if I would like to go to Israel for a meeting with the team. I agreed of course. I spent two weeks in Israel, where we worked in the office, talked, spent time together.
The main impression was people! I liked them very much. We gathered strong professionals, all with a great sense of humor. Part of the team lives in Tel Aviv, and remote developers came from Romania and Ukraine.
The team was assembled to get to know each other: when the employees talked, made friends, then it would be much easier for them to interact effectively, to negotiate in chats. Besides, we were trained there. Since the startup is connected with finance, its regulation implies special training of employees in fraud security, and other nuances of work.
Now, especially after the trip, I am very satisfied with the project and the team I got into. The company is developing rapidly: there were 7 people in the spring and now there are 30. The founders are not startup boys, but serious adults who know the market and what to do, they have managed to build transparent and clear processes, which is particularly encouraging, especially in contrast to my past experience.
As for formalities, I work as a contractor. This is a standard practice in startups employing specialists from all over the world. I don’t see any drawbacks in this yet. I don’t aspire to any social packages and so on, you better pay me more, and I will solve the issue of insurance, hospitalization and how many teeth to treat per year. I understand that I may be fired one day, that the project may close down, or that for some technical reasons they may not be able to continue working with me, but it does not bother me, I will find a job. It’s hard to find good developers today.
I have worked a lot in banks, where people are always hired in tutus. Yes, it’s a stable job, it’s an incredible social package, good money that drips regularly, but everything you do is often not even used, 90% of the features you create are immediately thrown away. So you don’t even make a small piece of something big, it really was pissing me off. Now I’d rather go to freelance than go back to the big company.
As for my remote working experience, I had it when I was working on my project with three other developers. No office, we worked from home, we called each other. But, of course, this was not like organizing the processes in the project where I work now.
I wasn’t even sure I could do my job from home. I had prepared thoroughly, organized a good, comfortable workplace: I bought a table with height adjustment to work standing up periodically, and two monitors with stands. In general, I made it so that I could disconnect from everything when I sat down at the workplace. Yes, the kitchen is next to me, sometimes I can lie on the sofa in broad daylight, but when I sit down at the table, I work. The place of work has to be almost sacred to make it easier to concentrate.
I also noted what helps self-discipline better than any control: I like the team so much, people are charged, do something cool, that I just can’t afford not to. I want to talk about what I have done in the past day on the morning stand-up. This switches me on. Sometimes it’s lazy for 3–4 hours in the afternoon, but then you realize that the work isn’t done enough, you sit down and write the code until nightfall. Because the main thing is the result, and I want to show it. Responsibility to the team is a big driving force, and this is despite the fact that I am a very lazy person.
Student React developer from Russia
George S. is studying in Germany and working for an Israeli
About yourself and moving to Germany
I lived in Nizhny Novgorod, studied software engineering, and am in my third year, I started working in software engineering. I worked for Netcracker for a year and then for 4 months in another company, where I got a better offer.
After that, I went to Germany to study HCI (Human-computer interaction), and since I did not know how much time I would spend on master’s studies, I refused to work. My studies turned out to be difficult, I hadn’t worked for a year, except little projects sometimes I wasn’t involved in full-fledged development.
A year later, I got used to my studies. However, I had a student visa and couldn’t officially work in Germany.
I signed up at 6nomads, I don’t even remember how I learned about the service. Shortly after the registration and selection process, I was contacted by a manager to whom I told about my situation with Germany and my studies.
The service turned out to be convenient: it performs its function, it is easy to contact and correspond with companies there, but its main advantage is still the people who helped and led me from accidental registration to employment in a foreign company.
On the site I had time to talk to three companies: I did not fit in with the St. Petersburg project, the company from South Africa gave up on me because of fears that I would not be able to combine a full-fledged job with the study, and with the latter — with a company from Israel, which is engaged in developing an e-learning platform for the American market — everything worked out/the puzzle has evolved.
I was interviewed and then was given a task to solve immediately, where I made a mistake and was offered to fix it. But I was in the middle of an exam period, and I said I couldn’t get back to the task until two weeks later. In the end for the second time, I passed this step successfully, then I talked to the CEO of the company, and soon I got an offer.
I hadn’t had any remote experience before, and the entire project team I’ve been assigned to is distributed. Mostly guys from Eastern Europe, only CEO is in Israel. I work from home. Until I dealt with co-working in Germany, I moved to another city less than a week ago and didn’t have the time. But I plan to find a workplace outside the home, to choose a comfortable co-working.
It’s not always possible to create a fully working atmosphere at home without being distracted, and the boundaries between work and home are blurred. Life becomes a half-working, half-home, and you can’t switch completely. So when I work at home, I dress as if I were at work, and when I’m resting, I dress in sports pants and an old t-shirt with a cartoon print. It helps me to draw an artificial line between work and home.
In addition, the specifics of the work involves tracking time, which you spend on the task. It motivates, you can’t spend the whole day watching youtube, and then track 8 hours for 2 lines of code. That’s why everything here is transparent. In general, for a remote specialist will be very useful.
The whole team communicates in Slack, daily standups are held in writing, there are weekly team calls and within the company, and also a weekly face-to-face with a team lead.
If we compare it with previous work experience, sometimes we had to go through 7 management circles to get through to the right person when the company has 1,300 employees. At the remote company, however, everybody can contact everyone directly, but this type of work is suitable for smaller teams, I think.
Even though we are an Israeli startup, we work according to the usual calendar — Monday through Friday. But if you want, you can even work the first 20 days of the month without a weekend, and then rest.
I am a contractor: I have an open-ended contract for the provision of services. I use my salary to rent housing in Europe, eat well, buy clothes, and also enough for leisure, travel and even for savings.