E154: How to Hire Quality Filipino Virtual Assistants with John Jonas of OnlineJobs.phJune in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
OnlineJobs.ph is a database of Filipino workers with a wide variety of skill sets. It has proven to be an invaluable resource for our company as many of the talented people now working for our company were found using the site.
Our guest for today’s episode is John Jonas, the founder of OnlineJobs.ph. He and I talk about how he turned a significant business need into something that’s helping hundreds of ecommerce entrepreneurs and freelance workers alike.
Here are some of the highlights:
- What OnlineJobs.ph is and how it became one of the largest Filipino online job sites with over half a million resumes in its database
- Why a series of interviews done via email is more effective that a Skype interview
- The reason why many Filipino VAs suddenly “disappear” and how to avoid this from occuring
The last point underscores the key takeaway from this episode. According to John, success in hiring someone from the Philippines hinges on trust. You need to let them know that you’re there to help them succeed in their job. “It’s really important that you build their trust. I know that often we think, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I could trust this person.’ They think the same thing and their feeling is stronger than yours,” he explains.
Thanks for listening to this episode! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike, and welcome to episode number 154 of the EcomCrew Podcast. I’m so excited to have John Jonas from Onlinejobs.ph on the show with us today breaking from my tradition of only interviewing people that I’ve met in person. But we’ve been using Onlinejobs.ph for a couple of years now. It’s how we found Mia, and it’s how we found almost all of our VAs in the office. The only exception is a couple of referrals. Everyone else has come from Onlinejobs.ph.
So it was my true honor to get John on the show and talk to him not only about Onlinejobs.ph, but some tips and tricks about how to hire in the Philippines, some Philippines customs and things like that. It was a fun chat. I wish I could have had him on for an hour or two and just chit chatted with him. But it was definitely really cool. So just as a reminder, you can go to EcomCrew.com/154 to get to the show notes for this episode. And just on the other side of this intro, we’re going to hop right on into it with John. I hope you guys enjoy.
Mike: Hey, John, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.
John: Hey, thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
Mike: No problem, it’s good to get someone on that we use your service all the time. So I’m so excited to talk to you today. We’ve obviously talked about our Filipino employees a lot on this podcast for anyone that’s been listening to the EcomCrew for any length of time. If you haven’t heard some of those, we’ll link to them in the show notes. But we’ve actually hired of the 13 people that we have on our staff, I think either 10 or 11 of them have come through Onlinejobs.ph. So what we’ll get into that in a little bit.
But I always love talking to people, entrepreneurs like yourself and getting some back story. So, I don’t know a whole lot about you and how you got this started. So take a couple minutes and talk about how Onlinejobs.ph came to be.
John: Absolutely. So first, let me go back for a second and say that I love that people are learning how to do this from you where you’re super successful with it. I love that and I love that you talk about it and tell people something that you’re currently doing. I think people should trust you because of that. So how did Online Jobs come to be? Well, 14 years ago, 13 years ago, I was completely stuck in my business. And I was frustrated and I didn’t know what to do. And I just knew that I needed more, I needed help.
And so I got a good tip to hire someone in the Philippines from someone. And I didn’t know if I had enough time to keep him busy or if I had work to keep them busy full time, or if I could afford them, or if they could do really good work. I just didn’t know and I waffled for a couple months going back and forth. And I eventually hired someone. And it was the single most liberating experience of my life where before this I had been — I was in charge of everything in my business. And now I hired this guy, his full time job is to do anything I want. And I could teach him anything I wanted. And all of a sudden I wasn’t in charge of doing a couple of things that I had been in charge of doing. And they were things that I really hated doing.
John: And that kind of changed my view of what was possible with kind of hiring people because I hired people in the US. I hired four people in the US and the first thing they did was quit. They realized what I was doing and they were like, oh, I can do this on my own. I hired people in India and that was a struggle. And I hired contract workers and it just didn’t accomplish what I wanted with it. So when I hired this first person, it was through a service. And you know, like there’s tons of services today that you can do this where they have an office in the Philippines, they recruit the workers, they bring them into their office and market their salaries and basically lease them to you. And that’s what I was doing here.
And that’s fine. I was paying them 750 a month, they were paying him 250 a month. And neither me nor him, the worker knew the full situation. And when we both kind of found out, it was like, oh, and there’s nothing wrong with it. It just you know, like, neither of us felt very good about it.
Mike: Well, they need to be providing you more value than just than hiring them. They’re charging the three times markup on someone.
John: Yeah. And generally, I mean, that’s how that business model works, right? So it’s not the worst thing, it’s not the best either. But the real issue for me was like; I want to hire someone else. And I don’t have the ability to go and just recruit someone, I just have to say, oh, I want this person and then whoever they come up with is who I’m stuck with. Good or not, this is just is what it is. And, and for me, I didn’t love it. So I went to — I found another website that today is a complete disaster. I don’t know what the owners are doing, but well they had a better database of resumes. And it was like a dream come true. And I started recruiting on it. And I found some people that I wanted to hire.
And they input, the owners of the site shut my account down. And I was like, no warning, no questions. I was like, what? Why? They said, oh, because you’re not allowed, foreigners are not allowed to hire Filipino workers through our site. That’s weird.
John: Yeah what? What do you mean? No, you can’t do this, like, there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing, what are you talking about? And we went back and forth and they — so anyway, at some point I decided, there’s got to be a better way to do this. And so I started it for myself, because I wanted to see if I could build a small database of Filipino workers that I could hire out. And when it just started growing and growing, and the people in the Philippines just kept signing up and signing up, I was like, oh, wow, you know, and then employers from around the world wanted to hire people, and that’s kind of the back story of how it got started.
Mike: Interesting. Yeah, it’s amazing how many businesses are created out of your own need? That’s something that you hear over and over again in business. And I think that’s a great way to get started for sure. I did have one follow up question. One thing that you mentioned in your introduction there kind of like how Onlinejobs.ph came to be is you were initially reluctant to hire, because you were worried about being able to keep them busy.
And this is something that I hear all the time. It’s like the number one thing I think that comes up when I talk to people about hiring in general, like just even Filipino employee or not, they’re always worried about being able to keep them busy. And the reality is, is that you probably or yourself, if you’re a solopreneur, and you’re at that stage of like, do I hire this first employee, you’re probably already months, or even a year behind of that curve. And you probably are doing the work of three people to begin with, and you should have hired someone yesterday, not being worried about if you’re going to keep them busy or not.
John: So what I felt was that I was worried about being able to keep them busy, because I’m doing the work right? So like, what am I going to give them? I can only give them this one thing. And then they can’t really do the rest of the stuff that I’m doing, right. That’s my thought. When the reality came to it, I gave them something, and then realized, oh, they’re doing this, well, I could give them this other thing too, I just have to spend a little bit of time to give it to them.
And then here’s where the real change happened for me. So in the past, everybody buys these info products, right? They teach you something. And for me, I was too busy to even deal with it. I love the concept of this info product, I buy it. I don’t even download it because I don’t have time to deal with it and I get distracted by an email. And the kind of the flipping point for me was one day I bought this info product with the intent of I’m going to give it to one of my Filipino workers. And, you can’t, and I knew this at the time, you cannot just buy something and give it to one of your workers. It will cause them to disappear because every info product I’ve ever seen is intended for you, the CEO to implement.
So I took a different approach to this thing. I bought it and said, I’m going to spend an hour. And I bought it, downloaded it, read it. And as I read it, I took notes like here is this part, this piece is really important. This piece is completely irrelevant to our business. So as I did this, I took notes. Then I sent it to one of my guys in the Philippines. And I said, I want you to read this, I want you to implement it for me. I want you to pay specific attention to these chapters and these pages. And I want you to ignore this chapter, these pages because they’re not relevant. And here are the pieces of information that you need from me, like, here’s the sales copy, or here’s the starting of the sales copy, or whatever it is.
And I sent it to him and had him implement it for me. And it took me an hour plus some follow up time, because it’s going to take some follow up time. But that was like the changing point to me, where I realized it’s not a matter of, can I keep them busy, because there’s so much you can give to someone to keep them busy. It’s a matter of figuring out who’s going to do this work. Is it me, or just someone else, because it had always been me. And that was the switch like, oh, someone else needs to do the work. I just need to be the CEO and direct the work.
Mike: Yeah, makes a lot of sense man. It’s kind of the methodology that we’ve taken to this point and it does take some time to get used to. And at some point, you have that aha, epiphany moment. It sounds like you had that. And here we are today.
Mike: Cool so awesome. Background and introduction just kind of like how Onlinejobs.ph came to be. Before we got to chatting on this call, we were talking about some things we could talk about that could add a lot of value to our listeners. The people that listen to this podcast know this is something that’s really important to us as the EcomCrew Podcast. We want you guys to be listening to this and take away value tidbits. And you also know that I’m really passionate about our team in the Philippines. I’ve said, basically, at this point that they’re our main office, and we’re basically the satellite office because so much stuff gets done there.
But it’s only been coming from my perspective. So I thought it’d be cool to have you on today, John, and talk about your perspective, and just kind of like how you’ve gone and built that team there. And I think the first thing we want to talk about is just what is your process for hiring to find these people? What size is your team now? And like, how did you get from zero to that and what’s been the process?
John: Yeah, this is a really great thing to talk about. So, my team to is 21, 21 full time people. And I think when you say, how did I get to there, this is really critical, because I hear people say, like, hey, I want to build a team. And I think, at least based on my experience of what I’ve seen, that’s a mistake. Don’t go build a team. That’s my first piece of advice. The first thing to do is go find one person to do one thing in your business. So if you’re building an e-commerce store, you are sourcing products, find someone to source products, or find someone to do design work for your site, or find someone who knows Shopify and can manage Shopify, or whatever it is you’re using, or Amazon or whatever, right?
So the place to start is to find one person and get one thing taken off of your plate that you’re currently doing rather than saying, oh, I want to just build this team, and they’re going to take over everything. I just see most people who try that end up getting really, really frustrated with the whole process and give up, and go back to doing it on their own.
Mike: Yeah, and another thing, just real quick to add on to this, it’s not only that, but also hiring for one specific skill set. So like, I mean, I think people are stuck along and trying to hire one person that they in their mind is going to be Superman, and can just do like all these disparate things, and this doesn’t exist in the world.
John: Yeah, totally. Like, I mean, I get this every week, I want to hire someone who can make my website look really great, and write these articles, and do a little bit of custom programming and can manage our Facebook. Like, that’s not even a thing. These aren’t super humans, they’re humans, right? They have specific skills, or little skills and whatever you’re going to teach them to do. So the way that I would get started in recruiting is I pick the one thing that you want to do, right? So you want to — let’s start with design, just a good example.
So you will find someone who can take pictures that you have taken of your products and make them great, and make variations on them and add information to the pictures, because people love to look at pictures rather than reading your descriptions, right?
Mike: Yep. So a picture’s worth 1000 words. And people just don’t read.
John: Yeah, that’s right. Okay. So you’re going to take pictures, and then you’re going to add your descriptions into your pictures, right. So you need someone with some graphic design. So you’re going to go into Online Jobs, you’re going to either do one of two things. And this is kind of a personality thing where I’ve done both, I prefer to search resumes and contact workers. I don’t know why I prefer it that way. But I prefer that over posting a job, which I will also do sometimes. So this is completely your preference, whatever you want to do. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, neither one is better than the other.
But you either post a job with what you want done, or you search resumes and start contacting people. Now, an important thing to keep in mind here is the way that I do things generally, and obviously, this is what you’re talking about. But I think it’s important that we make this distinction. I don’t hire contract workers, like this is not a onetime thing that I’m talking about here. I’m looking to hire either a part time or a full time long term person because if you’re going to do something once, you’re going to do it multiple times.
And so obviously images, if you have one product, well, there’s only so many images you’re going to do. But if you’re going to add other products to your store, which you are, you’re going to do this over and over again. So it’s important that you think through this in terms of a long term thing, where like, if you go to Upwork, or Fiverr or whatever, to find someone to do this for you, you have to go through this whole recruiting process. It’s a similar process at Online Jobs versus Upwork or Fiverr, yet you have to go through vetting and whatever, you still have to make sure they’re going to do it the way you want them to do it.
The difference is, after you hire someone, if you hire a contract worker, where they’re going to do a project thing, the next time you need anything done, you have to go through the whole process again, and it’s painful the second — it’s more painful the second time because you’ve already done the mental effort. If you hire them part time, or full time long term, you don’t have to go through that process again. And that right there is one of the keys to like long term successful businesses versus not in that you do this mental work, you only do that mental work once towards hiring this person and then that person sticks with you for a really long time. And that’s kind of one of the big deals with the Philippines.
Mike: Yeah, and you’re writing procedures at the same time it sounds like, which I think is ultra important. We talk about that a lot here as well because that person may or may not be there forever, things change. So if you’re going through that effort once, you might as well write a good procedure or even better yet, we’ve started to have our own guys write the procedures for us and then we review them, and that way, it’s even less work on our end over here.
John: I do the same thing.
Mike: Yeah and then you get a library of this, you don’t have to keep on doing it over and over again.
John: And that’s especially true with the Philippines where like you hire someone part time or full time, they’re long term after you’ve worked through this with them. I’ll just say to them, hey, will you write this out as a procedure like exactly what you do, and I’ll keep it in Google Doc, and I have a folder of Google Docs and procedures. And I didn’t write them and it works nice. Every once a while, I’ll say, hey, will you update the procedure, right?
Okay. So, you have, you’ve either contacted workers, you’ve gone on and contacted a bunch of workers, or you posted a job. So when you do this, generally, I would tell you, the first thing you do is kind of generic, it’s not super specific, asking for tons of skills. You’re going to ask for one or two skills. And the first thing you’re going to — the first contact is, we’re looking for a designer who can help us modify pictures, and we want this many hours a week, we expect and here’s about the salary range we’re paying.
It’s not all that more specific than that is what I do. Now, different people I don’t know, Mike, you may have a different process but…
Mike: We do. I actually was going to ask you that, we can come back to it later or not. But I didn’t want to break your thought process. But we typically post the job and I want to talk to you a little bit more about why you go through the contact them. But let’s say that and let you finish this thought process real quick.
John: Okay, so the initial contact is less descriptive. And the reason for that is because you’re going to cast a wide net. Filipinos are really, really loyal, and almost to it being a fault of theirs, where like if they already have a job, there’s a high chance that they won’t even respond to your inquiry if you’ve contacted them, or they’re not going to apply to your job if they have a job. So one of the things that I do is, I cast a really wide net. So I’ll contact 30 people on Online Jobs without looking in super detail at their profile.
And one of the reasons I do that I think is because I feel like I’m being more proactive. I don’t know, maybe I’m not being more proactive, maybe I’m being dumb contacting people. But I like to see what I’m getting rather than just — and that’s just how I generally prefer. And then if I don’t get a good response from that, then I’ll post a job. So like you post a job, like I said before, there’s not – one is not better than the other, it’s kind of a personality thing.
Mike: What percentage of people would you say that have their resumes on there that are searchable or actively looking for a job then because it sounds like they have resumes there but they’re now in the middle of another job, and maybe just forgot to take their resume down or they just keep it up there just in case? What’s your feeling about that?
John: So resumes don’t come down unless we find that the person is fake. And we’re very proactive with finding, I don’t want to say fake because most of them are not fake, but anything questionable, we’re super proactive with removing them. So resumes never come down. If someone gets a job, Online Jobs, the employer will often mark them as hired. And then you know, this person has a job. That’s just something to consider as you’re looking at profiles. You look at a profile, it’ll tell you, this person is hired by one other person, and it’ll tell you how long ago they were hired.
Mike: Got you.
John: So when you hire someone, make sure you mark them as hired into Online Jobs. That will let other people know, this person already has a job because everybody is hesitant to hire someone who has another job. You want them to work for you. So you’ve cast a wide net, you see who responds. I don’t have a percentage of like what people already have a job. I can tell you we have over half a million resumes, we had 20,000 Filipino sign up last month. It’s growing pretty quickly. But we’ve been at it for nine years. So, and I know that there are people on there who’ve been in for nine years, and they’re still active. Like they’ll have a job for a year and then the job ends, and then they’re still looking for another job, right?
So the pool of people is pretty big who are actively looking. The pool of job seekers is definitely bigger than the employers. So you have you, you know, you’ve gotten responses from people now, you’ve cast a wide net. You’ve gotten either people applying to your job, or they have responded to you contacting them, now it’s the interview process. And this is where I see my success rate differ from other people. And here’s kind of my process now.
Number one I don’t do a Skype interview. I only contact them through email. And I will tell you, I don’t know if you do a Skype interview. But my experience is that Skype interviews scare Filipinos away. They don’t want to do it. Unless it’s a speaking position where they have to be talking to customers, I’m not going to try to schedule a Skype interview with them, because they as a culture, they want to please, they’re a very pleasing culture. And if they think that they’re going to disappoint you, they will do a lot of things to avoid it. And they’re very scared of disappointing you with their English.
And so I would say that 75% of the time you schedule an interview, they don’t show up. Maybe 50% of the time, they don’t show up because, and not that they weren’t a qualified person or that they’re not intelligent, or talented. It’s just this cultural thing where they’re willing to schedule it, and then when it comes down to showing up on the interview, they’re not likely to show up. If you’re going to interview them via email and hire them, they could be a really great worker. So with Skype interview, that’s the issue. So I avoid that.
I interview them through email, and I will ask them lots of questions over lots of emails as I interview. So like, I’ll ask two or three, or four questions per email, and just see what answers I get. So when I do this, I get to gauge a whole lot of things about this person. So number one is I can see their attention to detail. If I ask four questions, they only answer three questions, the chances of me giving them four tasks, and then ignoring one of them after I’ve hired them is pretty high, and that doesn’t work for me, especially with a remote worker, I need your attention to detail to be pretty high. So that’s one of the things I’m looking for.
Second, when it’s kind of it’s reasonable to fake your profile on Online Jobs, or to have a friend help you write your profile. It’s not reasonable to have a friend help you answer email, after email, after email, day after day after day. So I get to see really their writing style and their personality. I also get to see their responsiveness. So if someone is working for you in an office, it’s, you know their responsiveness, like you don’t walk to their desk and talk to them, right? In a remote situation, that responsiveness is really important. It’s important in building a relationship of trust. It is important to me for productivity, to getting work done.
So, if someone is responsive in that interview process, like they respond every day, or they respond multiple times a day, the chances of them doing that after I’ve hired them is much higher. If it takes them a week to respond, the chances of them taking multiple days or a week to respond after I’ve hired them is pretty high. And that doesn’t work for me. So what I have generally found is if I will interview people this way through email, lots of emails, multiple questions per email, a lot of people just drop out as I go through this process. And I end up with like one or two. And I usually have pretty good gut feeling of which one I want to hire.
Mike: And you end up hiring them without ever talking to them ever on Skype?
John: Ever on Skype. And I generally I will never talk to them on Skype.
John: I mean I have people that man; I have people that have worked for me for probably eight years. So I’ve never talked to them.
Mike: Wow, that’s crazy to me, that’s interesting. I mean we approach things a little bit different because we have our own office and I go out of my way to like meet them because we go over to the Philippines twice a year.
John: I like dude, it’s so awesome.
Mike: Yeah but I mean like what you’re saying makes so much sense because I’ve had opportunity to be there with them and interact. And you’re right, like they are definitely a pleasing culture, they’re worried about their English which is like impeccable, but like they’re so worried about it. It backs me up. I see this all over the world actually. It’s interesting because Americans are just kind of dumb and ignorant, they only speak English and don’t think about other languages.
You go around the world. A lot of people speak English, and will be talking to you and they always apologize. They’re like, sorry for my bad English. And my thought processes, like dude, you speak better English than I do whatever language it is that you speak. So I appreciate you going out of the way and being able to talk to me. But you’re right. I mean, like, even in the Philippines, where English is basically a first language, they’re still shy, and it’s just — I don’t think it’s even not only just a pleasing culture, but just a shy culture in a lot of ways.
John: Yeah, shy is a really, really good word for it. But it’s still an Asian culture where there’s still face involved, like they don’t want to lose face. And so you just have to take that into account when you’re communicating. So the conversation about English is really important where they watch American TV. Like I’ve only been to the Philippines once. It was in 2010, it was a long time ago. And I spent five weeks. I took my family on vacation there, we spent five weeks, brought my whole team to this vacation Island.
But I remember being in a restaurant and what was on like, I want to say, America’s Got Talent. I don’t know if it was America’s Got Talent. But there was like an American TV show on in the restaurant. And this was not a touristy area where we were. We were the only Americans there. They watch American TV, they watch American movies. They know they’re going to understand you. They’re concerned with you understanding them. Yeah, that’s, yeah, they’re shy, and they’re concerned. So I don’t do Skype interviews. I love that you go over there and see them. I think that’s so awesome, man. And I would counsel anybody who can do that to do it, because it will change your view of who’s working for you.
John: For me, I have five little kids and I don’t want to travel.
Mike: I’m jealous here. I mean, we’re doing a lot of traveling and it definitely wears on me, but the thing I love about what you’re suggesting here, it may just — again, it’s another approach that’s what’s so cool about getting people on the podcast and talking to them because I’m thinking through this, and I could think through just from what I know, like how successful this can be. And it’s actually lesser work for you. Like, you don’t need to necessarily be talking to them on Skype or whatever. It’s just something that I can I defaulted to. And there’s probably a lot of people that we discounted over the years, that could have been perfectly good workers. I mean, in the earlier days.
Now, we have a different process. And it’s not really applicable to most people listening, because we have Mia, we have our manager their and she does all this for us. She’s the one finding people and she does all the initial interviews and all that. But for people who are just trying to get the first couple of team members over in the Philippines, like this is an ingenious thought process. I love it. I think it’s really applicable.
John: Yeah, so the whole Skype thing is something that like most people just assume, I’ll talk to them on Skype. And what you don’t realize is when they didn’t show up, it wasn’t because they didn’t want the job. You just lost a really good recruit, who could have been really good for your business. It’s just kind of a cultural thing that you didn’t know.
Mike: Yeah, just one other quick anecdotal story on this, just so people can really kind of relate to it even more, and then we’ll move on, I apologize. But there was an episode that I did. And we’ll put this in the show notes of every one in our office in the Philippines. We did an episode when I was there; I put the microphone on a table and got them all in the room, and just got them all to say hi. And I could see, just like, again, I think it’s again the shyness culture there, none of them were, like, looking forward to it.
They were all just like, oh my God, this is terrifying. And they were all just definitely clammed up. And they did it because I was there and I have a rapport with them. And I thought it was one of the best episodes we ever did. But you could just see the relief on their eyes when it was over with. And it just kind of builds on what you’re talking about. And I think that is just like another important story to mention, because I’ve seen it firsthand.
John: I’ve had the exact same experience. When I was there, I did a video. I made them all stand in a circle and we’ve filmed them all and talked about what they like and what they don’t like. And it was so hard, they were so scared. And that’s just how they are. But like the six people in that video, they’re amazing workers. They do such great work. They just don’t want to talk, right?
Mike: Yeah, yeah. All right. So anyway, let’s move on past that because I think we kind of hit that up to death.
John: Yeah. Okay. So you have interviewed, you have a pretty good idea of who you want to hire. Now, there’s a couple different ways of doing this. Some people want to do a test, like you’re going to give this person a test before you hire them. And I’ve even seen some people will be like, hey, I’m going to have three different people do this test. And whoever does the best is going to have whatever. So in the Philippines, the culture of what is it? What’s the word for this? Like incentive or competition doesn’t work well. So it’s fine to give them a test, make sure you pay for that test. Filipinos are very scared about doing work and not getting paid.
So if you’re going to give a test, every time say, hey, look, I’ll pay you for this test. This is how much I’ll pay you. And make it a reasonable amount maybe more than you think, paying someone $3 to do something isn’t an incentive for them. That tells them you’re cheap and they don’t want the job in the first place. So pay for the test. And whether they do a good job of the tests or not, still pay for it. For me, I will do that sometimes, depending on the position. Like a designer, I want to tell them, I want to see you design something; I want to see how you think, right. And I’ll tell them ahead of time, I want to see how you think. I’m not super concerned about the actual design, I just want to see how you think through this process.
The part of the test that I don’t like is it’ll — Filipinos don’t work super well under pressure. And it’s something you just have to be aware of and be careful of. Beyond that, you’re going to hire them and say, like, okay, I want to hire you. You’ve worked out, you’ve negotiated salary, you should be paying them once a week for the first couple of months because again, they’re scared about not getting paid. And then you can pay them monthly after that which is what I do, or bi monthly.
I tell them my expectations like I expect you to work this many hours a week. For me, I don’t have a specific set of hours that I want you to work other than just get your work done and work this many hours. I don’t have specific policies for paid time off other than just let me know ahead of time when you’re going to take time off and I’m fine with it. I don’t really care how much time you take off. I just want to know ahead, and when can you start? And often they’ll say, oh, I can start tomorrow morning or I guess on Monday, right?
And that’s really the end of it. They’re starting to work. There are no like 1099s, there’s no social security numbers to deal with. There’s no insurance, there’s no taxes. This is one of the great things about this is you don’t have to deal with employee issues. But you’re still getting an employee. So is that helpful? Does that make sense?
Mike: Yeah, it’s incredibly helpful. It’s interesting, because you’re the only person I’ve ever talked to that has Filipino workers that has the same vacation policy that we do. So let’s talk about that just as we were saying as I’ve had a lot of people like flip out when I tell them we have a summer vacation policy. I mean the question I get all the time. So I’ll ask you the same question is like, how do you keep people from taking advantage of that?
John: I don’t keep people from taking advantage. I’ve never had an issue with it.
Mike: Yeah, you just treat them right. And you want people that — I mean what I say is that, like if you’re going to take advantage of me, you probably aren’t benefiting here anyway.
John: Yeah, right.
Mike: So I mean.
John: I’ve never said no to someone saying, hey, can I have this time? Like, I always just say yes, right. From my perspective, the — okay so the Philippines is a very third world country, like its third world outside of Manila. Manila is Island, but still it’s third world. And you’re doing a good thing hiring these people and giving them a job. And often it’s a job that they wouldn’t have otherwise had, there’s not an opportunity. And on the other side of it, they’re doing really amazing things for me. They allow me to live a way better lifestyle, and to make a lot of money and to spend a lot of time with my family. And I want to make their lives better.
And that’s not the approach I started with. But the more you see these people and how good they are, the more you’ll start to see like, oh yeah, I want to take care of this person. And when they ask me for upfront salary, don’t ever pay salary up front in the beginning?
John: Only do it after you’ve established trust with someone. But like, yes, I guess I want to give you money ahead of time so you can pay for your kid’s school, right? You’ll learn that you want to take care of these people.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, I completely agree. It’s a nightmare just them and just all of our employees. But even more so, I mean, when you you’re coming from a first world country and just see like the disparity there, it definitely makes your heart bleed a little bit, right. And we want to do it more.
John: Yeah, yeah, very much.
Mike: Cool. Well, definitely some awesome stuff. I apologize; we’re already running over, because we try to keep these 30 minutes. But it’s just been so interesting. Any other — like we took just a couple more minutes. Any other like really impactful things you can think of to throw at anyone that still hasn’t hit the off button yet.
John: Yeah. So the number one problem you’ll run to with Filipino workers is them disappearing. And they disappear because they’re shy. So if they feel like they’re going to let you down, or that you’re going to be disappointed or if you have given them a reason to think that you’re going to be disappointed with the work, if you put them in a situation where they have to step over the edge and try something different, they’re likely to just disappear rather than do it. So it’s really important that you build their trust. I know often we think, oh, I don’t know if I can trust this person? They think the same thing and they’re feeling is stronger than yours.
So it’s really important that as you hire this person, or work with them, you give them reasons to trust you. And that means you provide them training, you provide them feedback; you provide them positive feedback before you provide them negative feedback. And obviously, this is just general good management. But it’s especially important in the Philippines that you let them know you’re here to help them do their job and to succeed in their job. This is how you prevent them disappearing VA. And if they disappear, something is wrong. It’s not they don’t want the job, it’s not they’re lazy. It’s that they don’t know how to do something you’ve asked them to do or they’re stuck on something.
And so you need to go seek it out. They’ve disappeared. You haven’t heard from them in three days or a week, email them, and say, hey, I know something is wrong. You’re stuck on something, what is wrong? And that question right there will solve like, 90% of disappearing issues. You just have to go find it.
Mike: Good stuff. Yeah. I mean, we haven’t had that issue. But I’ve heard several people tell me that they’ve had that problem. And yeah, I mean, I think it’s really good advice. Yeah. So I mean, again, I’d love to go do this for like I do a part two, someday, we can get you back on in a few months and do part two. But I want to leave just a little bit of room here for you to just to talk about Onlinejobs.ph in closing because it’s been such an invaluable resource for us.
Many people know that we have very few people come on the podcast to talk about a product or service. And the ones that we do are all ones that that we use, and we are not being paid in any way to have this podcast. So I just to make sure people know that this is a service that’s been invaluable to us and make sure people know that this wasn’t like done because of money. So just take a couple of minutes to talk about Onlinejobs.ph before we close here.
John: So it’s kind of like a class at my dad’s place, right? It’s a marketplace where you’re — just a database. It’s just a huge database of workers. And you just connect with them and hire them as you see fit. We don’t mark up salaries, we don’t have contracts, they don’t work for us. It’s really the best of both worlds where they get to work from home, you don’t pay extra salary, you get to work out with them. They get a really good situation; you get a really good situation. You pay to access, to contact workers. So you pay — it’s a subscription. But you only pay it while you’re recruiting. As soon as you’ve hired someone you’re done recruiting, you cancel and just be done with us.
Mike: Yeah, I think it’s incredibly fair really. I mean, the only other thing you guys do offer I believe is like a time tracking or something like that, that is an ongoing subscription.
John: No, the time tracking is free.
Mike: Oh is it? Okay.
John: But it’s forever.
Mike: I was thinking about [overlapping 00:40:25].
John: You can pay your workers through us. That’s also a free service. The only thing we charge for is just contacting workers. So we try and do it — like, I built the system that I wanted to use because like I don’t like paying marked up salaries.
Mike: Yeah, a lot of people…
John: I want to hire someone and have them work for me forever. I don’t want to pay a markup on that salary forever.
Mike: And it puts you in between the person hiring and the employee. Like, you always have to be like, in the middle of that relationship. So then you got to be the one collecting money from the business and then paying the worker and somehow being like, inserted in there without adding any value realistically throughout the entire time period and it doesn’t make sense.
John: And I don’t like it. So I mean, I don’t need to say anything more about Online Jobs. The real thing with this is like I work about 17 hours a week, and I’ve been there for about 12 years, maybe not 12 years, maybe 11, maybe 10. But the four hour workweek is real. It’s like I said in the beginning, it’s a matter of who’s doing the work in your businesses, you or someone else. And this doesn’t work for everybody. Some personalities just can’t make this work. And the only way for you to know if it’s going to work is just to try it. In the end you just have to try it. The potential downside is you lose a couple of hundred bucks. The potential upside is you get hours back. And that’s a big deal.
Mike: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Awesome John. Well, I don’t want to run too much more into your 17 hours. I’ll let you go. I really appreciate your time. It was an honor having you on. I want to thank you personally from the bottom my heart for creating this service and having it available. I mean, like I said, it’s at least 10 or 11 of the 13 people that we have on our staff have come because of Onlinejobs.ph. The rest were referrals from other people we’d already hired. So we don’t even have another service that we’ve used successfully. We have run some stuff on local papers and stuff but just never had any success with anything but Onlinejobs.ph. So I also want to thank you for helping us build — we built here because without the platform, it wouldn’t have been possible.
John: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Mike: Thanks, John. I appreciate you coming on the show. And let’s catch up again and do this again sometime.
John: Sounds good. Thanks for having me.
Mike: Thanks a lot.
And that’s a wrap. I hope you guys enjoyed episode number 154 of the EcomCrew Podcast with our special guest John Jonas from Onlinejobs.ph. I just want to mention again that John did not pay or sponsor, or anything like that to be on the show. We don’t do that here at EcomCrew. This is a service that I have personally used for a couple of years, and it was a true honor and pleasure as I’ve said to have John on the show. I want to thank him for having Onlinejobs.ph there for us. It’s been an amazing resource and hope you guys will check it out. Again www.Onlinejobs.ph, not dot com, dot ph is the Philippines extension.
Again, it’s been a great service for us. You can go to EcomCrew.com/154 to get to the show notes for this particular episode. Ask us any questions you might have. John will also follow up in the comments. And until the next episode everybody, happy selling, we’ll talk to you then.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.