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22 Aug 2016

Working At YNAB

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by Lindsey Burgess

Today, at YNAB, we have 42 team members and it is about 41 more than I’m comfortable with.

But every time I say I don’t want to hire, we hire four more people. And right now we are working on hiring several new designers and a couple marketing folks. So, we are hiring a lot.

It is still a little bit hard for me to believe that we such a big team (big for us!), but I’m really proud of what we’ve built. YNAB is a really great place to work. We care about that immensely.

What’s it like to work at YNAB?

Everyone is remote. Well, three of us do actually work out of a little YNAB house in Utah, but we could work remotely if we wanted to. The rest of the team is spread all across the world. We’ve got people in Scotland, Switzerland, and let’s see, Brazil, several in Canada. Then in the United States, I think we’re in 22 different states now.

It’s a fantastic place to work if you are self-driven, if you like autonomy, creativity, and if you’re okay working with a bunch of people that are just super-friendly. If that makes you uncomfortable, I don’t think YNAB would be the place for you. It is a seriously, friendly bunch.

We Shoot Straight.

We avoid politics. We keep things simple. We shoot straight. We lean toward excellent communicators who are confidently humble. If it’s possible, we opt for video chat, or at least live chat, and then resort to email as a last resort. Of course, there is a lot about remote work that we still have to learn—lots of room to improve—we, by no means, have it all figured out.

We Like Balance.

We have fantastic benefits. You get vacation time. We have a minimum vacation policy—three weeks minimum, plus we close for two weeks before Christmas—so most people hit four or five weeks at least.

And it’s not lip service. I take vacation. Our CTO takes vacation. A lot of times there’s a little trick where a company will say, “Oh yeah, take vacation whenever you want,” but it isn’t really culturally acceptable so no one does it. We don’t do that. So if you like vacation, YNAB’s a good place to work.

We’re All Grown-Ups.

We work hard and we’re focused and extremely driven—very task-oriented. Everyone’s very, very autonomous, and just full of self-management. I like to believe that we are all grown-ups. We take a lot of measures to hire really great people, and so it has always been my belief to give people the benefit of the doubt, and empower them to do what we hired them to do. If you are used to micromanaging, or I should say very, very proactive management (because micro-managing has negative connotations), it might be an adjustment. I’ve been told this is an area where I could improve, that I give people way too much leash and then they actually are uncomfortable. So I’ve been working on it, just laying out clearer expectations, management 101 kind of stuff. Always room to improve!

We Excel At The Fun Stuff.

We do birthdays really well. Personal notes from everyone on the team and a gift. Not a gift card, a gift just for you.

We have everyone fill out a bucket list when they first come on, and that kind of helps us get to know new folks a little bit better and give more personal gifts. You’re allowed to look at other people’s bucket lists and steal their ideas; that’s just fine.

All the full-timers get together once a year for a couple days, just to have fun together. Sure, we talk shop, but we also play laser tag and spike ball. This year it was a huge cabin in the mountains, and the year before that it was Costa Rica. I’m not allowed to say where we are going in 2017. But it’s going to be awesome. We also do team meet-ups about every six months or so. It allows people to work face-to-face, and get to know each other a little better. That can be one of the downsides of remote work—you just don’t connect as quickly—so you have to be intentional about it. Which we are.

We Actually Help People.

One of the best things about working at YNAB—and I think I can speak for the team on this point—is that we are working on a product that changes people’s lives. It’s pretty powerful. I’ve been doing this for quite awhile now, and it just never gets old, hearing stories of lives changed, marriages saved, stress eliminated and opportunities born. I love it.

We Take Our Culture Seriously.

Our culture is very jokey, but we take it all very seriously. It is something we work hard to protect. We think it is a huge part of why it is so great to work at YNAB, and ultimately, has a huge impact on the product. We have a Cultural Manifesto and we really try to find people for whom our values resonate deeply. So far, we are very happy with the results.

We Hire Slowly.

We will be the first to admit that our hiring process is pretty arduous. Once you make it, it’s totally worth it, but it is rather long and involved.

The best advice I can give you if you want to work at YNAB (or anywhere, really) is to write a killer cover letter.

We typically get 400-500 applications—a recent marketing position got nearly 900 applications!—so you have to stand out with your cover letter. Focus on what makes you different from the rest. Absorb our Cultural Manifesto and then connect with us the way we try to connect with you.

I know this isn’t our typical fare, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. But no fear, back to our regularly scheduled budgeting programming tomorrow! Thanks for indulging me!

 

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Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)

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