Applying for jobs in a tech-driven process: The takeaways

Last week I presented on job searching in a tech-driven process to Columbia Business School alumni. By tech-driven process, I mean conducting a job search that feels largely driven by technology rather than humans. This could mean:

  • Searching and sourcing job opportunities online (LinkedIn, Indeed, company career pages)
  • Applying via company application portals
  • Reaching out to contacts via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

This is, in many ways, the reality of the modern job search! But as someone who has touched so many elements of technology in the recruiting process – as a recruiter, a data analyst, a product manager and a recruiting operations leader – it crushes me to hear how painful people’s experiences and outcomes are with these elements of the job search. I don’t know that I can make it less painful, but I certainly find some sliver of fulfillment sharing why the process is configured this way and how modern job seekers can proactively pursue opportunities instead of feel like anonymous data bits in a huge world of applicants.

In my presentation, I go through some of the elements of why companies share their jobs the way they do and then talk through the myths and realities of applying. I’ll post here when I have another presentation coming soon. In the meantime, I’ll share some takeaways for job seekers.

  1. Online applications should not be your only connection to a company. There’s a lot to this single sentence – sometimes applying immediately for a job you see posted is the best way to go! But if you are spending all your time applying online, your job search will likely take a very, very long time.
  2. Forget gaming the system – apply as if you’re communicating with a person. This is because at many companies, the goal is to have a person touch all relevant applications!
  3. Companies that are serious about hiring treat their applicants well, and poor experiences can be an early red flag. Companies that are competing for great talent are thoughtful about the experience for everyone going through their process – whether they get an offer or not. So consider your own experience as a candidate informative.

Job search strategy in a tech-driven process

I’m hosting a webinar on job searching next Thursday, Feb 13 for alumni of Columbia Business School. If you’re part of that community, you can sign up here: http://cbs.cglink.me/r2955. If not, read on — if this topic interests you I’ll post a recap following the workshop next week.

If you’re job searching, chances are you’ve shared your information with an applicant tracking system – an ATS. This is the software companies use to manage their recruiting process. This workshop on the myths and realities of ATS will orient you to what is critical in your application and job search strategies that position you for success in a technology-driven process.

I’ve worked in recruiting and HR technology for over ten years, touching nearly every aspect of hiring from corporate recruiting, to people analytics, to recruiting operations and product management of ATS systems. Join me next Thursday!

Career coaching and racecar drivers

My friend Ed Cangialosi and I have followed similar paths a few years apart. We’re both alumni of Dickinson College and their Bologna study abroad program, and more recently alumni of Columbia Business School. We continue to cross paths, and it was so nice of him to feature me in his series on coaching based on my experiences working with students and alumni from both institutions, especially now in my work as a career coach for Columbia.

Ed works in gift planning for Columbia and also seems to be a life-long side hustler. When we first met, he did custom bike fitting and he’s now a racing coach. It was really interesting to hear how he has applied experience on the raceway with management challenges in his full-time job, and vice versa!

I think combining this idea of finding focus with developing your listening skills is super important for a coach. As I consider my conversation with Missy it strikes me that getting your students to take flight on their own is really why anyone should be interested in coaching. And when I think about my experience at the track when I’m one to one with my student in the car, my goal is to drive less and less from the right seat of their car, that is tell them less and less through our headsets about where to brake, how much to turn, etc., as I observe them picking up the tools I am teaching and applying them during our day. Like Missy, my favorite bit is when I see a student applying the tools they’ve learned in subsequent track days.

Ed Cangialosi

You can read his piece in full here.

I wrote a thing!

My first piece is up on the Greenhouse blog, link here. It’s called “Navigating a Mess: Three Steps to Revamping Your Broken Talent Processes” and it’s my step-by-step guide to how I’ve navigated problematic recruiting practices in my own career.

In my decade of recruiting experience, I’ve worked for an organization that still used an entirely paper-based candidate tracking system (hello filing cabinets!). In another role, I joined a team that didn’t trust any of its recruiting data. When I first realized these challenges, I felt disappointed, overwhelmed, and even a little mad! But in hindsight, my experiences of turning tricky and ineffective situations into something great are some of the highlights of my career so far.

If you’re in the recruiting space or if you’re facing a challenging mess in your role, these steps may help you step back, realize that others have been there, and assess the best way to move forward. Check it out!

My big audacious goal

Have you ever set a goal? Was it a goal that was ju-u-u-st out of your comfort zone or was it something that was an incredible reach, maybe even something you thought you had a low likelihood of achieving? That is, was it… audacious?

Audacious has two meanings with slightly different tones:

  1. showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.
  2. showing an impudent lack of respect.

Sometimes goals are drivers to do something bold, something unexpected. And sometimes goals strive to show that something can be done when “they” say it can’t. I’m really open to both interpretations here.

I’m thinking about a new project and I want to hear from people who have set a big, audacious goal. No need to have achieved it. I’m curious about why you set that goal, what you did to reach it, and what happened as a result.

You can message me directly here.

Next step on the path

It’s a common refrain to say that people switch careers 5-7 times in their life (though this is mostly unsubstantiated). It’s my turn to make a switch and it feels very exciting!

I recently joined Greenhouse Software as a consultant to the marketing team. If you’ve applied to jobs in the past few years, you may have touched Greenhouse’s core product, a recruiting platform used by Buzzfeed, SquareSpace, and Warby Parker, among others. Beyond being an innovative and fast-growing company, it’s also been ranked as a top workplace by Inc. Magazine.

This new role brings together a few threads in my career. I’m now focused on a product in the HR technology space, tapping my 10+ years of recruiting experience and moving into a new function as I focus on marketing strategy. This has been a goal of mine for a few years so I’m happy to step into this next phase. Onward and upward!

Climbing Like a Girl

This June I signed up for Climb Like a Girl at Brooklyn Boulders in my neighborhood. I have been climbing just a few times before but really enjoyed it. I was looking for a new challenge and this seemed like the perfect early summer activity. Climbing combines a physical challenge with puzzle solving and it is completely addictive. With Climb Like a Girl, I’ll be climbing twice a week all this month with a group of other climbing gals at Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge.

I have a fear of heights and it’s something I’m facing as I get better at scaling the wall. Every climb I feel the push of wanting to reach the final hold and the pull of safe, solid ground below. I hate falling! But it’s exhilarating to solve every new puzzle and progress slowly from V0s and V1s to V2s… and hopefully beyond.

The photos are from my first visit to Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge with my sisters in 2017. We had a great time bouldering for the first time together. Looking forward to some more climbs in the coming weeks!

Vision of the Future

I often find it exhilarating to hear about visions of the future. To be fair, these can sometimes be dystopian but I’m thinking more along of the lines of the Disney World vision of “Look at these amazing things ahead!”

Visually these conversations bring to mind a scene from Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. Spaceship Earth is a ride inside the iconic geodesic dome at Epcot at Walt Disney World. The ride, at one point sponsored by AT&T (corporate sponsorships for rides, genius!), tells the story of the history of communication through animatronics: cave paintings in France, the lectures of Socrates, and the invention of the printing press are a few of the scenes presented. There is also a section that looks ahead to what is possible for human communication using technology.

One of these visions particularly thrilled me in the 1990s – a mother archaeologist, on site at a remote dig, video chatting with her child comfortably at home. This was a vision of the future I wanted to be a part of. First, a working mother who travels with an exciting job – amazing! But also the ability to connect with close family no matter the distance.

Well, it’s 2019 and we have Facetime. So that dream has come true. But I get this same feeling of exhilaration reading some of these predictions about AI and its potential to enhance human connection and performance in this article.

Here are some particuarly hopeful selections:

  • “By 2030, most social situations will be facilitated by bots — intelligent-seeming programs that interact with us in human-like ways. At home, parents will engage skilled bots to help kids with homework and catalyze dinner conversations. At work, bots will run meetings. A bot confidant will be considered essential for psychological well-being, and we’ll increasingly turn to such companions for advice ranging from what to wear to whom to marry.” —Judith Donath, Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
  • “The developed world faces an unprecedented productivity slowdown that promises to limit advances in living standards. A.I. has the potential to play an important role in boosting productivity and living standards.” —Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • “People will increasingly realize the importance of interacting with each other and the natural world and they will program A.I. to support such goals, which will in turn support the ongoing emergence of the ‘slow movement.’ For example, grocery shopping and mundane chores will be allocated to A.I. (smart appliances), freeing up time for preparation of meals in keeping with the slow food movement. Concern for the environment will likewise encourage the growth of the slow goods/slow fashion movement. The ability to recycle, reduce, reuse will be enhanced by the use of in-home 3-D printers, giving rise to a new type of ‘craft’ that is supported by A.I.” —Dana Klisanin, psychologist, futurist and game designer

To be fair, many of the predictions in the article are not nearly so rosy. Many point out the potential for AI to be destructive and misery-making for much of humanity — scary stuff. Reading these comments from AI experts and futurists, I appreciate the spectrum of visions that seemed lacking when I was happily dreaming about my 2019 life during a Disney trip. I think (and I hope) that these warnings are driving conversations about how industries will shape AI as we move into the future.

3 tips to read more books

I’ve always been an avid reader but this year my reading has increased exponentially. I’ve religiously tracked my reading on Goodreads since 2016 and noticed my reading volume has doubled since the start of the year. Here’s my book counts as of June 1 over four years. Note that the spike in 2019 isn’t due to reading shorter books. I’ve already read more pages in 2019 than I did for all of 2018!

Here’s a few ways I’ve kicked up my reading volume in 2019:

  1. I always have a book available to read. Sometimes I carry a physical book, which is my preferred format. Even better, late last year I downloaded Libby on my phone, which means I can instantly check out books on my phone from the New York Public Library.
  2. Reading is my go-to downtime activity. I don’t have a TV and my guitar is getting dusty. In the past, when I had a few moments free I’d sometime read an article online or clean up my email. Now I go directly to a book. Those little moments here and there add up.
  3. Track! YMMV but I really enjoy tracking and reviewing the books I read. Goodreads is my go-to social media.

Here’s my year in books for 2019. Feel free to follow me on Goodreads if you use it!

*Photo of my sister Autumn at a bookstore in Reykjavik, Iceland during our November 2017 trip.

Life hack: The Pomodoro technique

Here’s a plug for a practice I’ve leaned on more and more to make sure I’m getting things done, particularly those important-but-hard-to-sit-down-and-do things.

I experience the textbook case of procrastination due to perfectionism. When I have a vision for how I want something to turn out, it’s often overwhelming for me to start or at least keep it going. The Pomodoro technique totally wipes this out.

Here’s a summary of the Pomodoro technique. Many advocates advise not using the timer on your phone but I always have with no issue. I also don’t stick to the rules about how many Pomodoros to do before taking a break. It’s rare that I find a block of clear time longer than 1-2 hours in my day.

This is why the Pomodoro technique works so well for me:

  1. Offers a low barrier-to-entry to just getting started. Rather than clearing my desk, reaching inbox zero and having a snack before starting a project (all sneaky ways to procrastinate!), I just start the timer and work. It’s only 25 minutes!
  2. Captures actual effort exerted. Recently I lamented that a project was taking the whole day. Then I realized I had only done two Pomodoros, with the rest of my time going to two phone meetings, a coffee and lunch. So in reality I had only worked on that thing for less than one hour. A much needed reality check!

I recommend trying it out, especially if you’re prone to procrastination.