Andrew Cerda is a recruiting professional who's worked for several tech firms, including ClassPass, Foursquare, and Yelp. Andrew told us about which types of positions are plentiful in the tech industry, which types of traits are required to get a job with a major tech firm, and what candidates can do to improve their chances of getting hired. Below is an excerpt of Andrew's conversation with Vault.
VAULT: How long have you worked in the field? What made you want to enter this career?
CERDA: I’ve worked in the Internet/social media world for a little over four years. When looking for a post-college job, I gravitated toward companies I either knew, or that looked equally exciting while conducting my initial research (aka Google searches, company Web page reviews, etc).
Ultimately, I chose to begin working for an Internet company for three reasons: the people, the product, and the place. While interviewing, it was evident that individuals in the Internet space were intelligent and fun. Regardless of age, they were youthful, energetic, and intuitive. They made me laugh, challenged me, and supported the idea of continued growth and support. What the company did, built, or accomplished was also important. In that regard, I gravitated toward companies whose “product” was something useful or “cool” (trendy, popular, and/or interesting). It was also nice that in the Internet world there’s a sense of fluidity and iteration—the product is in flux, growth, constant production, etc. Knowing that there would be change was exciting and supported a sense of opportunity and reward. Lastly, I wanted to enjoy where I worked. This includes the perks of the office environments typically associated with tech companies: open floor environments, kitchens, games, etc. Seeing and feeling a space that supported socializing and collaborating on top of day-to-day working influenced my decision to enter the space.
VAULT: What type of workers do you recruit? What are some of the hot positions in your industry?
CERDA: I recruit nontechnical members of the team. This includes individuals across all nonengineering teams, such as product, design, marketing, communications, business development, operations, and sales. Sales is where I have filled the most number of jobs. Some of the most sought-after roles are in product and business development, although every organization has specific needs in these departments that often limit the pool of eligible candidates. Not all skills are transferable across roles, and within specific functions, such as product development and business development, making the hiring process more arduous despite the popularity of those roles. On the flip side, I find that when you work for a great product, sales is equally as popular because sales professionals enjoy [their work] and believe they’ll be more successful when working for companies they truly believe in.
VAULT: What advice would you give to job seekers in terms of applying to and interviewing for jobs?
CERDA: While it’s easy to be “transactional” when applying for a job, success is stronger on both sides of the equation when it is not. What I mean by this is that I feel candidates who put more energy and personalization into applying for a job tend to be more successful. Simply submitting a resume to an open job is not always enough. As an employer, it shows me that an applicant did not put thought or effort into their candidacy, despite a possible match between job requirements and a person’s qualifications on paper.
VAULT: How is the interview process changing? What can applicants expect when they interview?
CERDA: There’s been a rapid shift in the technologies behind recruiting. Many companies, including those I’ve recruited for, use new software to track applicants and manage the recruiting lifecycle. This software allows a recruiter to be more efficient in their craft, as well as tap internal resources in strong ways (e.g., employee referrals and employee networks). A lot of this includes “social” means of recruiting, such as personal and professional networks of employees, and sourcing talent, versus relying on inbound applicants.
On a different note, I find interviews in my industry to be long and thought-out processes. Despite the specific positions, there are additional layers where we evaluate candidates that may not be directly related to the responsibilities of the job. For example, we look for insights on a candidate’s analytical abilities, soft/people skills, product intuition, craft and process, ability to solve problems/thought processes, passion for the product, and the ever elusive “cultural” fit.
VAULT: What can people do to improve their chances of being hired by tech/social media companies? How do you typically find prospective hires?
CERDA: Networking is an art, and many of my conversations are the result of a person’s ability to dig into their personal and professional circles. This can be through the effective use of sites like LinkedIn or a university alumni site, or just knowing when to pick up a conversation about job opportunities with a stranger at a bar.
VAULT: Are there common areas in which tech/social media industry job seekers are deficient? If so, what are they, and how can they improve these areas?
CERDA: Tech/social media jobs are highly desirable, and as a recruiter in the field, I’ve had the privilege of high applicant ratios for the jobs I post. Where job seekers are often deficient is in the ability to move beyond the fluff, jargon, and hand-waviness of our industry to truly understand cause, effect, complexity, and opportunity. This is one of the reasons interviewing for insights and skills in many areas (referencing above: analytical abilities, soft/people skills, product intuition, craft and process, ability to solve problems/thought processes, passion for the product, and the ever elusive “cultural” fit) is so important. We have to ensure a candidate is not “pulling the wool over our eyes,” and is unable to truly make contributions and a long-term impact. To be successful in the field, applicants should challenge themselves to understand the bigger picture thoughts as well as the intricacies and details of the activity in social media and vice-versa. Just because one tweets, does not mean they know how to tweet, or the impact of Twitter.
This post was excerpted from the new Vault Career Guide to Social Media.