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The State of Hiring

with Maia Josebachvili, Bret Reckard & Erica Lockheimer

July 20, 2021
The State of Hiring
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Maia Josebachvili - Head of M&A and Investing (interim) @ Stripe

Maia Josebachvili is the Head of Corp Dev (M&A and Investing), and was previously Head of People and a member of the Leadership Team at Stripe. Previously she was Vice President of Strategy, Marketing, and People at Greenhouse. Maia also had stints as a Founder & CEO, a derivatives trader on Wall Street, an engineer, and a pro-skydiver.

Bret Reckard - Talent Partner @ Sequoia Capital

Bret Reckard leads Sequoia Capital’s early-stage Talent org. This team partners closely with founders as they progress from self to seed to IPO. In nine years he’s helped hundreds of startups build their engineering and leadership orgs for scale. Previously, he led global hiring at Mozilla.

Erica Lockheimer - VP of Engineering, Talent Solutions, Learning, and Glint @ LinkedIn

Erica Lockheimer has been at LinkedIn for over 8 years and most recently held the role of VP of Engineering heading the Growth Engineering team, where her focus was on increasing growth in new members and deepening engagement with members across LinkedIn's products. She started the Growth Team from the ground up to now a high performing 120-person team. In January 2018 she moved on to her next play at LinkedIn and is now the head of Engineering for the LinkedIn Learning team, formerly known as Lynda.com.

She is also responsible for LinkedIn's Women In Tech (WIT) initiative that is focused on empowering women in technical roles within the company. Prior to LinkedIn, she worked at Good Technology as Director of Server Engineering to securely manage and synchronize e-mail and calendar data between Exchange and mobile devices. She loves the challenge of starting with something nascent and carving out the right strategy, hiring the best people, and plotting a course to drive results. In 2014 and 2015, Erica was also voted amongst the top 22 women engineers in the world by Business Insider. Erica is a San Francisco Bay Area native, has 2 kids, loves to run and is a graduate from San Jose State University with a B.S. in Computer Engineering.

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Show Notes

  • Introduction to Maia, Bret & Erica’s & their experience with the hiring ecosystem (1:08)
  • The current state of hiring for engineering leaders in 2021 (2:58)
  • Sourcing Trends (8:10)
  • How platforms like LinkedIn are evolving with sourcing trends (17:05)
  • Interviewing tactics (21:26)
  • How the priorities of job seekers are changing (27:42)
  • How to uncover values & priorities during the interview process (29:57)
  • Compensation predictions (34:30)
  • Final Advice on hiring in 2021 (39:55)


Introduction to Maia, Bret & Erica’s experience with the hiring ecosystem in tech

In 2020, the landscape of hiring completely changed. The transition to remote and hybrid work has surfaced new hurdles and variables. So what are the emerging trends? What are the challenges? And what's working?

To answer these questions. We sat down with experts with a vast set of experiences from across the hiring and recruiting ecosystem and tech to share their perspectives on the state of hiring and what that means for engineering leaders.

Maia Josebachvili: Maia here I am leading Corp Dev, which is M and A, and investing here at Stripe. And before that I was our head of people for the last two years.

Previously, I've been a CMO VP of Strategy and VP of People at Greenhouse, which is a recruiting software. And in past lives, I've been a pro skydiver. I was a founder and GM of a couple of businesses, which I sold to Living Social and was a derivatives trader as well.

Erica Lockheimer: My name is Erica Lockheimer. I'm VP of Engineering for three lines of business that we have at LinkedIn. One is our talent solutions product, which is how job recruiters basically find talent on LinkedIn's wonderful network. And then also how job seekers find opportunity.

And then also LinkedIn Learning Solutions, help people get the skills to either find their next job or be better at their job. And then also a Glint, which is an employee voice survey to understand how employees are feeling.

I've been at LinkedIn for almost 11 years. So it's kind of crazy to see the evolution and all the things that we've created.

Bret Reckard: I'm Brett Reckard. I've been at Sequoia now for a little over nine years leading our early stage talent team.

Each year, our team works with over 40 Seed and series A founders to build out their core EPD orgs. And my perspective at the moment is that even with the rise of remote work, flattening of the earth this past year, that the market has just never been tighter.

And I'm excited to be here to discuss what we're seeing out in the wild.

The current state of hiring for engineering leaders in 2021

Patrick Gallagher: We asked Maia, Brett, and Erica to share their perspective on the current state of hiring.

Erica Lockheimer: A headline is it is challenging because there are so many needs out there from so many companies in order to find the best talent. And there's tons of talent out there.

So I would say it's challenging, but I believe that we have the tools and the platform to make that a lot easier for recruiters and job seekers. But challenging would be the headline.

Bret Reckard: My thesis is that we're in for incredibly tight next two years and probably longer in the talent market. And my headline is " Iterate or Fail."

So why so tight venture investing dollars are up 94% year over year, we have a large number of IPO's and exits last year. We have sort of another similar level this year. Unicorn counts are up over a thousand globally. And public company valuations are way up.

So at one end of the market, you have people who maybe are interested in those early stage opportunities that are trapped in golden handcuffs. And on the other end, you have companies that are forming, receiving a bunch of venture dollars and hungry for talent. And the market is just super stretched.

And so the simple fact is... funding might be up, but the talent pool just hasn't grown by that same 94%. And so to succeed, in my opinion, leaders really need to be more aggressive and really dissect our process. Think about everything from our candidates point of view and strip out anything that isn't going to help a candidate either say yes at the end of your process or get to the end of your process.

And because candidates are going to be sort of moving through this process really fast, on your side, you need to be confident and prepared that you're evaluating core components. That you're removing as much bias and nice to haves from your process as possible. And that you're just being very intentional about every step.

And really thinking closely about hurdles like coding challenges, and take home tests, and how any, hurdle you're putting into your process is either helping you or pushing people away from your company.

Maia Josebachvili: To put it really simply, it is hard right now. And I'm hearing that across the board and I'm experiencing as well as a hiring manager. You know, I'm trying to hire a few product folks. Everyone I'm talking to has multiple, very competitive offers. And I'm seeing it even go down the stack, not just in hiring engineers, and product folks, but even with technical recruiters.

I'm on a thread with a bunch of chief people officers. And one of the conversations we were having last month is... it used to be that everyone was trying to hire were engineers. Now they're also trying to hire away our technical recruiter. So it's really going full stack. And that's how competitive it is.

One thing I think about with all of this is. One of the folks I quote most is Oli Thompson. He was my skydiving instructor back in my college days. So for those that worked with me, you know I in a previous life had 750 skydives. Big skydiver.

And Oli was one of my big inspirations. Just to paint the picture of him because I think it's helpful. At the time. I thought he was this wise old man, you know, Vermont hippy, skydiving instructor. He was probably 40, but in your twenties, that felt very old and wise.

Anyway, I would say to Oli, Oli I'm scared, you know, not every time, but sometimes I would say, "Hey, Oli I'm scared." And he would look at me and he would say, that's good. I would be concerned if you weren't. You're about to jump out of an airplane.

And I say this because I would still jump out of the airplane. It would just be hard. And it would be scary. And I think we're all in that same position right now, which is hiring is really challenging right now. But that doesn't mean we can't do it. We just have to figure out how we navigate this new world and come out positively through it.

I equate it a lot to when the landscape is changing a lot and you're building a product. On the one hand, it does mean you might have to change your strategy. On the other hand, a very quickly changing landscape can present a lot of opportunities and can create some winners in the world.

And so while on for the long-term, I don't think hiring is a zero sum game. I think quite the opposite. I am really heartened to see how much the world has really embraced the idea of starting, you know, engineering education much earlier. You know, I maybe not too early though, I downloaded an app for my four year olds to try to code and it did not work well.

But generally I think over time I can imagine it will get easier because we will have a lot more people with the skillsets we're all trying to hire. At the moment, it is a little bit zero-sum game and that some companies will be able to emerge as the people who are really, you know, building the strong hiring culture and attracting top talent.

And so what could that look like?

It's very different for different companies, but I can give you an example of something we're trying at Stripe. Big shout out to our recruiting team, who, you know, as I mentioned, hiring technical recruiters is quite challenging right now.

And so one approach we took is we're building a technical recruiting training program. So if you can't just hire all the people you want, how do you help develop them internally? Something creative I saw is folks might've seen this, but Robin hood recently acquired a recruiting agency to help beef up their hiring capacity.

And so I think companies are really starting to get creative with the approaches that they take in this world.

Sourcing Trends

Patrick Gallagher: After getting their high level perspective, we asked about sourcing the challenges, they're seeing, the trends that are emerging and the tactics that are working.

Erica Lockheimer: On the sourcing side, I would break it up, maybe in a couple of different parts. One is as a, as a job seeker, you have so many unique skills that you bring to the table. But what happens is when there's a job posting or recruiter, they say, Hey, these are the requirements for the job. And then when a job seeker sees that, and they're like, This actually doesn't match.

And so then you don't have as many applicants. And what we can do is actually focus more on what are the responsibilities. In fact, we have some surveys that we've done, where if we, if job recruiters focus on responsibilities, rather than requirements, we've seen a 14% increase on, on applies.

And what that also tells you is, I have a skill that skill may overlap into many different job functions. So I think where we've just thought about here's a job, here's a set of requirements. And does it match perfectly exactly this exactly to that job? And I think that's what we need to think about this in a little bit more open-minded way.

Where it's like, Hey, those skillsets that I have maybe as a customer support role also may help in a program management role where my customers are actually the people I'm working with on a project within the company. So I think we need to expand what those responsibilities are and how they can be applied differently. I think we're a little bit more narrow in that way.

And so, and it's a it's an, a chicken and egg thing because a job seeker has to feel that they can do that. And then a job recruiter needs to be able to hire in that way. So if they both don't change, you're actually not going to change the game. So I think those are definitely important aspects.

And then the second part is, you know, if you change those requirements to more responsibilities. Also it's about having diverse talent at the end of the end of the day. So are we making sure that we're tapping the right people. We're outreaching to, Hey, have more diverse candidates of different backgrounds, whether it's gender or the type of schools they went to. Or the type of functions that they may be had on their LinkedIn profile. They worked at these types of companies. Well, don't just put them in that box of these are the only type of companies they can work for. So think about the different skills that someone has, even the different type of job function that they have an industry.

So I think we just need to expand it in, in our thinking in quite a way.

I'll talk about one program that we have that I'm super passionate about. it's called Reach. And you may have a candidate that doesn't have all the background requirements of like, oh, I went to a four year degree. I majored in computer science. I want to be an engineer. Don't have all that check boxes. But maybe I took a bootcamp and I learned those skills.

Now some companies may be like, well, you don't get these requirements. You're not going to be hired. Right. And you're going to automatically be lost. Right. But what we have as a program called Reach where maybe you don't have every single little requirement. But what we can do is we can get you part of a program and teach you to be an engineer within nine months. And if you meet the bar, then you're really an apprentice. You're like in training and we will promote you to, to an engineer.

We've been having this program run for several, several years and it's been super productive. And the outcomes have been amazing. I have some of these Reach candidates that start off as apprentices on my team. And now they're senior level engineers.

So the growth is there. The potential is there. You just really need the type of people that have the potential to learn and that always learning mindset and that growth mindset. And then you also need the recruiters and people are able to recruit differently and say, Hey, I want to invest in them.

Bret Reckard: One One trend is the talent pool is shrinking. And another trend is using automation to approve all of the outbound conversions. So companies are using tools like Gem and Covey to automate a bunch of their outbound numbers. And companies like small startups, midsize, everybody's using them. And frankly, the candidate pool is just getting inundated with emails and across the board we're seeing lower response rates.

And so with the industry pushing increasingly higher volumes of email, like they really need to be thinking about how to spend time building up the branding pieces to make those messages stick.

And so just keep in mind that high volume works for large companies because they have the brand and they've made those investments.

But be careful if you're at a smaller company to mimic just those pure high volume tactics because you need to invest in brand and you need to invest in personalization to make those same things work.

So that means spending time on things like tech blogs, publishing your funding announcements, making sure that your employees update their LinkedIn bios to show that they actually work at your company. And honestly, just being really creative about your outreach.

One company, we work with, Loom.com, when they were hiring for their Head of Design, the CEO sat down and recorded 200 personalized, sort of 10, 15, second clips of him pitching a candidate of why they should be at Loom and why he was specifically interested in having a conversation with them.

And yes, that's kind of creativity sounds excessive, but I really expect that sort of commitment to hiring and commitment to personalization is going to be the norm over the next, well, maybe forever.

Maia Josebachvili: So previously. Not as a blanket rule, but I feel like you'd be scheduling meetings. And usually you schedule your targeted, you know, two, three, sometimes four weeks out because people have to figure out when will I be in what part of town? What days am I in the office? What days am I kind of taking more meetings?

What I'm seeing now pretty consistently across the board is people are scheduling meetings either the same week or early the following week.

And this is, you know, I spent a lot of time in my current role with founders, CEOs, VCs, people who schedules are very contended. And even in those conversations, we're planning meetings... the norm is that it happens in the next five business days, not in the next two or three weeks.

The other observation I've had is the rise of the 15 minute meeting. I remember when my previous manager Stripe, COO Claire put the first 15 minute meeting on my calendar and I was a little bit like, whoa, how can you accomplish so much in 15 minutes?

Turns out she was excellent at the efficient 15 minutes meetings. But in kind of old times, it was a lot harder to conceptualize, I'm in an efficient 15 minute meeting in part, because it took seven minutes to go from one end of the office to the other. Now that you can just, you know, hop into the zoom folks are on time and you can do it very quickly.

I'm seeing a lot more of that. So what do you do with those two things? I've seen and I've been doing it myself with some pretty great results. Lately is you can send folks in mails and do a really low friction high there, love your profile, whatever it is you usually say. But then your call to action is, would you be up for 15 minutes, zoom in the next three days and give them a couple of times.

Why I think that's so effective is it's a really low time commitment. It's kind of easy to do. And people are curious. And so one, you know, one thing that I found is that's been quite helpful is the 15 minute meetings. And I've been getting a higher response rate on those than I ever did trying to schedule coffee chats with potential candidates.

The other thing that I'm seeing is the ability to fast track on-sites really quickly, right? If we were talking about two to three weeks out to schedule a meeting with people, scheduling an onsite sometimes would take four weeks. Right? Because how do you block out half a day? How do you travel? How do you coordinate that with your current employer?

I think people are not in the job market or not. It's not this binary concept. It's really a slider and a scale. And I would even say that where you are on that slider depends a little bit on like, you know, did you get a great email from your manager that day? Or did you have a tough experience in the day before will shift your slider on a day to day.

I say all that You know, there was a candidate I was excited about, but they at the time were not interested, but you know, we kept in touch. I emailed them last Monday and I said, Hey. That role that we were talking about, I'm about to make an offer end of this week, early next week. I just wanted to give you a shot if you want to come in.

And maybe we could fast track a couple of onsites. Sure enough, this candidate said, okay, I'm in we had three meetings on Thursday. This past week we had two more yesterday. And they're fully you know, up in the running now in a way that I don't think would have happened in the before times.

And so I'm not saying that it's all better than it's all easier. There's a lot that's harder, but there are ways that we can take advantage of the changing dynamics to get a competitive advantage right now.

How platforms like LinkedIn are evolving with sourcing trends

Patrick Gallagher: Erica also shared how tools like LinkedIn are evolving their platform and technology to support some of these trends and challenges with sourcing.

Erica Lockheimer: So you think about remote work? Like we look on our platform, do we advertise those jobs in a really great way to meet those needs of remote work or flexible work. So those are some things that we're excited about to bring forward to, you know, all the people on our platform from recruiter side and job seeker side, to make sure that they map that correctly,

because this is an evolution. This is a new world of how people want to work. And so we have to adapt. And we need to make sure that we have the right foundations built in place where they can actually find those opportunities that they're looking for.

So that those are the things we want to build in our platform. That is a little bit more apparent. And, and that's something we're actively working on.

I think another thing that we've also done is equity with within our, within our platform. And so what I mean by that is I'll give you a perfect example... is in our recruiter product, we would have, you know, a recruiter they're looking for, you know, set of engineers. They're going to scroll through the first set of results. And for us, some period of time, you know, those algorithms of how those people show up, did we make sure that there was equity? That it was equal.

And we found out, you know, it wasn't.

So if you have say a hundred candidates and 60%. Are male and the rest is, is female. I want to make sure that first page represents that exact same percentage. And so those are the type of things that we want to make sure that, you know, our platform is equitable. There's trust on our platform, and we make sure that all those candidates show up in the right representation of what that market looks like.

And those are the things that we need to pay attention to of how those matches happen. They're all based on algorithms. And we got to make sure algorithms are equitable and we need to continue to, to monitor it and measure it time and time again.

Interviewing tactics

After getting their perspective on sourcing, we asked about interviewing and the trends and challenges and tactics that they're seeing.

Bret Reckard: I think the number one tactic is making the process extremely personal. With the rise of remote work, it's easy for candidates to take the afternoon off, interview your company a morning off interview at some other company, and then do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day, or do it once a week, because why not keep yourself open to opportunity?

And because it's easier to interview candidates are taking a lot more conversations with way more companies than they ever have before. That can hurt you, but it can also help you in a lot of ways.

I think first being personal helps you convert one of those tire kicking interviews into a real process and converting somebody to actually a hire.

And I think the second way it helps you is the more personal you are, the more a candidate is going to share with you. They'll tell you about what they're looking for, how active they are in the interview process, what actually matters for them. And it allows you to understand like the bucket of things that candidate wants, versus what your company has to offer and if that's bridgeable or not.

Erica Lockheimer: One thing that I feel that we've done at LinkedIn, because we're, we're evolving our platform as we're going through this. Right?

So some of the things that I'm excited about that we've built is now you're, you're doing things where you have a cover story. We just recently launched that on LinkedIn. If you've seen it work now, when you hover over your profile, You can have a video representation of yourself. And that is a real quick way for people to kind of get to know you a little bit better rather than this static profile that you have in your profile.

So I think that is one thing that we added that we're seen as is being utilized and it just brings it to life. Whereas before you maybe had to get on that phone call, you had to meet them in person and be able to get a feel of who they are. I think that's one representation of how we're evolving the product.

You might have noticed on some of the LinkedIn profiles open to work or hiring. It's like put yourself out there in a more direct way on the platform so that people know that "I am looking for a job. I am open to work, finding me, reach out to me in any way."

And so you think about all the tools of how you can reach out to someone, right? You have LinkedIn messaging is a way and just connecting and encouraging people to apply to jobs on the platform. So there's just so many ways that I see it differently happening in this world.

Maia Josebachvili: Hiring is about the long game, especially hiring leaders. As I think about the best leaders I've hired over time , and the roles I've taken in my career. Almost all of them I can point to the first conversation we had at least a year prior to, you know, when we started the formal interview process. And I see that across the board.

What's special about where we are right now. And what we can do to take advantage is like, you just talked about, these 15 minute meetings, this kind of quick check-in, it's a lot easier to have these touch points with folks, you know, across the year. And so maybe these 15 minute meetings, aren't the, "let's have the full interview conversation,"

But it's an easy way to stay in touch. And like I said, play the long game and keep folks warm so that when they are in that moment ready to make a jump you're their top of mind.

Bret Reckard: I think the biggest prediction is that companies are just going to be expected to spend more time training people. And because of that, I think during the interview, companies are going to have to be more flexible about what a "good" candidate looks like. And I think the world moving remote has taught everybody that you don't have to fear remote teams being effective.

The problem is ramping people is just always going to be a challenge. And I think it's companies that build strong, formal training programs and on-ramp programs, something maybe akin to Facebook's bootcamp... are going to be those companies that are most successful across the industry, because those are the companies that can draw from the largest talent base.

And I think overall we've learned... a person is going to be motivated successful and want to go their career and they'll overcome most obstacles in their way. I think it's really on us as an industry and as leaders to make it easy for more people to perform and more people to get into this industry and into great companies.

Like the ones you all work with.

Erica Lockheimer: Interviewing has obviously evolved right now and where everything went virtual. Right. So in some ways I think it's actually a positive thing, because you know, now, you know, when you had to interview before, it's like, oh, usually majority, right? Unless you're completely remote office before everything that happened. It's like, go on site and interview with all between...

Now you've just get on screen and have a casual conversation. It's a lot easier. The barrier is you know, not, not as big to actually do that. We should take advantage of that, where you can actually go through a lot of candidates. And a lot of candidates can also have a lot of opportunity to interview with a lot more companies. Right.

So I think that is actually an amazing thing. That's coming out of this.

What is it to work in a remote world if your company culture has been not remote? And so then you still want to see that candidate. You want to see him in person, but then maybe you're evolving over time.

So I think we're all figuring it out. To be honest, I went to work a couple like a week or two ago. And it was interesting because we are changing our whole work environment where we have these 360 cameras, a virtual whiteboard. And you're still... because if you allow flex time, you are always going to be in a remote world. So I think just making sure that we're aware of those differences and creating the right culture.

For that is going, is going to be keep at it, you know, getting people and, and how you're going to hire them all of it is evolving. and I think it's actually in some ways a great thing, and it's opening up more opportunities.

I think also for hiring, if you think about the, you know, with the pandemic, it hit women pretty hard, right? Because the daycares were closed. And yes, you have a lot of working parents on both sides. But it hit women continue, you know, consistently a lot more. And you saw that in a lot of the numbers.

And so if anything, now I think in some ways, when I think about when I had my first child, I was kind of contemplating, am I going to go to work or not?

How am I going to balance this out now with flex time, be able to work remote? You know that now you have more opportunity to create that balance, which I think is amazing. Amazing.

How the priorities of job seekers are changing

Patrick Gallagher: Maia also shared with us the trends that she's seeing and the changing priorities of job seekers.

Maia Josebachvili: So last fall, I was kind of taking stock of my own priorities, my life, as so many of us were, you know, towards, at least in the US towards what was one of the peaks of the pandemic and looking into the new year and what was to come.

And one of the projects I took on on a personal level was I identified 20 or so folks who were, you know, a life chapter ahead of me. So I considered that kind of 50 year olds and above. And folks that I really admired both from a career perspective, but also in, you know, where they were in their lives and the choices they had made.

And it was really fun. I had this interview, I did the same set of questions and interviewed all of them to try to see what insights I could glean that could help inform my own life decisions. And I was a bit surprised...

One of the questions I asked them was where have you gotten the most fulfillment in your life. And almost without fail everyone talked about family. And, kind of mundane moments with their family too.

Now look, I think you could probably say some of that was due to the fact that they'd been home for the last, at that point, maybe nine months because of the pandemic. But whatever it was, it was quite notable to me that all of these super accomplished individuals talked about family first. And something I've been observing over the last year probably is how some people are really shifting their priorities.

And not to say they're doing a 180, but there's a bit of rebalancing. And you just see it in the real estate data alone and how much people are kind of, you know, moving and prioritizing location over what was the place where they thought they had to be for their jobs.

So... do I think everyone is going through that? No, but, but I think it's indicative of this idea that people are really thinking about their priorities and shifting. And so how can companies react to that?

I think the first thing to realize is not everyone is going through the same journey and not everyone has the same priorities. But people do have different priorities and they are starting to value them. And so what I'm seeing is leaders in particular thinking about what are the priorities we want to really cater to? And how do we help... what behaviors we want to be driving to help create that?

How to uncover values & priorities during the interview process

Patrick Gallagher: Are there any like specific questions or how would you uncover those values or priorities?

Maia Josebachvili: What I'm thinking about uncovering values of individuals the approach I take is I just ask pretty early on actually... One of my favorite interview questions, usually in the first conversation is " What's your ideal job? What's your decision making criteria? What are you optimizing for?"

And then I write it down!

It's helpful for two reasons. One is I genuinely believe that you've got to find the right fit. If someone is looking for something that the role we have isn't going to be able to offer to them, I'm very transparent about that upfront. It's not just about finding the best person. It's about finding the best person for the job and the best job for the person. And so it doesn't help anyone if you try to like sell them into something that doesn't matter to them.

So one is just really like, filtering a question.

But two it's really helpful at the end of the process when, you know, they told you what matters to you. So then you can come back to that and you can say, "Hey, you said, this really matters. Here's this part of the job that I think will really align with this, you know, value or concept that you're trying to optimize for."

And so my favorite tactic in finding out what matters to people is just asking. People are usually pretty straight forward about that.

Patrick Gallagher: Is there something that people should be paying attention to with interviewing right now or a tactic that's made the biggest difference here.

Bret Reckard: I think the things that've made the biggest difference are honestly, just two five-minute windows. I think the first five of window is when you open up a role that you go through the trouble of actually talking with your team about the role, about the profile, about making sure everybody just agrees that the positions needed. Everybody agrees what they're going to interview for. And just finding that alignment on your own teams saves you a bunch of time down the road.

I think the second is to just really make a habit out of taking five minutes with every candidate to ask them about how they're thinking about their search, about what matters to them in their next role and what types of companies they're looking at.

And you'll find that if things are aligning and you both agree that "yes, your company is the right fit."

Then you can take those little nuggets and pass them on to the next interviewer and build excitement and build interest in your opportunity over time.

And honestly, if it doesn't seem like the right match, maybe your salary bands are way off and the person just couldn't honestly live on the amount that you're willing to pay. Being honest about it and cutting the process off early can save countless hours later on in the process.

And, and frankly, all those personalized touches and all of that knowledge is going to just make the close at the very end, all that much easier because you can really cater it to the specific person.

Maia Josebachvili: One of the things that really struck me when I got to Stripe and I am sure folks have heard about this is the emphasis on the written culture. It was one of the hardest adjustments I had to make for Stripe, but it is one of my favorite aspects about it.

Just these times aside, what I really like about it is it forces such a clarity of thought. Whereas you can, you know, put a chart on a slide deck and go talk about it...

To have to write the three sentences under that chart that really explain the point you're trying to make helps you articulate the ideas you have in your head and helps everyone also absorb them in a really effective and efficient way.

Fast forward now to more remote work, a lot more async communication... It is so helpful to have a strong writing culture. And I'm just observing companies moving in that direction. This has to me become one of the most critical capabilities I'm assessing for in our interview process.

And so I'm a big fan of the take-home assignment. It really helps you understand someone's work product and you get to kind of see them I say inaction, it's more a sync. But you get to see what they're actually doing.

More than ever, I find that written memos and seeing how people can articulate their thoughts and perspectives is becoming increasingly part of being able to be effective in this world. And so our take-home assignment for any role I'm hiring for my team is a written memo.

And they look different for different roles. For some roles, we actually have like a prompt and they do a full written assignment. For another role where I couldn't quite think about like the one project, I just asked five different questions, kind of gray area... one to see how you think about things

And ask them. I care a little bit about the answer. I care a lot about how they think about it, and I care tremendously about how they are able to convey that in the written world so that we can have a more async and effective communication culture.

Compensation predictions

Patrick Gallagher: We also asked about compensation and some of the dynamics impacting how companies are approaching their comp strategy.

Bret Reckard: The initial push to remote work had companies thinking they could really escape high salaries of tech hubs. But in a recent survey, we pushed out to our portfolio about back to work about 50% of the startups have no plans of adjusting compensation based on location, because in their thought hiring great people costs what it costs. And so they don't plan on geo adjustments.

And I really think that that's going to be a trend over long-term where there's a national salary band for people in the tech industry, certainly true for more senior people. And it's just a fact that COVID increased the number of options available to people who are in far-flung places. And with more options, naturally, the price is going to increase.

And so I think the top thing to keep in mind is really, as a company, your competition's no longer Mountain View, San Francisco, could be across the globe, could be anywhere! And people are find-able. So making sure that compensation at your company tracks these national and international trends, especially for top people is going to be key.

Erica Lockheimer: It's just very competative, right. And especially if you're hiring all in the same location and you're trying to compete for the same talent, it's just, it's just competitive.

But I think when you go to different geographies, right there's going to be, you know, compensation that matches that geography as well. So I think now where we have more flexible work or more remote work, you actually get to expand that pool to maybe where you had that talent in that location.

Before you didn't really tap that geography. Right. It just didn't seem like the talent pool was there, but now everybody's like, wow, it's like this whole, you know, new, new light of, of realization where Gosh, I can go live maybe three, four states over and I could still work at this wonderful company.

And, but then you're like, Hey, compensation is going to align to that a little bit. But whereas before maybe you never would have thought it would, would've been an option.

I know so many people that are actually moving and going and being closer to their families, even where maybe they moved away from their parents and now they're in this next phase of life where they're deciding to have children. They want to be closer. And when they never thought they had, they could do that.

And they're like, oh, I need to go, you know, maybe Silicon Valley, that's the only way that we can do, we can do this. Right. And it's like, now you can go across the state, you know, United States and see, and then across the world and in some cases as well.

So I think it's just opened up a ton of opportunity.

Bret Reckard: I think the tactic that's going to make the biggest difference for most companies is adjusting comp and honestly tracking, changing of comp very closely.

The opportunity cost of missing hire is huge. And if you can take one of those common reasons why offers are generally declined off the table... I just don't know why you wouldn't do it.

And so a logic would be great... people are going to do more to help you as a company win than an extra 10 or 40 grand or 50 grand, or maybe even a lot more than that in your company's bank account.

And so if that money isn't, isn't there helping you build a great product through hiring great people. I don't know what it's there for. And so use the fact that 80% of a company's P and L goes to paying salaries. And use the fact that those venture dollars are really around to help you employ people, build a great product and grow.

Erica Lockheimer: What I hope for is that you're going to be able to democratize more opportunity for people to get jobs.

There's such a high demand. Whereas now, now that you've had it where it's more global, you're going to have people apply for jobs that maybe they didn't before. And then people are going to be compensated and in their new role or their new function.

And then if you add the perspective of focusing on skill-based hiring where it's not just like you went to that pedigree school in that, you know, state. And that was the only way that you can get that job... now it's like it, maybe it doesn't matter where you went to school at school it's very, very important, don't get me don't, don't get me wrong, but there's other ways to assess talent and there's other ways to then get compensated for that particular job.

So if anything, I think the net is going to be casted wider and that people will have more opportunity. And that is really what it, what it's all about.

And it's not just this narrow, you know, boxes where only a certain size, a set of, you know, a society can go for after these jobs. Now it's like a lot larger net that's been cast to where there's a lot of more opportunity than not, and a lot of people, and it's great for the industry. It's great for recruiters to now be able to find those people and be able to find them all over.

Bret Reckard: As I mentioned before, I think there's going to be more of a national market for what an engineer happens to get paid. I could also foresee a world where tech hubs are still very important, but they're treated almost like a post-doc. smart student graduates. They migrate to a tech hub for three to five years to get that stamp of 'Silicon Valley approved' or 'tier one tech company' approved on the resume.

After that really being free to relocate go international work from a van with a Starlink satellites sitting on the top of it.

I think it's just going to be very different and certainly different for early career people. And I expect that to spill out through throughout people's careers. And it just to be a much more fluid environment for people to work in the future.

Final Advice on hiring in 2021

Patrick Gallagher: And to close, we asked Maia, Brett and Erica to share any final advice they had for engineering leaders entering into this emerging and shifting world of hiring and recruiting.

Bret Reckard: I think the one last insight is that you are in control !Like you are a leader, it's your team, it's your company. You have resources. You can always lobby for more. And success and successful hiring means like it has to be a team effort.

Like you pushing from the top, your recruiting team, pushing from the bottom and you really driving that thought around, removing friction, moving faster, making it easier for people on your team to recommend people that are good. And making sure that everybody has a chance to contribute to the process is just super important.

And yes, like it's a hard market, but I think you, as a leader are the person that needs to be responsible for making the environment where people are going to be spending 8 to 10 hours of their life every single day.

And, and frankly, that's one of the main topics we try to get through to every founder that we work with. You may have just raised $10 million or whatever, but in a lot of ways, raising $10 million from an investor is different. And I might even say easier than having somebody give three or four years of their working life to your company.

And so you really have to think heavily. What are you offering? What are you asking people to give up? Like, what's the environment you're creating and how are you going to help people be successful?

And all that time you put into that thinking and creating that, that team, that org for yourself is going to make a tremendous difference for hiring.

And so I think there's a lot of challenges, but the, the key message is all those things are in your control and it's on you to do it. So you have the power. Go forth and hire.

Erica Lockheimer: I would love for people more to hire for potential. Right. And so I think maybe if you look at that candidate and they didn't hit all the boxes, but they hit most of them, you know, hire for potential.

Because if I think about. And I think about anybody I've worked with, they were never qualified for the job entirely. Right. And so I think the more that we're open to, how did we learn? How did we grow? Why are we putting these other strict rules and, you know, complete, you know, requirements checklist on people when we know that didn't happen to ourselves? So I think the more that we could be honest about that and hire in a different way, that is what I'm excited about.

I try and make sure I, I question myself all the time. I questioned the people that I work with. Like, are you doing, you know, what you think you should be doing? You know, and, and, you know, get past yourself of like, Hey, this needs, we need to hire in a different way. And you actually will have people when you hire based on potential and you hire based on wanting to invest in people, guess what people stay.

And they, you know, they feel invested in, and that's why I stay at a company for as long as I have on LinkedIn, because they invest in me and I'm continually growing and want to stay here and I want to help other people grow. And then you have that pay it forward mentality and just becomes this great, attitude all around from the employees to the employer.

And that's the type of company I want to work for. And those are the type of people I want to work with! So I think if we can just look at the world a little bit differently and hire for potential that is key.

Maia Josebachvili: I'll go back to where I started with. It is hard right now, and we will never know less than we know today about how to navigate hybrid work or whether we're going fully remote. Or if folks are trying full in office.

This is all one big experiment to some extent. And so that means that we all need to be iterating and trying and sharing with each other because we only have the experiences that surround us to the extent that we can all exchange ideas and figure out what works best.

I... I'm just a perpetual optimist. And so I have to believe that the world of work will be better and stronger after this. But the path will be rocky and not linear. And so perhaps my best advice is try things, share them, and seek out other people's perspectives. And let's all build this new world together.

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