- You don’t have to worry about scheduling
- You can concentrate full-time on recruiting. Trust me, you’re going to get busy
- You’ll have more clarity when deciding
- You don’t have to keep things undercover from your existing boss
- You don’t get paid
- You have to maintain your current work responsibilities while recruiting
- You are considering staying at your current company as an option
Should I tell my current manager that I’m recruiting? This was one of the most emotionally draining decisions I’ve had to make. In a small-sized poll amongst my friends, 70% of my friends say you should wait until you have an offer to tell your manager, the other 30% thinks I should tell my manager out of respect for your manager.
How will I be able to take time off for onsites? Ideally you’ll be able to do at least 3 – 5 onsites for your next role to have a healthy number of options on the table.
However you decide to make the time to do your recruiting, it’s important to get that set aside as early as possible. Now that you have time set aside you’ll understand approximately when you’ll have a job lined up. With due diligence, you can reasonably expect something to happen within 8 weeks.
Scheduling is a bit of an art. There are two general considerations when it comes to scheduling — how much do you like the company and how long each company interview process takes.
With preference ranking, you want to backload companies you’re most interested in towards the later stages of your interviewing season. You’ll naturally get better as you start interviewing, which means you’ll be closer to peak performance right when you’re talking to companies that really interest you.
If you want to know how long the interviewing circuit takes at each company, Glassdoor has interview reviews that will give you good sense of how long the whole process takes. You want to line up all your onsites as closely together as possible, since it lines up your offers around the same time and is slightly easier logistically to handle. The coordination also helps you move fast and avoid exploding offers. My interview experience so far has been that even though Google and Facebook are great places to work (and therefore should be backloaded for some people), their interview process can sometimes take multiple weeks. Some companies didn’t even get back to me when I accepted my most recent offer.
Beggars can’t be choosers, but thankfully it’s an engineer’s market. If you don’t think you’re in a position to choose, make sure you exhaust all the resources listed in the “Recruiting Skills” section to make yourself a top-tiered candidate. You want to market yourself as best as you can.
I somewhat regret not going through this Work Values exercise when choosing my first full time job. I never realized how important certain qualities were until I spent some time reflecting on it (and some experience living out my preferences).
For a sample model and writeup of ranked values here’s the one I wrote for my previous job search. I highly suggest reading the example doc, as some of the values on there were only discovered when I talked to other peers about what they look for. I didn’t realize I had some criteria until I had polled other friends.
Another consideration you probably want to nail down in your doc is exactly what you want to learn. “Learning a lot” is not a meaningful objective as your learning goals will be entirely shaped by business needs, which often ends up in some weird, esoteric crannies. Do you want to do front-end, backend, machine learning, devops, product management, or something else entirely? If you leave those to chance, you might end up going down a career path that you’re not happy with. If you’re unsure, it’s also worth noting and trying to find jobs that resolve those questions as quickly as you can (e.g. working at startup to try many things, joining a rotational program, etc).
There are a few write-ups that evaluate opportunities based mostly on business success. I personally like this one.
Lead generation is knowing what great companies exist out there. I think the classic list to scrape is Wealthfront’s Career Launching Companies List. I think their evaluation criteria overlaps a lot with some of the values you seek in a company. It’s worth looking through all the companies, understanding what value their deliver, and what their engineering culture is like.
If you’re still in school, asking your respected peers is also a great way to find interesting companies to join. Seeing where all the 10% of graduates join is a good proxy for know which companies are sought after.
Angelist also has search criteria for you to find companies that match your interests. They’re much more focused on smaller companies and startups though.
I’ve also scraped top VC firms to see what companies they’re funding. Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB) are great places to start scouting companies.
If you’re looking for smaller companies (think <50 people), here’s my favorite technique for finding small startups to join: Go to LinkedIn, sign up for a $70/month premium membership (you’re only going to have it for a month or so), and then go to this custom search query I created. Although crude, it’s a search query that scouts out where all the smart people in the industry are working, filtering out all the trendy, big players. “Smart people” here being defined by people: 1. who attended a top tier CS school and 2. who worked a trendy company before. I found some strong candidates for startups to join by scouring the search results.
Just because I know you’re lazy and probably not going to do it, and because it’s pretty easy for me to do publicize it, here’s my lead generation spreadsheet. YOUR SITUATION IS NOT THE SAME AS MINE. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.
After you’ve generate more leads than you can handle in your schedule, you’ll need to start paring down the list. I found Glassdoor reviews to be a great site for getting a peek at company culture. If there are any red flags that stick out there, you can feel comfortable removing them from your lead generation spreadsheet.
I found most of the signal that comes from preliminary research here to be very noisy. For example, it’s very hard to evaluate engineering culture by reading a company’s website, or understand how viable their business model is without someone internal showing you the numbers. Most of the information you’ll extract will actually be from the interview, but getting a sense of the company here is important to weed out any companies that have some immediate red flags.
Finding the right channels to getting in touch with companies is a high leverage activity to maximize your chances of getting hired. Some of these channels also double as a lead generation tool too, so I would recommend jumping into some of these early.
Here are the company sources from the most to least likely to land you a job.
- Hiring Platforms/Talent Portals
- Head hunters/Recruiters
- Cold email
- Applying online
Referrals are probably your best bet to getting an interview at a company. A cold referral from someone whom you’ve met once at a party is still better than most of the other channels on the list.
You can dig up referrals in surprisingly places. Searching on your LinkedIn and finding nearby connections is a great start. Otherwise even consider getting referred to places that you’re not super interested in. Sometimes your friends can see a valuable opportunity that you’re missing.
Triplebyte deserves its own mention because of how pleasant and comprehensive I found the interview to be. Triplebyte is a hiring platform that acts as a gatekeeper to a bunch of other great companies. Triplebyte will give a comprehensive interview to you and (if you pass the interview) will be your promoter and introduce you to other companies. You skip all phone interviews onwards and go straight to the onsite. They have scheduled calls with me that asked me about what I look for in a company and matched me with companies they thought would fit my preferences.
Triplebyte is a lot harder of an interview than most company phone screens (I think the statistic is that only 15% of applicants pass), so I would suggest acquiring some practice before going on Triplebyte. However, the company matching process can take some time so I wouldn’t delay scheduling your interview too late into your interview schedule. Scheduling your Triplebyte interview approximately 2.5 – 3 weeks before your expected onsites is most ideal.
Hiring Platforms/Talent Portal
Hiring platforms like Hired or AngelList’s A-List are a great way to increase your presence in the job market. Think of these platforms as scalable ways to get your resume out there. I would do the due diligence of comprehensively filling out each profile to maximize reach.
A hidden gem is that most VC’s have talent portals too. Greylock has a talent network for both students and full time engineers. I know A16Z has one too, but requires some networking to get in touch with their recruiters. Literally search “[VC firm] talent” and try to join all the hiring platforms you can, either by applying online, reaching out to a recruiter there on LinkedIn, or attending their workshops/events.
Headhunters and recruiters who act as a middleman can be great ways to get in touch with companies. Although I will say that 50 – 70% of these recruiters are a waste of your time, I’ve worked with a select few who have been phenomenal at matching me with companies I liked.
Next time you receive a pesky email, I would suggest responding to the recruiter. My rule of thumb when dealing with recruiters is that if I ever felt like they aren’t listening to what I’m looking for, but instead pushing their clients on me, I would immediately drop them.
LinkedIn is most likely going to be your largest source of incoming interview requests. There are going to be good requests and bad requests, but the most important thing for you to do right now is to go to LinkedIn’s career interests setting page, and check that you are indeed looking for a job. This switch will signal a miniature beacon to all the recruiters that you are indeed available, and since freshly available talent generally doesn’t stay in the market too long, there will be a lot of emails.
If there’s a company you’re particularly interested in and they’re not in any of the channels above, it’s worth writing an email to a hiring manager to signal your interest. It helps to tailor your email such that it doesn’t sound like a shotgun email.
The very last resort. You should only use this option if you’ve exhausted all other options, don’t have a particularly strong interest, or don’t have enough time to write a cold email. Beware, response rates could be anywhere from 5 – 20%.
Feel free to employ more than one channel for large companies. Sometimes you’ll slip through the cracks in one channel but get picked up in another. I’ve applied to companies online and never heard back from them until I reached out to them through a different channel.