Name Dropping is a Q&A series that aims to elevate the stories of women and nonbinary people leading in the tech space. The idea came from Angela DeFranco, a VP of Product at HubSpot, who said one way to be better allies is to name drop more women and nonbinary people in discussions of achievement, inspiration, and disruptors in tech, instead of referencing, time and again, the same set of (often male) leaders.
What are the top priorities your team is working on today? What challenges are you solving?
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DI&B) is our number one talent priority at LinkedIn, and it certainly is for us too in Product Recruiting. It’s super important for us to recruit talent that reflects the diversity of our member population, as the people we hire are designing and building the products our customers and members use every day. Therefore, for our products to be inclusive for our over 660 million members, it’s vital that the talent we hire can reflect, represent, and have empathy for the experiences different groups have across the globe on our platform. While this can be seen as a ‘challenge’ to solve, it presents a huge opportunity to help LinkedIn realize its vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Never before has the intersection of talent and business strategy been more integral to how companies respond to and rebound from COVID-19. What underpins the future of work is empathy and the experience we create for our members, customers, candidates, and employees.
Can you talk to us about how remote work is changing your recruiting approach at LinkedIn, if at all?
When LinkedIn moved to a work from home model globally, we made the move to a virtual interviewing and hiring process overnight! While we were already using video technology to conduct many of our interviews, we had to pivot fast, and to the credit of our recruiting teams and hiring managers, we were able to do so relatively seamlessly. Once that was done, we needed to think through ‘how do we create a world class candidate experience that’s 100% virtual’? We’ve replaced in-person office and campus tours with video tours and have partnered closely with our Learning and Development and IT teams to help ensure a positive onboarding experience. There were a few bumps at first, but it’s been amazing to see so many teams pull together quickly to come up with creative ways of making things work in a remote world.
Given most tech companies in the Valley (and globally) will continue to allow employees to work from home for the medium and even long term, this creates such an amazing opportunity to rethink our hiring and talent strategy, which I believe could have a very positive impact on DI&B. I predict we will start to be more open to hiring talent where they are, rather than having them relocate to the Bay Area or another location. I’m excited about the convergence of workforce planning, DI&B, and real estate, and how together these groups can reimagine the workplace and workforce of the future, which I hope will be more inclusive and hyper-focused on employee experience.
Let’s go back in time a bit: how did you first get into the tech recruiting field?
I’ve been with LinkedIn for over five years now. Prior to that I was a recruiting leader in the pharmaceutical industry. I was living and working in Shanghai and one day received an InMail from LinkedIn. Fast forward to me moving to Singapore to join LinkedIn! I spent three years there leading recruiting teams in Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Hong Kong, and China and then two years ago I relocated to San Francisco to lead our Product Recruiting team. It’s been an incredible ride professionally and personally, and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities.
When you think about the best product recruiters you’ve ever worked with, what characteristics did they embody?
Without a doubt, curiosity! Being curious about someone’s motivators and the products they’ve built is critical when interviewing candidates. They also need to stay curious about their own company’s product roadmap to help identify talent that could help design, build, and launch the products of the future. The other important characteristic is being insights-driven. We talk a lot about the importance of data-driven recruiting, but being able to take that one step forward is key. Data only becomes an insight when it comes with a recommendation, and the best recruiters I’ve worked with actively work on their confidence and communication skills to make those recommendations. Being able to tell a compelling story with data to a leader to help inform a decision or role pivot and also being able to tell a captivating company story to a candidate are recruiter life skills!
When you’re recruiting for a product team, what makes a candidate stand out outside of a traditional resume/experience?
We recently launched a new approach to hiring at LinkedIn designed to shine a light on candidates’ skills, not their resumes. We removed basic requirements for a particular role and added in an optional learning path and skills assessments to the hiring process to enable candidates to both learn and demonstrate that they have the skills to do the job at Linkedin, when they may not have ‘the traditional experience.’
Working in tech and at LinkedIn has highlighted to me that the network gap is real — meaning knowing people working at companies who can refer you or can facilitate introductions is a huge advantage and therefore an acute disadvantage for those who don’t have these connections. The other is the opportunity gap. By that I mean having the opportunity to interview for a role when you don’t meet the basic requirements based on previous experience or education, but you do have transferable skills and with access to learning or re-skilling, you could in fact do the job. At LinkedIn we are actively working on closing both these gaps.
Learning agility, diversity of thought and background, and a unique perspective to add to a company’s culture are all areas that I look for outside of a traditional resume, because companies will not be able to evolve and become truly inclusive, diverse places to work if we continue to just focus on assessing the tried and true.
What advice do you have for women and nonbinary people pursuing careers in tech?
It might not seem from the outside that there are people who look like you working in tech, but there are! It’s also possible to not come from tech and have a great career working in the industry. I didn’t come from tech before joining LinkedIn! Creativity, problem solving, collaboration, design thinking, systems thinking, and grit are all needed skills and attributes for working in tech and they are transferable. The brilliant Carla Harris says that we should focus on the content of the job and the skills that we will learn, not the job title. So for women and nonbinary people pursuing careers in tech, I think it’s so important to look for managers who will invest in you and to surround yourself with people from whom you can learn and who will be advocates for you. We need people who will speak on our behalf when we aren't in the room, but we also have to use our own voice, too! It's important to speak up and be allies for one another.
Who’s one woman or nonbinary person in tech you’d like to name drop and why?
Renee Reid is a Senior UX Design Researcher at LinkedIn with such magnetic energy you can’t help but smile and be inspired in her presence. I always love our conversations. Renee is a leader in her field of Human-Centered User Experience Research, is a mentor to many, and if you get the opportunity to hear her speak on a panel or present at a conference, you are always enthralled. Renee is a huge advocate of and activist for representation change in the tech industry and is a legit force of nature whom I’m lucky to work with at LinkedIn!
What advice would you have for your 22-year-old self?
It's all not going to go to plan, but it is all going to be ok. Stop comparing yourself to others and basing your definition of success on relationship status or job title. Your time will come and while you might not have all the things you thought you wanted by the time you felt like you should have them, the adventure ahead is better than you ever imagined. Don't worry, what's for you will come your way.
What’s been your favorite recipe or takeout place while quarantining?
Like the rest of the world, it would seem, I have tried to perfect banana bread and decided adding chocolate chips is a must. I have also got my lasagna-making game down pat. Clearly diet hasn’t been a huge priority during quarantine!
Know another woman whose name we should drop? Tweet us at @HubSpotDev with ideas.
This article originally appeared on Medium.