Christian Bryant (CB): Today I’m speaking with Barbara Iranzo who works with me at Hopin. She is in the Talent Acquisition and People Ops department. We’re going to be discussing how candidates can stand out when they are applying for a role. Thanks for joining Barbara!
Barbara Iranzo (BI): Thank you for the invite. To give a small introduction, I’m from Venezuela currently living in Spain, been here for about 4 years. I’ve been working as a recruiter for 6, and as a tech recruiter for the last 5 within the US and European markets.
CB: So, we both work at Hopin, and can both attest to the speed at which the company is growing and moving, and the amount of people that apply to work here. However, before I ever see an application come through for a technical screening, they all go through you first. And you’re seeing hundreds! What are things you look for on their resume when doing your initial screening?
BI: In terms of the “Dos”, one of the first things I look at is the environment in which the candidate has worked in. Is it a startup or not, is it big or small, etc. Also I look at the product they were working on itself. Does it share the same complexities as the product they’d be working on here, etc. It’s a huge plus when a candidate includes as much detail about what they were working on at their previous company because it gives me the information to make the best decision I can [to move them forward].
CB: Let’s say I meet all the technical aspects the role requires, and I’ve made it to the face to face interview with you, what are things I can do to stand out?
BI: I get really impressed when candidates are structured in the way they talk about their experiences. But let me back up to the process I usually follow - I begin interviews talking about the company (they are applying for), but I like seeing when candidates ask questions or have some input mid-way through my “speech” because it tells me they’ve done some research on the product and company. So do your research, actually look at the company website. When you ask questions, it shows that you are really interested.
Next I like the person to talk about themselves and what they’ve done. I don’t ask many specific questions, because I like to see how they communicate, and how they structure their thoughts. For example, I may ask something like “Let’s focus on the past 2-3 years, tell me about the company, the environment and workflows”, and then I may add a few specific questions. Once the person starts talking and they cover all the points I was looking for and then give more, to me that’s really impressive because it shows me they have a clear thought process before giving a response. Also tells me they are a good listener, because I just gave them a really long list of questions to answer.
CB: We’re in a peculiar time in the world with COVID-19. With many positions now forced to be remote, are there any other skills a candidate should show they have when applying for these types of roles?
BI: You need to be flexible in terms of time zones. Don’t stay within the mindset that you are going to work 8-5 or 9-6. Most remote employers have a pretty distributed team all over the globe, so you’ll need to be understanding that it might be required to get up earlier or work a little later.
You’ll also need to have a good amount of discipline. You need to have a space just for work. Don’t mix personal time with work. It’s about understanding and making that space, and be able to manage your time better.
CB: What are some examples of red flags you’ve seen through a candidates application process?
BI: This will sound obvious, but basically people will apply with a blank CV. Probably by accident, but I can’t do anything with it. Make sure to double check the documents you are uploading. It’s more common than you think.
Next, the cover letter - It’s more to understand your motivation, not if you are fit for the job. The CV speaks for itself. Don’t highlight how amazing you are, just keep it brief and tell why you are interested in the company.
CB: I think just having written communication skills here is important as well
BI: And being able to be concise. Talk straight to the point of what you need. Some companies are actually requiring tests on Slack to see your writing skills.
One other thing about the CV, I often see a lot of extra “design” effort. For developers, keep it simple, clear, and normal format. Don’t make it look too complicated, because it can be hard to read. Don’t stand out in the wrong way.
Also once again, make sure you add technologies you’ve worked with under each job experience, and how many people used it, the scale, etc.
1. Include as much detail about what you did in your previous roles. Highlight your accomplishments and your area of expertise.
2. Practice how you are going to talk about yourself to the recruiter. It’s good to have a structured, well thought out timeline you can articulate.
3. Practice your written communication skills
4. Do you research on the company you are applying for and ask tons of questions.
5. With remote work on the rise, make sure you can be flexible with timezones and can be a disciplined worker.
6. Double check files you upload (make sure they aren’t blank or corrupted).
7. Developers don’t need a fancy designed resume. Keep it simple, clear, and to the point.