Silicon Valley bucks current hiring, unemployment trends (panel)

Talent managers from some of Silicon Valley's largest companies are looking to hire applicants -- particularly in engineering, product, sales and marketing.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're looking for a job, the tech world would be a good place to look right now, based on a panel discussion presented by Girls in Tech, focusing on hiring and finding the "perfect startup job."

"The two industries growing the fastest in the U.S. right now are technology and healthcare," said Rick Marini, founder and CEO of BranchOut, which is touted as the largest professional network on Facebook. "Silicon Valley is that bubble. It’s different from the rest of the country."

Marini cited engineering and sales as two areas where tech is hiring specifically, as when you start a company, engineers are need to scale a website, and the salespeople go and get the revenue.

Sarah Wagener, an executive staffing manager at Facebook, added while most of her concentration is on hiring for sales and technical divisions, she's also keeping an eye out across the entire business.

"In the tech space, at least in my experience thus far, there is a need to hire," said Wagener. "It’s not so much there are the positions available, but what are the skills available in the workforce.”

So just because the technology industry is actively hiring, that doesn't mean it's going to be remarkably easy to get a job.

For smaller yet even well-known startups, the need to standout is imperative. Morgan Missen, head of talent at Foursquare, noted that the location-based app maker has approximately 70 to 80 employees right now, so the person it hires has to be "the best person for that job because they will be the only one doing that job."

Missen also pointed out that Silicon Valley is particularly competitive because California does not enforce a non-competitive agreement, so you see small to major companies vying for the same candidates.

College graduates tend to be the most creative applicants, according to James Takazawa, vice president of human relations, or “people operations,” at Tagged, a San Francisco-based social network designed for meeting new people. Takazawa offered the example of one applicant who went so far as to choreograph a dance on why he should work for Deloitte.

Although said applicant didn't get the job in the end as Takazawa reminded the audience that "substance does trump everything," he pointed out that "it does help you get in the door."

College, in general, is often a very competitive space for tech hiring managers, Wagener argued.

"You're building your pipeline," Wagener explained, "A lot of the early pipeline comes from the university system."

Marini discussed another example of a current employee who declared during the interview that she was starting the following day and would work five days for free. If she didn't add value to the company within the following five days, the applicant said she would leave.

"In three days, I gave her a full-time offer," Marini said.

Some of the tips the panel offered to applicants looking for jobs in technology:

  • Don't traditionally apply: The resume isn't dead yet, but don't settle for just submitting a resume to a job site.
  • When you do submit resumes, use PDFs -- not Word documents.
  • Apply for something you want to do and that you love.
  • Be authentic during the interview process.
  • Thank you notes -- even snail mail -- don’t hurt either, but don’t expect it to set you apart. (But Takazawa acknowledged that “the email after speaks volumes.”)
  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the qualifications right now.
  • Use every possible social networking connection to find people who are employed at the companies where you want to work.

“The best way to get a great job at a top company is to be a referral,” Missen advised, adding that “the new cover letter is really the introductory email that a referral would send to the hiring manager at that company.

Although the advice offered during the panel discussion is applicable to everyone, Wagener offered advice specifically for female applicants.

"Sometimes women don’t feel as comfortable asking what it is that they want," Wagener posited. “Go after it and ask for what you want, and figure out a creative way to get what you want.”


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