Chris Garinger is the #1 recommended recruiter on LinkedIn and has recruited for 9 leading companies including Apple, Tesla, Salesforce, and Binti, to name a few.
Here are some questions we will be answering:
– What is the process of how recruiters and hiring managers decide on candidates?
– Is it easier to get a job in a less-popular company location?
– Do online skill courses matter for recruiting?
– Biggest takeaway after recruiting for over 9 companies?
– How to reinvent yourself in a virtual environment?
Connect with Chris: www.linkedin.com/in/cgaringer/
Follow our Host on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-aj-eckstein/
Get 1-on-1 Career Coaching: www.careercoachingcompany.com/
*Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this podcast are of the host and guest and not of their employers.
“If I have two people at the finish line, who am I going to choose? I’m going to choose that student who has gone above and beyond to show me why they should get that internship.” – Chris Garinger
Welcome to the Final Round podcast, where our mission is to help you knock out the competition and land your dream job. My name is A.J. Eckstein, and I’m a recent college graduate, a strategy consultant, a five-time intern and the founder of the Career Coaching Company.
Have you ever wondered why only a few people get past the final round interview and land the job offer? Join me in the ring as I speak with recruiters at top companies to learn the secrets why certain applicants get “knocked-out” and others are still standing after the final round.
The Final Round podcast is brought to you by Career Coaching Company. They offer one-on-one, live, tailored coaching from recent grads who work at leading companies across multiple industries like consulting, investment banking and much more. Now, let’s jump into the ring and get you past the final round.
Today, we will be interviewing the number one recommended recruiter on LinkedIn with over 330 recommendations and almost 40,000 LinkedIn followers. Chris Garinger has recruited for just about every leading company in the world, including Apple Tesla, Salesforce and Binti to name a few. It is safe to say that Chris recruits top talent 24/7, 365. Now, let’s get you on Chris’s talent radar and welcome Chris into the ring. Well, hello everyone! We have such a special guest on the show today. We have Chris Garinger. Welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris: Yeah, thanks so much. I appreciate it.
I think, Chris, you are seriously one of the most unique recruiters that we have had on the podcast as of today because you have recruited for over nine companies. And some of those companies include Salesforce, Apple and Tesla. Can you just briefly talk about your experience recruiting for all of these companies, maybe some of the key takeaways?
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a fun journey, for sure. Had the opportunity to work for those companies. And you know, for me, AJ it started going back maybe a little over 10 years ago when I was recruiting. I wasn’t in tech yet, really helping in terms and kind of a university space and just honestly kind of put myself out there and got lucky. And then from there, I really just kind of fell in love with tech and what I saw back then was predominantly computer science, mechanical engineering. But then you start to see this growth across like let’s say UI/UX or Ops and all these other areas of business and I really sort of take that opportunity as well to diversify my toolkit.
So, meaning like I found opportunities where okay for example I can go to Samsung and I can work on more backend ops, post-sale, some engineering on that front or then take like for example going to Apple where I can be on the frontend of software with for example, Fury or iTunes engineering. And so, when I started looking at my recruiting career, I wanted to diversify myself as much as possible in different areas of the overall business so that I could be the most marketable as possible and so that people would look at me and say, “Oh, okay. Yes, this guy has recruited in this space, in this space, in this space.” So much so that I can either jump right back into one of those verticals or I could take the approach where for example, I am now where I’m at a startup and I have even more responsibility and I’m touching on multiple different particles within the organization. So, I’m sure we’ll get into networking kind of talking about that stuff later.
But I’ve also always just really been good about keeping my relationships, not burning bridges so much so that when you look at the different jobs as I go from one company to the next, the majority of the time AJ that somebody who’s just tapping me on the shoulder when I’m not looking, but I’ve worked with them. I’ve showcased my ability. They’ve gone on somewhere else and said, “Hey! Hi, Chris. I was working with him and I’d really love to talk to him.” So that’s kind of another piece as well that I’ve always kind of kept in the back of my mind is building those relationships because you just never know where those are going to land for you.
Well, there’s so much to unpack there and I guess where I think we can go a little bit deeper is really understanding within these different roles. Do you think especially early on in your career, do you think it’s good to have a wide variety of skill sets and a wide variety of interests and experiences or do you try to figure out what you want to almost specialize in and go super deep? So, like an example would be a technical recruiter for frontend and go super deep into that versus just being a broad recruiter. What are your thoughts on that?
Chris: Yeah, it’s a really great question. I don’t know that there is a finite answer to that because it kind of depends on you as an individual. For me, when I look at this type of question, I want to broaden my skill set. So, I want to spend a little bit of time in this particular vertical. I want to spend a little bit of time in this particular vertical so that I could essentially be somewhat of an expert to a certain degree in anything. So, for example, like in my world, if I’m going to partner with a new manager, I want them to look at me as that expert in recruiting and I can say that and I can come to the table with that confidence because I have spent on these other verticals.
Now, flipping that coin over, as an example when I was at Tesla, one of the groups that I recruited for is materials engineering. When you’re in that kind of space, that’s the kind of space where traditionally you need to specialize and you need to go as deep as possible within that greater area. So, to drill down a little bit more, let’s say you’re in materials and you’re working on polymers. My recommendation to you is if you are that student or that person is to go as deep as possible in polymers within materials engineering so that you can become that expert in that. So, I know that’s a little contradictory. I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, but it really does depend on the individual and what your long-term goals are. One more thing, I see a lot of CS students because I’ve recruited them quite a bit over my career. I love to see those students as well. Like maybe dabbling in a little bit of frontend work if you’re not that strong in it, right?
Go build yourself a portfolio or go teach yourself how to code and be a good frontend engineer. And the reason is because you never know when you’re going to be in a position and your manager or another manager or whomever it is says, “Hey, we really need somebody that can do that.” And even if you just have a little bit of experience in that, the likelihood that you’re going to get tapped on the shoulder and then when you can showcase your abilities on top of your other abilities, man, it just really sets you apart from everyone else that is within that group or that team or even just giving you visibility that you would not otherwise get.
Advancing Past the Final Round Interview
So, on the same thread, if you’re recruiting for a certain position and you have two candidates, one candidate had that experience that you’re looking for what they’d be doing. They did that for three internships versus the other candidate is still in the let’s say, engineering realm, but had some frontend, some backend and maybe focus on computer science, let’s say, what kind of candidate would you say would be pushed to the final round or advancing past the final round and what are you looking for?
Chris: Yeah, that’s a good one. I think that likely what’s probably going to happen is if it’s really a pure kind of like CS type role, they’re probably going to go with the individual that had multiple internships in that space. That’s not every company. But especially when you look at these bigger companies, let’s take a Sales Force, for example, they tend to want somebody who has as much experience as possible in that vertical. So, there’s kind of this balance and this is where I feel like I’ve had advantages. I’ve worked at startups and I’ve worked at large companies.
So, I kind of talk in these two different kinds of faces. And so again, for the large company, AJ, you’re probably going to get that person that’s done those three internships instead of spacing themselves out. But on the flip side, if you’re somebody that is really interested in going the startup world, it’s going to give you a lot more leverage going into the final interview if you can speak to the fact, “Hey, I’ve done this and I’ve done a little bit of this and I’ve done a little bit of this.” And when you’re a student, you don’t have all the answers and you might not know what you want to do at the end of this road. So, it’s kind of dependent on where you are as an individual and where you want to go. But kind of coming back to your question, I think the person that has those three internships in that same kind of space, so to speak, is probably going to be the one ultimately to land that job.
Interning at a Startup
And as much as those three internships in that exact field of what you’re trying to do, it sounds ideal, but oftentimes, especially early on for college students, those freshmen and sophomores, it’s hard to be eligible for a lot of the big Tesla’s or the Salesforce internships. So, you have to find something for the summer or even during the year. What are your thoughts on interning at a startup where you would wear many hats and you’re probably given more responsibility than working at Tesla, for instance, is that something that you look for? Is that a good idea for those earlier on parts of your career?
Chris: I think so, yes! I think that’s a great idea. One, a startup is going to be able to take a little more risk generally on you as an intern. And to your point leading up to that question, you’re going to have a multitude of different opportunities to touch different products or touch different processes. And I believe that it will make you more marketable down the road. One of the places you’re probably going to look at startups because they’re going to be able to give you a little bit more experience. They’re not going to have these specific standards, right?
Because when you look at these big organizations, they say, “Well you’ve got to have this and this and this to even qualify,” kind of circling back to your point, a freshman and sophomore is likely not going to have that whereas a startup, for example, they’re not going to have all those barriers of entry and honestly, they may not be having people knocking down the doors trying to go work for them because they’re not known, right? So, if you’re the type of person who is able to go knock on that door, showcase yourself, I think that would bring a ton of value for you, not only right then, but kind of your point further down the road when you’re looking for another internship.
And I love how you brought up the theme of barriers to entry, right? Because when you think of the Tesla, the Samsung’s, the Salesforce’s of the world, there’s so many people applying that it’s really hard to get in and you need to have, let’s say a 3.5 GPA, you have to have interned, you have to have XYZ, go to a top school, etc. versus the startups, they have much less demand, but you can be a lot more creative with your outreach and you can literally flat out email the CEO of the startup versus emailing the Salesforce CEO, which is probably not going to get a response.
And I think that if you’re creative and you show that you’re passionate about the mission of the startup, even if you have zero skills, but you’re just eager to learn, I think that is a great way to get your foot in the door. I want to get your take on unpaid internships, especially for startups, let’s say that you have zero work experience, you’re early on in your career and you have an opportunity to work unpaid at a startup. What are your thoughts on unpaid internships?
Chris: Yeah. So, I will first say this, AJ, if you can financially do that, great! Keep that as an option on the table for you. The second thing, I genuinely believe that every company should pay for work at some level, right? I know that’s not the reality and I know there are unpaid internships. I believe if that is the way that you want to go and you have an offer on the table for an unpaid internship and again, you can financially support that time off in that work. I think it’s a great option again, because you’re going to be thrown into the mix and you’re going to learn a bunch of different skills and you’re going to experience. Generally speaking, you’re going to experience a breakneck speed that you will never experience at, let’s say at Salesforce or Microsoft, right?
And I’m not saying anything wrong with that and those opportunities, but I can tell you from my experiences at startups and why I like them quite honestly is because of the breakneck speed. You just go and you get the work done. If you were an intern coming back to your question, taking an unpaid internship, absolutely! I think you jump on that. Of course, I would also advise you to try to get some money out of it, if at all possible as a student. But again, the value there is unlike anything else that you’re going to be able to get.
I think the hardest thing is coming in with very little skills at first, right? Because you have to build your skills as you go on and try to offer very little skills and then try to get paid for it. But if you think about it, it’s almost just like a way to get mentored and you can use it as a stepping stone. In one of my first internships, I worked at a startup unpaid and I used that and I used the recommendations and the referrals and the skills that I learned in this internship to get to my paid sophomore summer internship. They got to my junior summer, they got to my full-time job. So, I think it’s a stepping stone. If the company can pay and if you can get some money out of it, great!
But if not and you look at it as a stepping stone and a way to get free mentorship basically and someone’s going to coach you especially if you can get a venture backed startup so I always say a good trick is going to Y Combinator or Techstars or go to a VCs website, a venture capital’s website, look at their portfolio companies and just reach out to the CEOs and there, you’re going to get some great exposure to what is it like working at a venture backed startup. But they’re stepping stones, right? Everyone wants to work with Google and Tesla but if you don’t have any experience, you have to build it somehow. So, I totally agree with what you’re saying that even though it’s not ideal at times, if you can afford it financially, then I think it’s a great way to get mentored.
Going back to you for a second, you’ve worked at over nine companies as a recruiter and currently you are a senior technical recruiter at Binti. I would love it if you could share why you left your last company, Salesforce to now work at this very mission driven company, Binti.
Chris: Yeah, great question! Before I answer that though, I think there’s a good point I want to add to the last topic really quickly to your listeners that I think is highly valuable. So, you as an individual are stepping into that unpaid internship, when you make that connection there to your point with that CEO and you’re working for that startup. Generally, that CEO their network is 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 different CEOs. So, the value you’re going to get in a potential connection later, you’re never going to get elsewhere. I just want to make it because I think it’s a very important point for your listeners if they’re considering an unpaid internship at a startup to think about that as well, that long term connection.
So, coming back to your question and why I left Salesforce and joined Binti. As I was mentioning earlier, a big part of leaving a job is I’ve never been looking and somebody’s tapped me on the shoulder. So, I try to keep relationships forever. And basically, the way it happened was somebody who I have had a LinkedIn relationship with essentially for years, she had reached out to me multiple times about opportunities over the years and I say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” for this is the right thing. And she reached out to me, I had a great team. I had a great manager, had a great job at Salesforce, but when she reached out, I didn’t know who Binti was and so I was like, “Let me take a look at this.” I started to read more about the company and I started reading more about the mission and they’re really looking to provide equal opportunity for everyone in the world and really starting in this foster care space, child welfare space. I have two young daughters. I have been on the frontend of the adoption process myself a couple of times and just due to moving states and even countries that got put on the backburner. So, there was a personal connection for me in regards to what they’re trying to do.
That was a huge, huge thing for me, that mission driven idea and the values that come in line with that just really spoke to me personally. The other thing too, AJ is I was really evaluating where I wanted to go for the next 10 years. And when I think back on the previous 10 years where I felt like I had the most impact, I had the most success, personal joy was in the startup space. And kind of going back to my comment earlier, just being able to not have a ton of barriers of entry, not a lot of bureaucracy, very flat, right? You can generally walk next door to the CEO or hit him on Slack and they’re going to respond immediately, that suits me very well. And it was difficult to step away from the relationships I’ve built at Salesforce and step away from that case of security because going to a startup is a risk, but it just felt right and you probably know this and most people do right. You just get in situations where it just feels right.
Well, it sounds like it was a very personal choice. You followed your gut and it’s a mission driven startup. So, it’s great to see that you made that pivot and that you’re not just working from 9:00 to 5:00, but you’re actually passionate about the companies. I think that is really everything. And I think one of the most astonishing things about your career is that you said that you keep getting tapped on the shoulder, you’re not actively outreaching and applying to companies, but people are reaching out to you. Can you kind of unpack that and explain how you’re able to build this network? I know you have thousands of followers on LinkedIn, but how do you build these relationships? How do you maintain them? And how do you have people reach out to you for jobs versus the other way?
Chris: Great question. I think this can speak to people that are students or even further down. But the first thing I try to do when I join an organization is get to know as many people as possible. And you go into a large company with some recruiting organizations that are huge and some that are much smaller, but it doesn’t matter. I’m trying to go in and meet with everyone. One of my personal goals that I’ve done, especially in larger organizations where you might not have that quick ability, is always setting up coffee chats or, if you’re on Slack, setting up doughnuts, right? Even if it’s 15 minutes, just get to know people. Salesforce, for example, is really good at this after they acquired Slack and I would get in conversations with people in the U.K, for example, but what I did was I made all the connections, so they knew who I was, they knew my name.
The next thing I did was the actual work, nothing else can be better than actually producing. And so, in my job I did my best to absolutely produce or overachieve in that production not only personally to showcase my abilities, but to also show those people that I worked with that I am good at my job and I’m somebody that you can trust, you can rely on and also somebody that can pick up the slack if you need help, really kind of getting in the trenches with that. Another thing that I did was you naturally find those people that you kind of gravitate towards, or those managers that you kind of gravitate towards and double down on those relationships.
Go, have a coffee, go and have lunch with them, take time to really foster those relationships really deep, but then it doesn’t stop there. Like you have to hold on to those, here’s a prime example. So, I was at Apple, and had a wonderful partner. He and I became really tight friends and we would go to meetings together and we would even go out, grab a drink together, these kinds of things. And even after I left and I moved back and I went to Austin, every time I went to the Bay Area and hit him up like, “Hey, you want to get together?” And we just kept that relationship going and it’s not a constant relationship. I may not talk to the person for a month or two months, but then it’s like, oh, something triggers and I reach out. So, it’s a slow drip.
So, I stayed in touch with him and the story goes that he called me up and said, “Hey, I finally left Apple. I went to Tesla. I’d love for you to come out here and join the team.” So, then I did and I interviewed and it all worked out and so that’s one actual concrete example of how to do it and continue those relationships. Because you can’t do that with everybody, right? You’re not going to phone everybody up. You’re not going to go see them when you’re in town, that kind of thing. The other thing that you can do is you can set reminders on your calendar. So, I used to be really good about this, especially back in the day actually writing cards, which I should probably get back to that. But every Friday, I would write or I would reach out to somebody in my network and I diversified it.
Send him an email, send him a LinkedIn message, write him a card, put it in the mail, send it to him. These little things that take you five minutes to do, just continue to build relationships. And then lastly, when a recruiter reaches out to you or somebody reaches out to you, just be kind and empathetic even if you’re not looking. And if you can kind of tell not 100% him, there’s actually continuing research that was done to reach out to people and just be kind and say, “Hey, thanks. But no thanks. Here is what I’m looking for. If you find something like that, reach out to me. And also, here’s my personal email address.” It takes you no time at all. I know that some people don’t want to give out their personal email address and that’s okay if you don’t.
I’ve never been that way. I gave out my cell phone number. I give out my email address, but just be polite and keep that connection because you never know what can happen. So, those are kind of three takeaways there and how I’ve been able to continue to have this shoulder path for new opportunities.
I think there are so many great points in there and I think a common misconception is that you network to get a job and that’s it. But the irony is that the real networking starts once you’re inside the company, especially if you’re working for a large company and there are tens of thousands of employees. I mean, the opportunities are endless to meet people and to have them connect you with their network, but it’s not just building the connections, it’s maintaining them and like you said sending them a ping or sending them a Slack or a LinkedIn message or maybe you read an article that you guys are both talking about how Salesforce acquired Slack recently and you saw that there was a new number and the stock price, whatever it was and you send that to the person you were talking about and saying, ‘Oh, I thought about you.’
It’s just keeping them in the loop versus making a connection, waiting 10 years and then reaching back out and saying, “Hey, Chris, are you still hiring?” Because that’s not organic. So, I think it’s building the network, maintaining the network and also never stopping because it should be something organic that you want to do and setting those reminders. In a normal setting, what I do is I set weekly goals of trying to network with new people not because I need anything, not because I want to go anywhere. I’m happy where I’m at, but who knows where the future holds?
I think these are such good points with networking. But I think the hardest part about networking today because you’re mentioning grabbing a coffee with people is that oftentimes it’s virtual. So, what are some best practices with having virtual coffee chats or just networking virtually when you can’t do it in person right now?
Chris: Great point! For me, it’s not about reaching out because you need something, right, to your point. It’s about reaching out to make that connection because you never know where that connection is going to lead you. So, my recommendation is first and foremost, take that approach and then let them know why you’re connecting like, “AJ, I saw you have this cool podcast. I’m kind of in the same space and maybe we could collaborate on something someday,” spark that interest, ” or “Hey, I saw that you’re working at this company and this particular organization, I have some interest in that. Would you mind like five or 10 minutes?
I just have a couple of pressing questions that would just kind of help me understand that little bit. Nine times out of ten, they’re going to say sure because most people are pretty kind. Have that agenda or have that precursor to why that person should even respond to you. If you send me the connection request with a small little message in there, you know, “Hey Chris, I saw you’re doing XYZ. I would love to have you on my podcast.” Okay, cool. I’m going to get back to you. The other thing too is follow-up with those people. I think a lot of times we passed that hook out there and then that’s it. We reel it in whatever catches, catches and then we’re done and we pack it up for the day. Set that reminder, especially that somebody you really want to connect with. Set that reminder, “Hey, I’ll reach out to them again in a month if they haven’t responded,” or whatever you’re trying to get out of it.
But I think again practice while you’re reaching out. Before you’re going to get on with them, make sure they know what you want to talk about. Try to be respectful of the time as well. I think if you start with those smaller chunks, 5, 10 minutes. We’re always trying to get to the yes. That’s what we’re all trying to get to. Well, yes is really easy for me when it’s five minutes, yes is a little more difficult when you want an hour. So, those are a couple things that come to mind.
Well, there are so many good practices in there and if we can just talk about them for a second. So, very similar to you and you probably get thousands more connection requests than me, especially asking for time. We’re all busy people. For our audience right now, we are recording this on a Saturday, right? Thank you very much for taking the time out of your Saturday to get into my podcast. But I think the biggest thing when people reach out is you’re looking at the effort that they put into that outreach message. And if it’s a blanket template, like, “Hey, saw you work at Binti. I would love a few minutes of your time.” It’s just not tailored; it sounds like a template. You didn’t even say, “Hi Chris!” Right? It’s not tailored.
So, I get tons of those and I’ll always, like you said, respond respectfully and say I’m too busy because everyone’s busy. But the few that come in that showed that they took the time, that showed that they did the research, that are asking questions that no one else has asked and are picking things from your LinkedIn that you have to dig and you know exactly where they are in your LinkedIn, right? I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, people who have a magnifying glass and a fine-tooth comb are actually able to find versus just your headline. And then you want to reward those people because as you say they took 10-15 minutes out of their day to send me this beautiful outreach message, I want to return the favor. I even had a conversation recently with this one woman from Indonesia and I told her I want to prove to you that sending a very tailored outreach message really pays dividends because there are so many people out there that think of it as a numbers game and they just do rapid fire connection requests.
And if they add a note, it’s a template. So, I think a big thing, especially for me, when I choose, is to give this person a few minutes of my weekend to chat with them versus not is how much effort and time they put into that outreach message. And then also, I think another big thing is you have to be specific with your task, right? What is the call to action? I really hate when people just say, “Hey, could I get some career advice?” I totally get it. I’m in the career space and Chris, you’re obviously the career space, but I can’t help you unless you’re more tailored like what do you actually want? So, I’ll respond and say I can talk for hours about career advice, but what specifically? And then they respond and say, “I need XYZ.” But it’s a waste of time to go back and forth so I think for all of our listeners, be specific with your question, right? Are you asking Chris to answer a question over a LinkedIn message? Are you asking him to just schedule a coffee chat? Is it virtual and is it in person? And I think those are some best practices.
The last thing I hate when this happens, is when people don’t say thank you. And it’s the smallest note, but if I took 30 minutes of my time on the weekend to speak to someone and I just laid out my heart on a plate and I feel like I give him so much good advice and then you just never hear from them again, like you said, they never follow up, they never say thank you and that’s it. It’s almost like you feel like it was a waste of time. So, sending a thank you email that’s tailored, a follow up email and then actually continuing the relationship long term are such critical pieces. So, I really appreciate you bringing that up.
Chris: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. I always say, AJ, “Don’t give me a task.” If I’m reaching out to you to make that connection, I don’t want to give you a task. That’s not what it’s about, right? I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for you to say yes.
So being specific. Do as much work on your own to help the person that you’re out reaching to have the least amount of work and then they’re likely to say yes.
Let’s step out of the ring and talk about Career Coaching Companies. With all the valuable advice that you just heard from our wonderful guest, let’s take action on that advice with one-on-one live, tailored coaching from recent grads who now work at the same companies that you’re applying to. Schedule your free strategy call today by going to careercoachingcompany.com. Now, back to the ring.
And shifting gears for a second, I think another unique thing about you on top of working out over and recruiting from nine companies is that you’ve recruited in different areas even outside the U. S. Right? I saw that you recruited in Texas and British Columbia, in California and I think this diversity, the location allows you to see very different candidates. I remember when I was applying for opportunities, either internships or jobs, oftentimes they allow candidates to rank their preferences of location. I’m curious to know, does it really make a difference if you prefer the location that likely will have more demand like a New York, a Los Angeles, a San Francisco versus a smaller city where people aren’t looking. Is that a good strategy if you want to get your foot in the door to go to a location that’s not as high in demand?
Chris: I would say, generally, AJ, yes. If you are open to going to a smaller market or going to an area where that demand is not as high. Absolutely, the chances of you getting that position are much higher. Take a prime example. We had an office that was about 45 minutes outside of a major hub. As a student, that’s not ideal when you think about it, if you want to be in the city. But when I would have people that would reach out to me again, talking about the lead and say, “Hey, I really want an opportunity in that city.” Oh man, I’m all over as your recruiter. So, now I know you have a kind of buy into the area and potentially you’re going to want to stay there afterwards. There’s something going on and it gives me the desire to find out what it is.
So, yes, I do think that if you’re open to it early in your internship, there’s something to be said about being in that major home. So, as an example, the first time I moved to California, I was shocked at the amount of tech companies there. I was shocked at the amount of coffee shops I go to. And then you look over, you hear a conversation with some people trying to create a startup right there. It happened to me then, like the second time I came back to California, an old manager from my previous company tapped me on the shoulder like, “Hey, I have this startup idea.” Those kinds of things, they do happen right outside of these major hubs like the Bay Area or New York or L. A. or even Austin potentially. So, it also depends on what you’re looking for.
Are you really sold on, “I’m going to go there to network.” Or are you sold on, “I’m trying to find the best job possible?” And what’s going to help me to get that job? Again, if you’re open to the other areas, I absolutely think that that’s a great thing to put on the plate and you could even talk to a recruiter for example, like if they’re going to give you, let’s say three different location choices, you just have an open conversation with like, “Hey, listen, I would love to be in the Bay Area, but you know, I am totally open to being in this other location,” and that’s going to let them know like, ‘Okay. Well, if I go to that meeting where we’re stack ranking people in what location, well you know what AJ told me that he’ll also take that opportunity in the Midwest. So, instead of just strikethrough.
Now, I can move him over here so then it’s a win, win, win. You get the internship you’re looking for, I as a recruiter will get my win, and the business who might struggle to find somebody in that location also gets to win. So, I know I kind of went on a little bit more of my answer but I think it’s important for people to think about as they get into that exact situation on what location that they may consider or put as a preference.
I think you just said something that was super interesting. You said as recruiters, you get in a room or maybe it’s a virtual room today and you said you stack rank candidates based on location. Can you bring us in the room for a second and share what is this room? What is the layout? What is the objective? How does it work in terms of stack ranking candidates on location?
Chris: It’s going to fluctuate depending on the company you’re at. But when I make that comment, a lot of times what will happen is especially in companies where you’re not hired into a specific team on the frontend, you’re given, let’s say a software engineering internship and then that matching process is going to happen later. So, as you would get in a room or get in a virtual room and you’ve got all of those managers or you’ve got at least like a delegate from a specific organization who’s going to maybe speak on ten open roles. And so, you say, “Okay. Well, here are all of the candidates that have accepted offers and their number one choice would be San Francisco.
Their number two choice would be Boston, let’s say their number three choice is Austin.” So, then you’ve got these students and you kind of know what areas that they want to go in and then you sit and you look at resumes, you look at profiles and as a recruiter you’re talking like we’re talking here. “Hey, here’s the list. Okay. Well, we’ve got AJ and AJ wants to go to San Francisco. We like his profile. San Francisco, we have an opening, boom. Let’s put him there. Oh, here’s Chris. We don’t really have a position based on what he’s looking for because maybe he’s a UI/UX guy. We don’t really have that opportunity right now in San Francisco. Oh, he said he’s willing to go to Boston. Cool, let’s put him over here in Boston.” Because ultimately everyone wants to win and we want to find homes for those students, but generally it is that simple in a sense of sitting down in that room and going through those. So, that’s how it goes down a lot of times. It’s as simple as that, like hitting them back and letting you in. My preference is actually hiring a student into a respectable team.
So, take Tesla for example, I’m recruiting interior engineering students. Okay. Well, I’m hiring you AJ. You’re going to work on closures and mechanisms or you’re going to work on the dashboard.” So, you know what you’re getting right out of the gate and you know what that location is. So, there’s kind of two main buckets and main approaches that companies take when it comes to hiring interns and then getting back to your question about the location that may line up for that person.
Well, I appreciate you explaining it to us because I think your day-to-day is a recruiter seems like an average normal day, but to candidates, even to myself going through the recruitment process, it’s just things that we don’t know what happens because you apply and you feel like you apply to these black holes and you don’t know what is happening in these war rooms behind the scenes. So, I appreciate you pulling the curtain back. And one of the last questions I have for you today, Chris is talking about company certification.
So, I know certain companies actually have their own company certifications. For instance, LinkedIn has LinkedIn Learning. I know Salesforce, I think it’s Salesforce Trailhead, Google has Google certifications. I’m curious to know in your experience, especially when you were recruiting for Salesforce, if you have two candidates and one candidate went through that online training for Salesforce Trailhead and is now let’s say certified in knowing how to use Salesforce, is that a huge leg up compared to the candidate who knows about Salesforce, who interviewed well, but doesn’t have that certification?
Chris: Simply put, absolutely! Because kind of going back to our conversation about people reaching out to you blindly and not giving any supporting evidence, it’s in the same fashion, AJ and that you’re going above and beyond as a student to do that work, that shows me that you are truly, truly passionate about getting that job. You’re not just throwing darts because the reality of it is that from a university recruiter, we know that students are trying to get multiple offers normally. You’re trying to get multiple offers. And so, for me, I’m also looking for somebody who is showcasing that passion, that genuine interest in my opportunity.
So, to the question, if I have two people at the finish line, who am I going to choose? I’m going to choose that student who has gone above and beyond to show me why they should get that internship. I think we’re kind of getting to that point in the evolution of what students need to do almost like I use the word need kind of loosely, but you kind of need to, starting in high school like where can you get those certifications? What can I do or what courses? Like even Udacity, right? Something like that, those things that you can put on your resume and showcase, absolutely will make you far and away a better candidate. And I’m quoting here, a better candidate for that opportunity.
I think those are such great points. Let’s say that there’s a candidate whose dream is to work at Salesforce. They completed the Salesforce Trailhead certifications, but unfortunately, it didn’t go their way. Is that certification specifically for Salesforce still applicable to a Google, to a Microsoft, to a Facebook, even though it’s through Salesforce?
Chris: Yeah, I think so because it’s showcasing your ability to go above and beyond. Plus, let’s say, you don’t get that opportunity at Salesforce, but you’ve gone through Trailhead, you’re a Salesforce Admin certified. Going back to the example in a startup, a lot of companies use Salesforce, so now you’re walking in the door, “Oh my gosh, that guy also has Salesforce Admin certification.” It’s just another cherry on the top for you and if you have to look at it it’s accumulating all these tools and so the more tools that you can put in your toolkit, the more productive you’re going to be in any environment, even if it’s not directly related, more marketable that you’re going to be. And I think also one thing that we tend to kind of forget about is confidence.
You as an individual are going to walk into every situation now with more confidence. You’re going to walk to that interview with more confidence, you’re going to walk into that internship with more confidence. So, to your listeners, I highly recommend you do any of those certifications that you feel are applicable that would help you personally to really separate yourself because again, to your point earlier, thousands of applications and applicant tracking systems so what is going to make you stand out from everyone else?
Oftentimes, like you said, it’s the little things. You’re neck and neck between two candidates, you both have that final round interview and it’s like what is going to push them forward? And for every company, it’s different. You never know what it’s going to be, but if you have the time throughout that summer and you’re early on, maybe it’s high school to college and that kind of that gap year, let’s say or even your freshman or sophomore summer, even if you have an internship, your junior summer, you have some time in the weekend to spend a few hours each week to do a little bit more than the next person, that little 1% is going to push you above that next candidate.
So, I think no matter what certification it is, no matter what company you get certified with, I think it’s going to help propel you and you know that the biggest tools are Excel and PowerPoint. Everyone says that they know how to use Excel and PowerPoint, but how well do you actually know how to use it? Get certified in it, take a course, show that you can prove yourself and that’s going to reflect very well to someone like Chris who is looking for that ideal candidate. So, happy that you brought that up and you explained more about certifications. As we start to wrap up this interview, Chris and there
There are so many good points that you talked about. I’m curious to know about this final round interview. So, a question that we ask all our guests to wrap up the show is what is the best piece of advice that you can give to our audience to help them get past the final round interview and land the dream job?
Chris: It’s a great question. One of the things that I find is when you’re in that final interview, you have made that final interview because you have impressed people up to that point. Okay? So, don’t forget that. You’ve gotten to that final step because they feel like you’re qualified. What you have to make sure that you do is you have to, I think of it kind of like an API, you have to connect these endpoints. So, your end point is a job at this company and you. So, what you have to do is find every single opportunity where you can speak to or showcase what your abilities are, whether that’s project work, whether that’s school work, whether it’s a former internship and how that can directly relate in the end to what it is that they are looking for in that job that you are interviewing for.
So, as many end points that you can make, the better you’re going to be. Don’t step into that old adage too or like, “Well, at the end I’m going to ask these questions and like, what are you looking for? What’s a day in life?” Those are fine, but those are really old. You have to spend that time, not in any braggadocious way, AJ, but in a confident way to be able to say, “Hey, listen, from everything I’ve seen and I’ve heard so far, I’m super excited. What I understand is that you’re looking for somebody that can do this and this and this and maybe potentially kind of grow into each other,” and you stair step that down because what happens a lot of times is that people get in this interview and they get all these technical questions maybe live toting thrown at them and then they kind of freeze up and at the end it’s like, “Oh, gosh, what am I going to ask or what am I going to say?”
Obviously, we could spend a whole another pod on just how to prepare for this thing, but everything that you can do to make those endpoints talk to each other, the better you’re going to be. That’s the biggest thing for me. The second thing is almost kind of what you were talking about earlier, thank you. It’s amazing how in my career working with students, how little students will send a thank you or send that email, like “Hey, thanks so much for getting me that interview. Here’s a little note. Can you pass this on to my interviewer? Thanking them for their time as well. In that thank you email as well, same thing. “Hey, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it. I’m super excited about the role. Everything I’ve heard and seen so far, it’s absolutely a great fit. As a reminder too, remember I’ve done this and this, and I do that connection again.”
That right there, those two things, if you can really nail those, you should have no problem being that top choice. I can’t predict the future for you. I mean, you’re not going to win them all. But if you can do those things, AJ, I think for your listeners that would be a key takeaway for them as they’re getting in that final interview and really trying to push forward and be that number one choice.
I think the analogy of connecting your experience to what the company is looking for like an API or Application Program Interface makes complete sense. And even if you feel like you got grilled for 55 minutes of a one-hour interview and you get to the time where the hiring manager says, “All right, AJ, go ahead and ask some questions.” A lot of times people sit back and like, ‘Oh, that was an exhausting interview. You know, what’s the day in your life like Chris?
Chris, what’s the culture like?’ And those questions are fine, but they don’t add anything. They don’t blow me away. And especially if you didn’t do that well for 80% of the interview, but those last few minutes you really make an impact and you blow that person away and show that you went through Chris’s LinkedIn, you show that you read through his posts on LinkedIn, maybe he got some articles there. You looked him up on Binti’s website and there’s even more information on him and his mission and what he’s done. And then you ask tailored questions, very similar to what we’re doing today in this interview, that’s what gets you to the final round. So, I completely agree with all the points that you said, Chris and thank you so much again for being in the Final Round.
Chris: Yeah, thanks so much, AJ. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’m so glad we finally connected here and just hoping that your listeners can pull even one nugget out of the information that we’ve discussed today.
Chris really is the number one recommended recruiter since he changed my perspective on how candidates should reach out to get noticed. Did you learn something new in this episode? Reach out to me or Chris on LinkedIn and share your favorite takeaway. We would love to hear from you. Until the next episode of the Final Round podcast, keep fighting and I will see you in the ring.