Get to Know Kevin Jacobson, Staff Engineer

Get to Know Kevin Jacobson, Staff Engineer

Thanks for joining us! Tell us about your role with Hired and what it entails.

Hi, thanks for having me! I’ve been with Hired since 2017. When I initially joined Hired, my work focused on building internal tools to improve efficiency within the company. Since then, I have transitioned to working with more external-facing teams. Currently, I am a part of the Employer Success team, where our primary focus is on the employer-facing side of the Hired marketplace. We develop features related to sending interview requests, scheduling interviews and phone calls, and surfacing the best candidates in search results.

As a Staff Engineer, I’m responsible for building software and introducing systems and patterns into our development process that can enhance productivity and understanding within the rest of the organization. While I don’t have direct management responsibilities, I closely collaborate with my teammates to ensure they are unblocked and share context to help them understand legacy code.

Related: 3 Ways to Stay Relevant as an Experienced Software Engineer

Can you share a little bit about your background and what led you to join Hired?

Hired is only my second full-time position in my engineering career. Before working at Hired, I was an engineer at Scribd, where I helped build ‘a Netflix for eBooks.’ After spending five years there, I was eager for my next challenge. A recruiter at Scribd recommended that I sign up for Hired.

My experience on the platform was incredible. I received multiple interview requests and had the chance to speak with some amazing people and businesses. The whole process was empowering. I had no idea how desirable my five years of experience with Ruby on Rails was.

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When Hired reached out to me on their own platform and asked if I would be interested in interviewing with them, I was thrilled. I felt that my experiences and values were a great match for Hired, and it seems my interviewers felt the same way. Fast forward five-plus years, and I’m still here, loving my job.

When it comes to working at Hired, what’s your favorite part?

My favorite aspects of working at Hired are the people and the mission! Hired holds a unique position as both a B2B and B2C company. We provide value to users on both sides of the hiring equation, and because of this, we are highly motivated to excel in serving both jobseekers and hiring clients. Our business success depends on treating both parties with respect. Throughout my tenure at Hired, I have never been asked to implement anything I would consider a ‘dark pattern.’

What do you like most about your job?

One of the aspects I love most about my job is the ability to work from home. I don’t miss the hour-long commute into downtown San Francisco. I can start my day by sitting on my couch, sipping a mug of coffee, and then logging onto work without having to put on shoes.

Despite Hired’s remote-first culture, there is still a significant amount of human interaction. My team frequently shares jokes, memes, and anecdotes in our Slack channels or during the first few minutes of a meeting before everyone has arrived.

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We also have a variety of fun Slack channels for discussions that extend beyond work, including (but not limited to) #pupdates, #cattribution, and #tech-awesome.

What has been your favorite project at Hired?

I’d say my current project is particularly exciting. I’m working on a system that can take a company’s job description and convert it into search filters for finding candidates on our platform. This project leverages Large Language Models (LLMs), the latest innovation in the computing world, to transform unstructured data into structured data by utilizing an LLM’s understanding of words and their relationships to one another. For instance, the system can identify which programming languages a candidate may need to know to work with a company’s existing technology stack.

How have you advanced professionally since joining our team?

Since joining Hired, I have progressed professionally through two promotions. I started as a Software Engineer II and was subsequently promoted to the position of Senior Software Engineer. Most recently, I attained the role of Staff Engineer.

Related: Hired Honors the Fall 2023 One Team One Dream Award Winners

What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?

One of the most important career lessons I’ve learned is not to be too hard on yourself. Imposter syndrome is a real phenomenon, and it’s common to sometimes feel like a fake or a fraud. It’s crucial to remember that every engineer, regardless of their experience or the company they work for, is continuously learning and growing. We all make mistakes, but the key is taking responsibility for those mistakes, learning from them, and actively seeking ways to improve. As long as you’re doing that, you’re doing a great job.

What are your passion projects or hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work, I play bass in a rock band called Minds Without a Face. We rehearse twice a week in a converted cookie factory that has been transformed into music practice rooms and perform about eight times a year around the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’ve been playing bass for over 20 years, and it offers a different creative outlet compared to coding. Music allows me to express myself in ways that programming cannot.

Additionally, I’m an avid video gamer. My current obsession is Baldur’s Gate 3, an incredible piece of software with an immense amount of content. I can’t even begin to fathom the levels of planning and organization required to create a game of this scope.

Here are my top five video games of all time (excluding Baldur’s Gate 3):

  1. Bloodborne
  2. Into The Breach
  3. Slay The Spire
  4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  5. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

What advice would you give to someone interested in software engineering? Any book, podcast, or influencer suggestions?

My advice for someone interested in software engineering is to observe and adopt good habits from experienced engineers. Identify the most seasoned engineer on your team and engage in pair programming sessions with them. Watch their screen, actively learn how they use tools to save time, and ask them questions to gain insights into their workflow. Emulate their practices and incorporate aspects of their workflow that impress you into your own. This is particularly helpful regarding shortcuts in text editors or utilizing Unix command-line tools to find information not easily accessible in a GUI.

Additionally, I recommend reading The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier. Even if you don’t plan on pursuing a management role in your career, this book provides valuable insights into how engineering managers operate. Understanding your manager’s priorities and motivations can enhance your effectiveness as a team member.

Speaking of a good time, what is your go-to karaoke song?

‘All You Wanted’ by Michelle Branch! It’s not in my ideal vocal range, but I can’t resist singing it. I consider ‘The Spirit Room’ one of the greatest pop-rock albums of all time.

We’re a remote-first company so we have to know: if you could work from anywhere, where would it be? 

Kyoto, Japan is my dream location. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, offering an abundance of culture, beauty, and delicious food. I would love to sit by the banks of the Kamo River, working on a bugfix or planning a sprint on the elegant porches of Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Although, I believe it might be considered rude to work on a laptop in a temple.

Any WFH pets who keep you company throughout the day?

Do I have pets?! Hehe. Oh yeah!

My wonderful wife, Courtney, and I take great pride in our four cats: Zoe (11), Tilly (8), Huey (8), and Poppy (5). We’ve also welcomed the latest addition to our furry family, Remi (3), a rambunctious Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Remi enjoys supervising the cats and going for long walks in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

I love them all so much, but I find myself vacuuming my home several times a day.

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