jessicabrody

Crunchbase Director of Recruiting Jessica Brody

Jessica BrodyDirector of Recruiting

Crunchbase’s Director of Recruiting shares how to manage being the first recruiting hire, as well as what to expect from CEO interviews, what ideal interview feedback looks like, and how to conquer imposter syndrome.

Related:

Episode Transcript

00:00 Rob Stevenson: Hello again, my wonderful talent acquiring pals. It is I, Rob Stevenson, once again, broadcasting from the cozy, cozy, most salubrious confines of Hired HQ, in San Francisco, California, where I shall, again, endeavor to bring you that sweet, sweet audio-based recruiting content. If you’ve never heard the show before, here’s all you need to know. Every week, I will be bringing in my favorite people in the recruitment space, directors of recruitment, heads of talent, VPs of HR, other titles more than likely, and they are all going to do primarily one thing: Talk Talent To Me.

00:36 RS: And this week, I have joining me the inimitable Director of Recruiting at Crunchbase, Jessica Brody. And Jessica started up at Crunchbase as the first recruiting hire. She’s since built out the team a bit, made a bazillion hires, instituted interview training and is also in the process of piping ATS data into a third party analytics app to get unprecedented view into her hiring pipeline.

00:58 RS: But on a macro level, if you aspire to be a director of recruitment, if you expect to find yourself as an early talent hire at a young company, Jessica has some great advice for you about where to start, what to prioritize, as well as how to deal with that crippling bogeyman haunting all of us, impostor syndrome. Imposter syndrome is really common. And if there’s someone you think doesn’t have it, there’s a non-zero chance they’re probably just really good at hiding it. Albert Einstein even used to talk about impostor syndrome. Do you know that? This guy revolutionized the field of physics, and while he was at it, he was looking around, like, “I hope zey don’t find me out. I’m a fraud.” Wow, he sounded just like that.

01:45 RS: No, what he really said was, and I won’t do the voice, “The exaggerated esteem in which my life work is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” Involuntary swindler. Can you imagine setting the scene for how scientists understand the fabric of the universe for decades, and then feeling like you’ve been conning people the whole time? So it’s okay. It’s okay to feel that as we go about our daily lives.

02:13 RS: Want some more unsolicited inspiration? Great. The former First Lady of these United States, Michelle Obama, covers impostor syndrome at length in her new memoir, Becoming, and at a recent event, she expounded a little bit on it. Quote, “It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities about our power and what that power is.” Later, she goes on. “I have been at probably every powerful table you can think of. I have worked at non-profits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G Summits, I’ve sat in in at the UN. They are not that smart.”

02:54 RS: Yeah, FLOTUS, I love it. So, you can go be that director, that VP, that whatever it is. Jessica and I chat about how, plus all that regularly scheduled “how to go about the whole recruiting thing” programming. I can’t wait for you all to hear this one. So, without further ado or embarrassing German accents, I give you Jessica Brody.

[music]

04:00 RS: Jessica Brody, the director of recruiting at Crunchbase, is in the house. Jessica, how are you?

04:03 Jessica Brody: Good, how are you?

04:04 RS: Really, really well. Thank you so much for being here. It took me way too long to realize that I should let people talk about what their companies do at the beginning just to set some context. So, do you wanna give us a little crash course in Crunchbase?

04:15 JB: Sure, Crunchbase is the leading destination to discover companies, and the people behind them. So there’s about 50 million people that use our product. It’s entrepreneurs, sales people, recruiters, basically deal makers of all kinds, actually go to Crunchbase to make really important business decisions.

04:33 RS: That was really good. Your marketing person is gonna be so happy that you’re very on brand.

[laughter]

04:36 JB: I hope so. Hey, Shanee.

04:38 RS: Yeah, hey, Shanee. Shout out to Shanee who wrote the brand messaging guidelines document, presumably.

04:41 JB: Yes.

04:43 RS: Well, what are you working on over at Crunchbase? What are the key hires for you right now?

04:47 JB: Yeah, a big portion of what we’re working on right now is engineering and product hires. So, we’re hiring every type of engineer imaginable: Front-end, platform, data engineers, data scientists, data analysts, infrastructure engineers, and then on top of that, we’re looking for PMs. So we’re looking for folks that are focused on growth, so building top-of-the-funnel user acquisition, actually converting and retaining them, and then we’re looking for generalist product managers as well, and also building out our marketing team. So, shout out to Shanee again, we have this incredible new head of marketing, and we’re looking for folks across the board in marketing.

05:20 RS: Goodness, that’s a lot of roles.

05:21 JB: Yes.

05:22 RS: Is it just you, or what’s the talent team look like?

05:23 JB: Yeah, we’re a mighty team of two.

05:26 RS: Nice.

05:26 JB: So it’s me and one other woman named Jessica also, and we’ve got about 17-18 open positions left for the rest of the year.

05:34 RS: Wow, just before when the rest of the year means the next week and a half, basically, right?

05:39 JB: Basically, yeah.

05:39 RS: Good. Well, are you gonna hit those goals? Are you close? What’s it look like?

05:43 JB: We’ll get close.

05:44 RS: Yeah.

05:45 JB: It’s a stretch, but we’re doing everything we can to get there.

05:48 RS: What I like to say is that if you hit your goals, then your goals weren’t lofty enough.

05:51 JB: Exactly.

05:52 RS: So if your CEO gives you pushback, you know what? We’re really stretching, we’re really trying to hit those, reach goals. So here we are, this is a good place to be.

05:58 JB: Exactly. I’ll tell him that.

06:00 RS: Yeah, definitely, that’s a free one.

06:00 JB: Yes, thanks.

06:02 RS: So you’ve got all these technical roles. Are those taking the bulk of your time, or what are the hardest ones you’re looking at right now?

06:09 JB: Yeah, so I’m mostly focused on the technical positions, as well as marketing. So I’m focused on everything across the board in engineering, and then I work on the marketing positions, a lot of the director level roles, but engineering is always a really important place for us. That’s the bulk of the hiring at Crunchbase, in general. So we usually look to hire somewhere between 10 and 15 engineers a year.

06:30 RS: How are the hiring managers and engineers you have in terms of interviewing?

06:35 JB: Oh, they’re awesome. The thing that I will say about Crunchbase is that it is the best group of hiring managers that I’ve ever worked with.

06:42 RS: Great.

06:43 JB: Before I joined Crunchbase, I was in consulting and so I worked with about 13 or 14 different startups, and during the agency days, obviously, consulted or worked with a lot of different startups. And across the board, no one likes doing interviews, until I got to Crunchbase, where everyone actually feels like that’s their responsibility to talk to candidates and they feel really invested in the folks that we’re bringing on board. So…

07:06 RS: I love that.

07:06 JB: Yeah, it’s been nice. No one ever complains. If they do, they’re kind of joking about it and then they move on.

07:12 RS: Right, right. Is there a risk that that goes too well, do you ever have to reel people in a little bit and be like, “You know, this is the process we set up.”

07:19 JB: Yeah, we definitely have to reel people in and I think it’s a good problem to have…

07:23 RS: Sure.

07:23 JB: Because you can actually get, you know, there’s so many people that are excited about interviewing, but we have to tell people they can’t be on every single panel. And it’s an interesting change, too, from going from joining Crunchbase at about 15 people where, no matter what the team is, nearly the entire team would meet with a particular candidate that was interviewing. So now, we’re moving into hey, it’s only a small number of people on each team that get to meet that person.

07:48 RS: I wonder about that turnover in interview panels, how much that affects the process, because certainly, as you grow, it’s not sustainable. You can’t have the same six people meet every candidate, right? They have other things to do. And just scheduling becomes an issue, I’m sure, but isn’t that a challenge when you are swapping people out? Doesn’t that make it hard to be sure you have a consistent interview process?

08:11 JB: Yeah, so historically, we actually haven’t been swapping people out, so we’ve been pretty consistent across the board, but we’re now about 80 employees, so things are really starting to change, so we can’t have the same product manager interview every single engineering candidate or every single design candidate. So we’re having to make decisions. And so, we typically would pick one, but at one point, they start to get overloaded and so it’s really important for them to be on the same page about what the expectations are. So what are the core competencies that we’re looking for in each candidate, and then making sure that across the board, they’re actually scoring candidates the same way. So it’s been helpful for us in the past, where we’ve actually had both, as an example, we’ve had both product managers interview a candidate at the same time, so we’re making sure that the feedback syncs up afterwards. And so you could expect that they’re giving relatively the same feedback.

09:01 RS: You mean, both of them interviewing the same candidate, like 2 on 1?

09:04 JB: Yeah, exactly.

09:04 RS: Okay, got it. And so is that just sort of to give them a sense of what the other person looks for and hoping that they’ll kind of meet each other in the middle?

09:14 JB: It started out as this opportunity to just, if there wasn’t enough time in the day, but we wanted both people to meet that candidate, so it didn’t start out with that intention, but I think ultimately, they were very aware that it was really important for them to be on the same page, and so then they would sync up and say, “What did you think about this candidate? What did you think? Here were my key findings as a result of this interview. Are they consistent?” And if they aren’t, then you work on ways to actually get them to get on the same page.

09:41 RS: Right. So started in the interest of saving time, is that kind of… You had all these other ancillary benefits. So is that part of the process now, you see the benefit in getting people to level set in the same room?

09:51 JB: Yeah, and I think that’s something that’s really important to start from the very beginning of the process. So we’re in the process of building an interview training model. We had gone from a smaller team with a lot of folks that had been really experienced interviewers to now a larger team, where every company has a little bit of a different model, so now we’re having people come in that don’t know sort of how Crunchbase operates things. And so, the model we had before, wasn’t really scalable…

10:16 RS: Right.

10:17 JB: And part of this is making sure that the entire interview panel is on the same page before we even start to interview candidates. What are the things that we’re looking for? What are those core competencies? What’s a nice to have? What is a good answer to a particular question, and does that warrant a certain score? And so, making sure that you’re on the same page at the very beginning, helps to ultimately make sure that at the end of the process, when you’re syncing up on feedback, that you’re getting the right kind of feedback and that’s actionable, and that’s going to determine whether or not someone’s going to be a good fit for your team.

10:53 RS: Yeah, definitely, and you can tell how level set people are in their interview roles by reading feedback…

11:00 JB: Oh, yeah.

11:00 RS: And if it’s all over the place, then you either know A, they’re bad at writing feedback, or B, they’re not structuring the interview correctly, C, both. And so then you had that opportunity to be like, A, here’s what good feedback looks like, and B, this feedback doesn’t reflect the interview that you’re meant to be having.

11:19 JB: Exactly. That’s a really important thing too. And even learning to actually write feedback is a skill and it takes some time, but it’s really helpful if you have sort of a framework of what you should be following.

11:30 RS: Right, right. What does bad feedback, I guess, you know it when you see it, if it’s just a bunch of notes, a bunch of hyphens and notes. But good feedback means, in an ideal world of perfect feedback, what would it look like?

11:45 JB: Yeah, perfect feedback to me looks like a quick summary, sort of the TL: DR version of that. So quick highlights of this person, are you a yes or a no, and here’s why. And then talking about the specific questions that you covered, ideally, then there’s a framework built into the feedback form of, “Hey, you’re covering this particular topic. And they did well on this, but why did they do well?” But on the counter to that, what bad feedback looks like is, “I like this candidate. They were better than the last candidate we spoke to.”

12:15 RS: Right, right. We talked about ’90s romantic comedies for 20 minutes…

12:19 JB: Right, great. So they’re gonna be a really good engineer then.

12:23 RS: Right. Yeah, that’ll be great at trivia night but I don’t know about engineering.

12:25 JB: Although our front end team is actually really into trivia night. So that is…

12:29 RS: Okay.

12:29 JB: Could be really relevant.

12:30 RS: Do they have a punny trivia name?

12:33 JB: That’s a great question, I’m gonna have to ask them. I don’t know, they wouldn’t share that with me.

12:36 RS: Hired marketing team did trivia one night. And we were Team Snorketing, and we got first place…

12:42 JB: Snorketing. [laughter]

12:42 RS: We’ve never gone back ’cause we’re like, nope, pack it in, we did it. We won.

12:46 JB: You don’t wanna mess up with your record.

12:48 RS: No, exactly. And that same, we were talking about this earlier, strange that it came up again. But there’s another team there called Teachers Night Out, and they got dead last, and I was like, “Oh, no, the kids don’t stand a chance.”

12:58 JB: No. [laughter] Not smart teachers.

13:02 RS: That’s another interesting question is, of course, the “Would I have a beer with this person?” test is like shameful. Assessing for culture fit, culture add, what part does that really have, ’cause like if someone… If all things considered, two candidates were very, very equal, but one expressed a preference for going to trivia night with the front-end team and the other one’s like, “I hate trivia.” Does that… Is that, are you allowed to have that factor in? ‘Cause it seems like there’s all this energy being put in, like the beer test is bad. This is about performance and ability not, like you said, with bad feedback, I like this person.

13:40 JB: Yeah.

13:40 RS: So what part does that play in the process of any…

13:42 JB: Yeah, that’s a good question, so I prefer to think about it like you had mentioned in the culture add. So I’m not looking for someone who’s going to be an exact replica of me and who has the same interests as me. In fact, it’s kind of nice when you have someone who’s interested in different things, and I think, if you look at the beer test or even the trivia test if, let’s say, we had someone on that team, that says, “I hate trivia.”

14:02 RS: Right.

14:03 JB: Then we can be like, “Okay, that’s too bad. Let’s pick a new activity that seems interesting to all of us.”

14:07 RS: Let’s be inclusive. Yeah.

14:08 JB: Yeah, that’s not gonna be scalable. And even…

14:12 RS: Okay, that’s a really good point, yeah, yeah, exactly.

14:13 JB: Yeah. I mean… Even if you look at our trivia night as an example, that’s an after-work activity.

14:18 RS: Right.

14:18 JB: As we get bigger in that team, everyone has different after-work activities, maybe that’s not something that’s…

14:24 RS: Exactly.

14:25 JB: That’s doable.

14:25 RS: That’s a really great point. When there’s 80 people on this team, are we still gonna be like, “Alright, we have an 80-person trivia team.” And like, what? No.

14:32 JB: But I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re looking for people that don’t look like you in any sense of the fashion. So what value does that add to your team if you’re hiring someone with the exact same background? So you try to look for people that are complementary to you and match your values. If you’re kind, if you work hard, you wanna work with the folks on your team. I think those things are really much more important than, will this person go have a beer with me after work? ‘Cause frankly, I actually think that would be a really bad thing, ’cause, you know, not everyone drinks.

15:03 RS: Right.

15:04 JB: And I think, drinking shouldn’t be the center of conversations around that.

15:07 RS: Yeah, yeah, the beer. It’s the same as the trivia. Not everyone likes trivia, it doesn’t mean they’re not a good…

15:12 JB: Exactly.

15:13 RS: Add to your company. So, at hire, that takes the form of a culture add interview. There is these people who are identified as values interviewers and they’re like, “Is this person additive to the culture in a non-ability kind of fashion?” Does that have a role in the Crunchbase interviewing process?

15:32 JB: Yeah, I think that’s part of every single interview. We don’t have a designated culture interview at this point, but a lot of what’s covered in, we actually have our CEO meet with every candidate we’ve ever hired. And so that is a huge crux of what he covers. So do we match values? That’s something that I cover in my initial conversation with candidates, as well as when they come on site. I wrap up with them and make sure that we’re on the same page. And there are a lot of kind of things that you can uncover by that and I think some of that you can uncover on the phone, but a lot of that you can’t uncover until you meet with someone in person.

16:04 RS: Yeah, definitely. The CEO meeting every candidate thing is an interesting one, ’cause that seems to be pretty common for smaller companies, but at a certain point, it’s like you can’t really have it.

16:14 JB: Yeah.

16:14 RS: But I understand the compulsion for the CEO because at 30 people, that one person you hire is 1/30th of your company and 1/30th of your culture. They can make a big impact. At a certain point, that doesn’t scale. Where will you… When do you think at Crunchbase it’ll stop? When will you have to tell your CEO, “Listen, love your input, but maybe you don’t have time to meet all these people.”

16:35 JB: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, I’m dreading that day. I think our CEO is our best sales person. He’s also very different than any other CEO that I’ve met. He’s a normal person. He’s not some weird dude that never interacts with anyone. It’s really, he is very much an emblem of our culture. And so, I’ve found that our candidates get so excited when they talk to him and that’s such a really important touch.

17:00 RS: Yes.

17:01 JB: But it’s not gonna be scalable. I hope that day is further down the road then perhaps it may be, because sometimes it’s just not gonna work with schedules, so if we have three or four interviews in a particular day, that’s just not gonna work.

17:13 RS: Yeah.

17:14 JB: But that means that we actually have to train hiring managers as much as possible on actually having some of those same conversations, so really matching what their pitch looks like and making sure that you’re getting candidates just as excited as if they had just met the CEO.

17:28 RS: Yes. And that definitely becomes a hiring manager’s job. They become somewhat cheerleaders for the company and their job becomes, get the candidate excited, but like you’re excited to have them on your team, you can’t wait to work together. This company is great, because X, Y, Z. Close like closing your candidate, essentially.

17:47 JB: Yeah, I mean, in many ways, too, I think a really important thing is that a lot of people take jobs, and frankly leave jobs, due to their managers.

17:54 RS: Yes.

17:54 JB: So if you don’t have that great experience, if your manager can’t get you excited from that initial conversation and from your onsite interview, that’s part of being a manager.

18:06 RS: Definitely.

18:07 JB: And that’s a skill that you need to learn, ’cause it’s so important.

18:10 RS: Yes. The other thing with CEO interviews, and I’ve run into this a couple of times, is what happens when the entire team loves the candidate and the CEO is not sure because, on the one hand, look, you can’t brick your interview with the CEO, right? You just can’t, but they’re not gonna report to the CEO. They might not have that much interaction with them. Does the CEO have the final absolute say?

18:35 JB: It’s an interesting question. I think, for us, our CEO really empowers the hiring managers to make decisions. So if the team loves that person, and the hiring managers or the CEO is kind of like “eh,” then I think we’ll typically default to what the team says. If the CEO comes out and actually has serious red flags, that’s something that we need to take into account and actually have a conversation about what that meant. So what was covered? And are the red flags that were seen in that conversation, seen anywhere else throughout the interview process? That’s really important to keep in mind.

19:07 RS: Yes, definitely, and that’s true for every other interview, too, right. If they had one glaring really off-color comments, like, “Wait, what?” That could shut everything down.

19:17 JB: And I think on that note too, you can’t assume that they had that exact same conversation with everyone, so they could have made an off-hand comment to just one person, but no one else saw that. So you could have walked down in a room. We’re talking about hiring scores or Lever Scores or Greenhouse or whatever you use, if it’s on a1 to 4 scale. You could have everyone say a 4 and then you could also have someone say a 1, because they did something that was inappropriate, and I think that’s really important to take into account.

19:42 RS: Yeah, yeah, of course. And with the CEO, though, maybe the ideal role is for them not to pass, unless there’s something glaring, for them not to pass judgment and be like, “Listen, hiring manager. Your decision to make. My take is this, take that with a grain of salt, maybe have another conversation with them, or bear that in mind, but this is your team, you do what you think is right.” I guess, then, my question is, what is, in the realm of assigning responsibility to each… Like your interview is about this, your interview is about this to each member of the panel, what’s the role of the CEO? Is their role just to get someone excited or is there an assessment that has to take place there too?

20:19 JB: No, I think there’s assessment as well. So I think a big portion of it is ensuring consistency across everything that they’ve heard about Crunchbase and kind of reiterating that. So, “Hey, you first spoke to Jessica, who told you about Crunchbase at sort of a high level of what we’re working on.” You then spoke to the particular hiring manager who said, “Here’s the vision of our team, specifically. So, here’s what engineering is working on.” And then you get to the CEO who says, “You’ve heard of all of these things that we’re working on, you’ve heard a little bit down the road of what we’re working on next, but here’s what the ultimate goal of Crunchbase is.” So what does five years look like down the road, what does 10 years look like down the road for us, ’cause we’ve sort of been like a building block. We’ve been around for 11 years, but are in our second life now, having been an independent company for about three years.

21:07 RS: Right.

21:07 JB: But I think assessment is there as well. So does this person match our values? Are they gonna be an addition to our team? Do we think that this person is gonna be successful in this role? I think that’s absolutely an element. It’s not just a, “Hey, let me pitch to you.” But it’s also an opportunity to have people ask questions, and I think if you go into an interview with a CEO and don’t ask questions, that’s a… To me, that’s a really red, a big red flag.

21:31 RS: Yeah, or any interview for that matter, right?

21:32 JB: Yeah.

21:32 RS: You should have lots of questions.

21:35 JB: Yeah, and just come up with a sample list of a few… If you can’t, let’s say, you just had the most informational interview you’ve ever had. You learned everything you ever wanted to know, have a couple boiler plate questions that you can at least like, “Tell me about the culture.”

21:49 RS: Yeah, exactly, yeah, and you and I, we’ve been around the startup block a few times, so we have questions like, “How much runway do we have? How much money you guys are making? What’s your sales cycle like? What’s your billing cycle like? What’s your sales team goals? Are they hitting their goals? How many goal… Of all these teams, have they hit their goal in the last couple of years? If I have variable comp, that’s based on people hitting goals, did they do it last time?”

22:09 RS: Yeah.

22:10 RS: All those questions, but if it’s your first job…

22:12 JB: Oh, yeah.

22:12 RS: You’re not gonna know that. But you… The least you can do is on the way to the office, google “what questions should I ask in an interview” and then have something, have like, “What’s your… ” If someone asked me like, “What’s your favorite part about working here?” I’m like…

[vocalization]

22:25 RS: Bad question. But you could be a little critical, you could be like, “What was hard for you here? What’s your biggest challenge?” Something like that.

22:31 JB: Yeah, you can ask questions about what the growth opportunities look like. What sort of activities do you people do out of work? What are you interested in? What do you like the most about working here? Maybe that… They’re very boilerplate questions, but to me, at least that’s showing some… And then you also take little tidbits from whatever the answers are. How can you build upon that? That shows that you’re intellectually curious. If you have no questions at all, then I think that, to me, is a sign that you’re not curious.

22:58 RS: Right.

23:00 JB: Or also, you’re not asking the right questions that you should be to know where you’re gonna work next.

23:03 RS: Yeah, yeah, you’re either not engaged in… You’re not excited or engaged in that company or maybe… Maybe you are just like naïve, maybe… Can you forgive that? Can you look at a candidate and be like, “You’re so doe-eyed and fresh-faced and 22 years old, and this is your first job and you’re sweaty and nervous in an interview, we forgive you for not asking questions.”

23:22 JB: Yeah, I think that’s a little bit different than an engineer with 10 years of experience who’s worked at startups in the past, but I actually think that 22-year-olds should be coming in with tons of questions.

23:33 RS: Right.

23:33 JB: This is their first shot. What’s that going to be like? They’re gonna be spending a considerable amount of time there. So your questions may not be as educated as they would be if you had experience working for companies in the past, but there are a lot of questions that you can ask. Like you said, google…

23:50 RS: Yeah.

23:50 JB: What should I ask in an interview?

23:52 RS: Takes 30 seconds while you’re waiting for the elevator or something.

23:55 JB: Yeah.

23:55 RS: But yeah, to that effect, though, I would prefer someone asking like, “What’s the dress code?” to asking nothing, right?

24:03 JB: That… What’s the dress code? I’ve actually had people ask that before. Yeah.

24:06 RS: I think that’s a smart one. That’s probably more important to ask once you get the offer, but you can also just…

24:11 JB: I was just gonna say is that gonna determine whether or not you take a job? Probably not, unless, you never know.

24:17 RS: Yeah. You can also just look around the office while you’re walking to the interview room, right? Yeah.

24:21 JB: Right. And looking at the person you’re interviewing with. Yeah.

24:24 RS: Yeah, if someone ever asks what the dress code is, just vaguely gesture to what you’re wearing, and be like, “Next.”

24:29 JB: This. [laughter]

24:31 RS: You’ve also got some new analytic projects you’re working on.

24:35 JB: Yes.

24:35 RS: Right?

24:37 JB: We have historically been using Lever. We use Lever as our applicant tracking system, and historically, we’ve been using the data directly out of that, and their reporting capabilities. We realized that it wasn’t able… Sorry, Lever… To give us a full picture of what we’re looking for.

24:53 RS: Shots fired.

24:53 JB: Yeah. [laughter]

24:54 JB: I’m gonna get a real angry email from our account manager. It didn’t have the ability for us to track over the course of time and really derive insights from the data or actually be able to compare and contrast how we’re doing month-over-month. It was just sort of like this whole picture of, “Hey, here’s all this raw data,” but it’s not giving you the things to make actions or take action from it. So we’ve been spending a lot of time… One of the product managers that I work with actually offered to help us with this and so we started using Lever’s API. We put everything into a data visualization tool called Periscope.

25:28 RS: Sure, yeah.

25:28 JB: And it’s been incredible. We’ve learned a lot from this data. What are some historical trends that we’ve seen over the course of the year, how has that actually compared to the years previous, and what do we think are some of the insights that we can derive from that? And so, that’s gonna be really helpful. We’re in the process right now of, for the first time, working on OKRs, and there are some teams that are putting time-specific numbers to hiring. And so, we need to make sure that we’re able to have all the resources we need to be able to hit those goals or hit those OKRs. It’s gonna be really important for us. And now that we have this data, we can actually make those decisions.

26:05 RS: Love that, that other teams, not recruiting, are like, “It is a priority for us to hire X amount of people.”

26:12 JB: Yeah.

26:13 RS: Say that every team had that goal. Does that mean you have… Not have your OKRs? What would yours be independent of other people’s hiring goals?

26:20 JB: So, funnily enough, that’s actually one of our OKRs for Q1 is higher all open headcount.

26:26 RS: Okay.

26:26 JB: So every single team in the company actually has that as their OKRs.

26:29 RS: Great.

26:30 JB: And… That is a very much a part of what my OKRs are as well. So what are the things that I’m gonna be doing to ensure that? And so, you can’t just come up with these arbitrary numbers of what those are. You have to really take into account what historically you’ve been doing and what are the things that you need to change moving forward, if you haven’t been able to hit those.

26:49 RS: Right.

26:50 JB: So that’s been… Hiring is a huge, huge priority for us, and we really take this as, it’s not just recruiting’s responsibility to fill jobs, it is absolutely each individual team, because you are a part of this process as well.

27:03 RS: Yes. Have you gotten as far as looking at pipeline numbers and backing your way down and looking at available interview time and saying, when you make that projection, it’s like, “Look, to hire all these roles, given previous numbers, we have to bring in this many people,” blah, blah, blah. And so you can actually map out how close you are. Is that part of this new process, the Periscope maybe?

27:23 JB: Yes, so part of that process is understanding how much… How many interviews we need to bring in to actually be able to get the outcomes, so where in the process do we need to make changes to be able to hit those goals. We haven’t done that as it goes to availability for interviews, but we’ve very much prepped the teams that, in order to hit these specific goals, that they need to be able to allocate time for that. We’ve never had an issue with people saying that, “Hey, we’re not available to do interviews.” The nice thing is, and I think this is really something that has to come from the top, that our CEO has always said that interviewing is the number one priority of the organization. So, if you can skip your meetings if that’s the case, you have to interview people.

28:04 RS: That’s great. So, for you, from a scheduling perspective, that can be really stressful playing Tetris with people’s Google Calendar, but you’re just like, “No, I’m just gonna stamp this over that one.”

28:12 JB: Really over that, yeah.

28:12 RS: Forget about that one-on-one, you’re not going.

28:16 JB: Yeah, so sometimes they hate me for that, but I think it’s the nice part is that I’m very… I’ve been here for three years and there were very few circumstances whenever anyone’s ever been like, “I absolutely cannot miss this meeting.”

28:28 RS: Right.

28:28 JB: And it’s usually something that’s incredibly important if that’s the case, but if it’s an internal meeting, that meeting can be rescheduled. Your priority is to interview.

28:37 RS: Yeah, exactly, so maybe it’s a little too soon to ask, but what are the… I need early insights from this Lever to Periscope integration you’ve hacked together?

28:46 JB: Yeah, I’m… So 2018 has been a really interesting year. I mentioned that Crunchbase has been sort of this building… Each piece of what we’ve been working on has been like a building block, and we’ve gone from beginning of 2016 when I joined, we were… When we first spun out of TechCrunch, we were operating in stealth mode, so people knew who we were, but they had no idea what we were working on. So we spent about a year being like, “We’re doing these really cool things, we just can’t tell you about them at all.”

29:14 RS: It wasn’t its own company, really, at the time.

29:16 JB: Well, that’s when we became a private company.

29:18 RS: Oh, got it, okay.

29:18 JB: Yeah, so we had existed for about eight years under the umbrella of TechCrunch and then we spun out and during that process, we raised a Series A. We brought on our CEO, who joined us from Salesforce, and we became a private start-up and so it was like this unique situation of existing for a long period of time. So we obviously have a lot of brand recognition around Silicon Valley.

29:41 JB: Tons, yeah.

29:42 RS: But we’re doing something completely different, and now we’re sort of starting over from scratch with a brand new team.

29:49 RS: So what I mean is, this is a little off the topic of recruiting, but it’s so interesting. Did TechCrunch basically decide that they couldn’t support what this tool had become? And then they’re like, “It’s either gonna die or become its own thing,” and then it’s like, “Well, this should live on.” What was the process of decoupling?

30:05 JB: Yeah, it’s sort of a weird series of events. The concept of Crunchbase came about because TechCrunch wanted a way to keep track of the companies that they wrote about. It was like this…

30:13 RS: It’s probably an internal spreadsheet at first.

30:14 JB: Yeah, basically it was like, “How do we determine who’s gonna write about what?”

30:18 RS: Yeah, oh, I see.

30:18 JB: And how do we track information over the course of time of like… You wrote this article about a company six months ago, but you couldn’t remember the name of their founder, or how many rounds of funding they had raised or things like that, so it started as that, that was ultimately opened up to the public. And when, at some point, I can’t remember what year, but AOL acquired TechCrunch. Crunchbase was valued at $0 then. It was this product within a company that didn’t have a lot of resources. So at some point, they dedicated a direct team to it. That team grew-ish, but a lot of what they were doing was maintaining the site.

30:56 JB: We had an API at that time, not a lot of people knew it existed, so it sort of existed but wasn’t doing anything hugely exciting. And then they realized that there was a lot of opportunity for Crunchbase, but it wasn’t gonna be under the current circumstances. There weren’t enough resources, whatever that may be. It just made more sense for it to be independent. So they went through this process of identifying a venture capital firm to work with, so we partnered with Emergence Capital and they interviewed, I think, something like 80 CEOS.

31:29 RS: Nice.

31:29 JB: And I’ll tell the story of Jager, our CEO. The interview was build a roadmap and pitch a company. And he came in, and it was exactly what they were thinking. He was pitching something that no one else pitched, and that was what led to the spin-out. So we raised funding at that point, and that’s when we became a private startup.

31:50 RS: Got it.

31:51 JB: Yeah.

31:51 RS: Then when did you come along?

31:53 JB: So, I came along in January 2016, just about two or three months after the spin-out from TechCrunch. I had worked with a company called Connery Consulting, and they had a really interesting model of kind of a hybrid agency, in-house model. So oftentimes what would happen is, we would consult tech companies that often had just raised funding, just had this really big huge growth plan and either had no idea how to recruit, so this was their first time actually growing a team, or we were supplementing existing teams, but there was a lot of growth going on. So, I come to Crunchbase and they’re like, “We have this brand new company, we’ve hired several brand new people, and we wanna build an entirely new team, an entirely new culture. How do we do this?” So I joined as a consultant and within a few weeks, I knew that I wanted to work there full-time. And it was just like the serendipitous opportunity that came about that they offered me a job and I was just thrilled to join.

32:52 RS: So… Then what? You were kind of director of… But one-woman band, right?

33:00 JB: Yes.

33:01 RS: So where did you begin?

33:01 JB: God. Big focus of what I’ve worked on was recruiting, so a lot of hiring was around engineering at that time, so just cranking away at engineering. It was a really interesting thing, and HR was something that I always wanted to learn. Part of the model at Connery was a combination of recruiting and HR, but I was in the HR or excuse me, I was in the recruiting practice, and it was something that I had touched but never really dove into. And so, for me, it was this really cool opportunity of, “Hey, you can do these new things,” and I had very much a fear of failing. It’s a really scary thing to go in and be the only person and dive into an area that you don’t have a ton of expertise, but I spent a lot of time talking to different people who had done the same thing in the past and the biggest thing that I learned was that you have to surround yourself with partners.

33:52 JB: So we had an incredible PEO that we worked with, a company called Sequoia One that really helped me out on the HR side. We had incredible immigration attorneys, employment attorneys, and so that was really helpful. So I spent still the biggest chunk of my time is focused on recruiting, but then I also worked on the HR piece for a while, kind of generally administration stuff.

34:14 RS: Got it. Boy, I’m such a bad interviewer. It’s like, this should have been at the beginning. This is the Quentin Tarantino episode, maybe I can edit it together, I don’t know, but it was interesting to set that context ’cause I feel like a lot of… Also, in your case, a lot of people in recruiting wanna take that next step in their career, a good opportunity is to be the first recruiter at a young company and then gets an opportunity to get that title. And then you say that was scary, though, to be the first person. So were you given head count? Were you able to build your team or was it like… You have to hire all these engineers and then also be the recruiting coordinator and also be the HR person, and probably also be the office manager all in one go?

34:56 JB: Yeah, so fortunately, I didn’t have to be the office manager as well, but it was focused around everything related to recruiting, so I was a coordinator, a sourcer, a recruiter, helping to figure out what positions we should hire for, and then on the HR side as well, it was sort of not just two positions in one, it was several different. So it was really daunting and I think it was really scary and you very much have this fear of, kind of, you have this impostor syndrome thing too, that’s not uncommon for females or just people in general, and yeah, it was, “How do you crank?” All you do is source all day and all night, and you’re talking to just tons and tons of candidates, but also trying to make sure that people that work at the company are happy and that they’re staying there.

35:42 JB: But I think what was cool about it is it really taught me this philosophy of really thinking about sort of the entire candidate journey, so not just from the first interaction with a candidate but, once you hire them, what then happens? And it was nice to be a part of that process, where we go from hiring someone to them coming on-site. And they already knew the person that’s onboarding them and they already knew the person that’s gonna help them any time they have an issue, they needed advice on how to talk to their manager, or they had benefits questions, or they didn’t know, “What do career steps look like here, and how do I talk to my manager about maybe even wanting to switch teams?”

36:18 RS: Right, right.

36:19 JB: So that was really cool.

36:20 RS: I love that, yeah, because if you inherit a team of recruiting, and if you inherit a recruiting process, if you come into an established one, you don’t have the opportunity to that intimately know the whole process. Are you really gonna go in and read sourcing emails? Are you gonna sit in on interviews? I mean, probably not, but having created it, having been the person that did it, and sort of literally written the documentation and playbook for it, you can make sure that things… You at least know what’s going on and you can set things up in a way that can grow and you can be sure that there’s quality. I want us to go back to impostor syndrome real quick because that is just so common. I don’t think it’s any reassuring, though, to realize that everyone has impostor syndrome.

37:02 JB: Yeah. [chuckle]

37:02 RS: Right, Albert Einstein used to talk about it.

37:04 JB: There are people that do not have impostor syndrome and I envy them.

37:06 RS: Do you think so?

37:07 JB: Yeah, I really do, I think they’re…

37:08 RS: Do you they’re just better at hiding it?

37:10 JB: I think there are people that do not care.

37:12 RS: Or they’re just too naïve.

37:13 JB: No, I don’t think it’s an issue of naivete. It’s like there are some people that know that they may not have things, but they know enough to say that they’re gonna walk around like they do and they don’t care if someone finds out. They know they’re just smart.

37:27 RS: Oh, okay, well, that’s the… Yeah, the not caring is the issue, because if you just don’t care, then you have all of the symptoms of impostor syndrome without the actual pain of it, right?

37:37 JB: Right.

37:37 RS: Yeah.

37:38 JB: So maybe they do, they just don’t care.

37:40 RS: They’re just good at hiding it or they want people to think they don’t care, I don’t know.

37:42 JB: Yeah.

37:43 RS: But, hey, if you’re out there and you think that you’re about to get found out, because you’ve conned people into believing you know what you are talking about, just know that we’re all right there with you.

37:55 JB: That’s good to know.

37:56 RS: Yeah, and 200-odd podcast episodes later, I’m still feeling the same way. I can’t believe I’m doing this. So I think it’s natural and totally fair to feel that way.

38:05 JB: Yeah, I think it’s important for companies to know that that exists too, especially when you’re going to a startup, where it’s a tiny company. And I think what’s really unique about Crunchbase is that, even at the time we were about 15 employees, I think when I joined, we were something around 20 million uniques and that’s a lot of traffic, just on that alone. So we were working, we were like this 15, 20-person team, working on this product that’s used by 20 million people. So you’re doing things at a scale that you’ve never done before.

38:37 RS: Right.

38:39 JB: That model didn’t really exist anywhere else. Obviously, there’s probably tons of companies that have done spin-outs in the past, but it was this really unique experience. So you’re doing things that perhaps you wouldn’t do in a normal startup that was a series A company like we were. So you’re constantly flexing muscles that you didn’t even know exist. And I think it’s really important for companies to be able to say, “Hey, odds are you haven’t done all of these things.” So even if, using HR as an example… HR is very much like marketing in the sense that there’s so many different disciplines and areas of expertise that you can do, and no one person is gonna be an expert at all of those things.

39:18 RS: Right.

39:19 JB: So that’s really important to know that just because you’re really good at the benefits and the total rewards stuff, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re really good at comp planning. That’s a completely different skill set. So, being realistic about the fact that, “Hey, I can’t do all of these things. I’m gonna do everything I can to learn as much, and supplement the things that I don’t know already.” If companies are aware of that, I think that really gives people the opportunity to be more successful and not doubt themselves so much.

39:48 RS: Yes. No, I totally agree. If you were to give advice to someone who’s about to become the first recruiting hire… Or maybe if you could just even go back to Jessica Brody, the first recruiting hire at Crunchbase with nothing but stars in her eyes and a pocket full of miracles, what would you tell her? What advice would you give her?

40:09 JB: Oh, my gosh. You know, I think I was very aware, at the time, the changes that were gonna be occurring in my life. I’d gone from this agency model, where you work non-stop and oftentimes, you’re not gonna see the reward, where you go in-house, and you have this sort of instant gratification of getting to move around to different clients and you have this really compacted experience, and you can say like, “I worked for 14 different startups in San Francisco or in Silicon Valley, and I actually completely grew their teams.” But I think what… The advice that I would give myself with that is, I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew that you sort of make sacrifices ’cause you wanna be so good at this job and you wanna… You feel successful, but be patient with yourself, be kinder to yourself. I think there’s a lot of pressure on you, especially if you’re a one-woman show, that you feel like you’re letting everyone down when you’re not meeting goals.

41:07 RS: Yes.

41:09 JB: And so, I think I would say be gentler to yourself. You’ll be able to see tomorrow, it’s gonna be okay, but enjoy the ride. I think I was fortunate that I have enjoyed the ride and it’s been an incredible experience, but I was really hard on myself.

41:25 RS: I love that, be kinder to yourself. The world’s gonna be mean enough to you, you don’t need to join in the chorus of things telling you you’re not good enough.

41:31 JB: And I think just be okay with making mistakes. You’re doing this thing that you’ve never done in the past, that… The mistakes you make are gonna be really good learning opportunities. And also, this opportunity doesn’t exist elsewhere. I talk about this constantly, but I could have gone to any other startup and, maybe, I would’ve taken on the exact same role, but nothing would have been like the experience that I’ve had at Crunchbase. Again, going to a company that had brand recognition, had candidate pipeline, or that you didn’t have that immediate uphill battle of trying to explain to a candidate what my Joe Schmo startup is.

42:08 RS: Right.

42:09 JB: You know, like we’re re-inventing the world and…

42:11 RS: Yeah, yeah.

42:13 JB: That was an incredible experience.

42:15 RS: Well, we’re creeping up on optimal podcast length here. And I’m really glad for the ways that we veered away from recruiting, ’cause I think it’s really important for people’s development, even if it’s not specifically related to how you interview. But I’m really glad we covered that. Thank you for being here and sharing that with me and being inspiring and being yourself. And good luck… Good luck with the thing over at Crunchbase. And next time you come in, I want to have you and Billy Douglas together, all three of us. And then, I’ll press record and then get out of the way and I’ll let you two do my content for me.

42:47 JB: Just debate everything.

42:48 RS: Yeah, that’ll be perfect.

42:49 JB: Yeah, that’ll be awesome. Thanks for having me. This was super fun.

42:51 RS: Yeah. No, this was a blast. Thank you so much, Jessica. And to all of you out there in podcast land, that just about does it for us here at Talk Talent To Me. I’ve been Rob Stevenson, Jessica Brody has been Jessica Brody, and you’ve all been amazing, talented, wonderful recruiting munchkins. Have a spectacular week and happy hunting.