How to land a job at Upflow? Part 1: Getting that first interview
Aug 29, 2022
Why do tech companies hire?
Tech companies don’t scale teams just because it’s cool. It's costly and highly time-consuming. Tech companies — alike any business — hire because they need to. Period. Behind each job “offer” there is a longing “demand” to fill a burning need. For example, a company like Upflow may need extra talent to foster its growth in the US or develop new key features that will unlock a submarket.
On the other side of the aisle, candidates are just as self-centered. You wouldn’t start searching for a job just to “offer” some kind of premium access to your skillset. You would do so primarily for your own personal interest (higher wage, better work-life balance, etc.). And that’s fine. Everyone’s looking after their best interest!
Now that is said, let me walk you backstage. Understanding what’s going on there is key to increasing the impact of your application.
Thinking about applying? Check out our career page!
Hiring: behind the scenes
So let me present to you who’s involved in hiring and explain what they do.
The hiring manager
Managers hire because they need to get a job done. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. You’ll rarely see a job description clearly state: “We need an extra account executive to close more qualified leads.” Yet, that’s what being an AE at a SaaS company is all about: closing business that’ll stay around for a while. (Remember, we sell subscriptions!)
Instead, you’ll often have lengthy job descriptions listing tons of requirements. Don’t let those wear you out. Chances are that the manager hiring for this AE position needs you to close that extra business so they could hit their quota. (This may sound simple but it isn’t far from the truth — if not close.)
Recruiters help managers hire. As recruiters, our job is to match our company’s needs with yours so we can all walk on this two-way street for months, years, or a lifetime. Whether we work at a startup or agency, recruiters manage multiple positions and process hundreds of applications per week. We know as candidates you can have the impression you’re only one fish in a pond of a million. Let us tell you a secret: standing out isn’t so hard, and we’ll let you in on our in-house tips!
How are applications handled?
Applications are mostly manually handled. It is time-consuming. But we do so to ensure treatment quality.
Now that you know what’s happening behind the scenes, let me tell you a few tips on how to increase your chances to progress to the next level. And how to stand out of the crowd.
How to stand out?
“All my applications have been rejected. I can’t stand out.”
Standing out is not easy. But it’s surely not as hard as you may think it is. Here are good tips. We’ll cover resumes, applications, and cover letters.
There are tons to say on resumes. And I don’t want to flood you with good tips you’ll never remember or need days to dig into. So here are three very simple rules that should get your curriculum higher on the pile.
Make your resume explicit for the role you’re applying for
Recruiters don’t have much time. You can be looking for a new job but have a couple of role options in mind. Just draft as many resumes as there are options you’d like to explore! (No one will know, but you. Except if you plan on applying to multiple roles within the same company — which I do not recommend. It sends contradictory messages to this same recruiter who doesn’t have time.) Highlight the skills and experience relevant to each scenario. Let me give you a personal example. As a graduate, I was a teaching assistant in political philosophy. Though I still highly value this experience, I would never highlight it on my talent acquisition manager resume. But I would should I want to give executives talent acquisition training at Stanford. See?
Making your resume explicit doesn’t mean drafting a 5-page CV. We would actually appreciate the opposite.
Less is more: tease us!
The name says it all. It’s an executive summary, not verbatim. Your resume should be designed as the back cover of that exciting story you’ll tell during the interview. As stated above, we recruiters handle hundreds of resumes every day. We can’t spend minutes — if not more — trying to figure out “why we need to meet you”. If your resume isn’t explicit enough, chances are that we’ll pass. It’s time for you to switch from being over-the-top descriptive to smartly narrative. Not too much, but enough. We love one-pagers!
A simple method will help generate high output from low input: MARAS. It stands for “Mission”, “Actions”, “Results”, and “Acquired Skills”. Let me give you an example. (Winegrowers is fictional. I don’t know what your actual job looks like day-to-day.)
Less is more, you see? What is more comfortable reading: a book with pages packed with tiny characters, no spaces — no air, at all — or one that breathes? You prefer the latter. So do we!
Having a short, impactful resume is great. But having one with perfect grammar and design is much better. Your resume should reflect your craft.
We want craft, not draft
As previously mentioned, recruiters handle dozens of resumes every day. Some are clear, sharp, and well designed, if not elegant. But most are terrible.
First, please, check your grammar. All jobs in the tertiary section require you to communicate (to people or machines, mostly). Any sign of communication skills weakness (e.g. you make countless grammar mistakes) will likely be interpreted as a general weakness from a recruiter’s standpoint. Software engineers, this applies to you as well.
I remember this conversation with the COO and co-founder of a healthcare startup.
Me: “So how do you know if a Java software engineer will be a good fit for your company, or not?”
COO: “I just look at their resume.”
Me: “What do you look at? Academic background? Previous companies?”
COO: “I want to know if they can write stuff that is self-explanatory. And that there are no grammar mistakes.”
Me: “Why precisely?”
COO: “On being self-explanatory, they will leave the company someday. We need their code to outlast them. On grammar, it is just to see how much effort they put into their work. Their CV is the most important piece of work in this seductive phase of landing a new job. If they are careless about it, I have no reason to believe they will put more care into their work.
When we had this conversation, there were not even 20 software engineers working at the company. This startup has since become a unicorn.
Second, likewise, pay attention to details. After having taken care of your grammar, check for visual coherence. Having very little time, recruiters flash-read resumes. You may think that paragraph misalignment, font inconsistency, or color mismatching are details. They are not. When you can only spend instants on a CV, those “details” become hurdles. This mix of Comic Sans MS and Times New Roman painted in rose and red burns the eye. Don’t do it.
Your resume is now state-of-the-art. Time to send your application in!
Applications & Cover letters
Humans don’t fit into boxes. You might feel like your experience or skills may be a bit under set expectations. Don’t worry! Just send us your application anyway and explain why this opportunity makes sense. Cover letters are great for that.
My number one tip on cover letters is simple: do them well or just don’t. It is probably worst to send some kind of spam than nothing. Here are examples of bad cover letters:
The random one: “Madam/Sir, I saw your job posting online. Your company looks cool. I have experience in web development. I’m the best candidate for this role. Call me.” (This one is made up.)
The aggressive one: “I am currently contracting for another company and they have verbally expressed the intent to convert to FTE asap. I want to work at a start-up though because I want the chance to get filthy rich via IPO and stocks. If you like my honesty, email me and I can send an ugly resume.” (This one is real.)
These kinds of cover letters are terrible. How would you react if you received one like this? You probably wouldn’t care much. So do we. Here is a much better one.
The honest one: “Nice to meet you, Antoine. I heard Alex on The Podcast Show. What you guys have achieved in four years with Upflow is remarkable! I know you only hire mid and senior software engineers. I may only have one year of experience, but I have been writing TypeScript code on React and Node for three years. I would very much appreciate it if I could have at least a 20-minute conversation with you. Here’s my number: 01.02.03.04.05”
Of course, as a recruiter, I would take that call with this candidate. They were polite and explained why they would be a good fit.
Now that have those good tips in hand, when should we speak?
Time to put those tips into practice: we’re hiring!
You learned how to take your resume to the next level and write an impactful cover letter. These tips should make you stand out from the crowd and get that first call with a recruiter. You’re closer than 95% of applicants to land a job at Upflow. So come on, and join the fun. Check out upflow.io/careers to see where your next gig is. The Talent Team looks forward to meeting with you.
Who am I?
I’ve been recruiting for top European startups since 2017. I started off as an external tech recruiter. I have been doing talent acquisition at Upflow since late 2021. As Talent Director, I enable and help all hiring managers recruit the right talents across EMEA and the US.