• Sofia Sulikowski

Recruiting Transparency

Sharing the process, not the highlight reel

I've been asked "what do you want to do after college?" since the first day of freshman year. The question mainly served as a conversation starter, and neither I nor the asker paid much attention to my "I don't know, but I'm thinking XYZ" answer.

Now, as a rising senior, the question carries more weight. The topic of recruiting surrounds me more and more frequently. Some of my peers already have full-time offers, while others are starting to explore options. The process feels a lot like college apps in high school: don’t-ask-don’t-tell, only share your successes, don’t share your dream school/company lest you get rejected and judged as a failure.

I’m a strong believer in transparency and honesty, though. I learn by discussing experiences and I’ve discovered many cool opportunities through openness with others. Recruiting materials online tend to be no-context, general advice from companies or stories of successful candidates looking back to share their advice from the other side.

Post-success advice in hindsight is simple. Success indicates a strategy worth sharing and offers instant credibility. But by the time someone reaches their goal, many of the failures, mistakes, and daily hard work may have faded from memory or seem too unimportant to share. In my small corner of the internet, I want to change the narrative by sharing in real-time. I'll publish my goals, my efforts, my hopes, my failures, and my successes.

The goal isn't just to push myself from uncomfortable to scared (this final draft sat in Notion, written and unposted, for a month)... Sharing my process and failures will leave a record for self-reflection that may serve as a catalyst for others. Of course, without the results, take everything I publish with a grain of salt. I’m just a senior navigating the full-time recruitment process for the first time.

The resistance to real-time sharing often stems from fear of losing a competitive advantage. What if someone copies my strategy and gets the role? My competitive advantage, though, comes down to dedication and preparation (I'd also say passion, if the word wasn't so cliché). Anyone can leverage the same strategy; there's nothing unique about the approach. So share I will.

The goal: A marketing role at a mid-sized software company, preferably a rotational program or product marketing position.

The dream: HubSpot’s Leadership Rotational Program.

The history (I’ve already failed!): I discovered HubSpot in December 2019 and long story short, I fell in love. I consumed as much of their publicly available content as possible, spoke with 5 current employees to verify what I read, took HubSpot Academy’s inbound marketing course, and applied to their marketing internship in January. Two weeks of interviews later, I received a "Thank you but no" before the final round. Reading the email, I cried over a professional rejection for the first time (and I’d received many many before). On the glass-half-full side, though, the tearful reaction meant I cared enough to be emotionally impacted by the rejection and confirmed I was on the right track.

Thankfully I’m no stranger to submitting multiple rounds of apps before getting a position, club membership, or program acceptance. Everything worth having takes time, dedication, and hard work, and I've spent the last 5 months preparing for attempt #2. I intend to succeed. I know I can add true value to the organization. But I recognize thousands of qualified applicants compete for limited spots, so I might not achieve my envisioned goal. We'll see!

Honorable mentions:

LinkedIn, Dropbox, Marketo, Slack, Buffer, and some larger players like Salesforce and Google have some amazing opportunities that also speak to me.

The Plan:

  • Understand each marketing specialty: speak to one person from each marketing team at HubSpot (there are ~40). I'm about 2/3 of the way through.

  • Similarly, learn from marketers at my other top 5 organizations. Can't have all my knowledge eggs in one basket.

  • Understand the business (attend quarterly earnings calls, do a competitive analysis, take apart the SaaS business model). Essentially answer the questions: how does the company make money? How could I help increase sustainable revenue (from a marketing lens) if I joined the team?

  • Practice interview questions starting one month out (most are out there on Glassdoor... use public resources)

  • Polish my resume and online presence (website overhaul coming soon. The only thing worse than no online presence is an outdated one)

  • Excel at my current role for maximum proven impact

  • Practice visualization (confidence is key)

A demanding but fun plan that forces me to set recruiting priorities and marathon in my chosen direction. Like this blog post, my recruiting journey doesn't have a conclusion...TBD!


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