‘You Control Your Career Journey’ — Inspiration and Tips From a Senior Technical Recruiter

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Cynthia Garza and family. Photo courtesy of Indeed.

Photo courtesy of Indeed.

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June 15, 2024 at 2:16PM UTC

Cynthia Garza, a Senior Technical Recruiter who helps people get Data Science roles at Indeed, knows how people land and thrive in jobs — that, after all, is her job. And Garza knows that excelling in these areas means taking charge.

“You control your career journey,” she tells us. “Never expect someone else, including your own manager, to define and drive your career path. If there’s something you’re interested in, find a way to get involved, seek out a mentor in that area, volunteer for projects outside of your work area, and don’t stop learning.”

This may seem like straightforward advice, but how exactly can you take charge of — and grow — your career? Well, for starters, Garza tells us that networking is key. “Attend professional networking events, conferences, and book clubs,” advises Garza. “You never know who you might meet who can help open doors for you.”

Another tip? Apply for that job you have your eye on, even if it seems like a reach. “Studies show that women only apply to jobs where they meet 100% of the requirements while men apply when they only meet 60% of the requirements,” says Garza. “My advice to women is to apply to those roles even if you don’t meet every single requirement.”

We recently spoke with Garza about her advice on applying for, interviewing, and growing careers in her industry. Here’s what she had to say. 

To begin, what is your top advice for acing an interview?

  1. At Indeed, our interviews are meant to be collaborative. This means being comfortable talking through your thought process. We want to understand what you’re thinking, how you approach a problem, and how you reach a solution. Avoid problem-solving in silence.  

  2. Also, be sure to ask your interviewer to clarify a question if you don’t understand. This shows that you want to make sure you answer the question correctly.

  3. Finally, try to relax. I understand that interviews are nerve-wracking, but try your best to stay calm. This may mean getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing ahead of time. 

On the other hand, what are your biggest tips for what NOT to do during an interview?

  1. Don’t go into an interview without doing any research. Have an understanding of what the organization does. With so much information available online, there’s no excuse for being unprepared.

  2. With virtual interviewing being common practice, don’t leave stacks of dirty dishes, piles of laundry, or a messy bedroom in camera view. If possible, blur your background and do your best to reduce background noise.  

  3. Don’t fail to ask questions. You’re interviewing us just as much as we are interviewing you. Consider a few questions that are important to you. This shows interviewers that you’re curious about and interested in the role. 

  4. Do not talk over or interrupt your interviewer. I realize this is sometimes difficult in a virtual environment; however, if an interviewer is talking, they’re often providing hints that may guide your technical interview. You don’t want to miss out on those hints. 

  5.  Don’t be late unless there’s an emergency. It shows poor time management and a lack of respect for the interviewer. Especially for tech interviews, every minute is valuable, and starting late puts you at a big disadvantage. 

What’s your go-to interview question for all candidates?  

My go-to question that I ask every candidate is a two-part question. I always ask, “What was it about this specific job description that motivated you to apply, and why the interest in Indeed?”  

It’s always great when I hear their excitement about the role and elaborate on how their experience matches the requirements. When I ask about Indeed, I want to hear their passion either about Indeed, being part of a mission-driven organization, or simply an appreciation for what we do: helping people get jobs! 

What are the top three qualities you look for when you’re interviewing a candidate?

I recruit specifically for Data and Product Scientists at Indeed. We seek the following specific qualities/skills in order to be successful in these roles: 

  1. Statistical thinking/curiosity

  2. Communication skills and the ability to communicate with a technical and non-technical audience

  3. Technical acumen (i.e., coding, building machine learning models, A/B Testing, etc.)

How do you suggest candidates prepare for an interview at Indeed?

At Indeed, we work hard to ensure candidates are prepared for their interviews by providing an Interview Preparation Pack. This document outlines what to expect and how best to prepare.  My first suggestion is to read the entire document, and don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter follow-up questions if you are unsure. I always appreciate the follow-up questions — it shows me that they’re preparing and being thorough.  

In addition to interviewing, we hear from many women on how the application process itself is challenging. How do you suggest women get through automated systems?

It’s important to know that not all companies have automated systems. At Indeed, we review every application that comes through. But, whether recruiters have an automated or manual process, it’s imperative that your resume aligns with the job description and requirements.  

Often, job descriptions are written by the hiring manager. Use the job description as a guide when you’re writing your resume. It’s important to tailor your resume to match the needs of the role. I’m not suggesting being dishonest about your skills, but, rather, you should discuss how your experience aligns with the requirement. 

Finally, as a recruiter, what are three things about your company you always make sure to highlight when talking to a candidate? 

  1. Our work-life balance benefits from unlimited paid time off and “You Days.” You Days give employees an extra day off every month to unplug and focus on mental health.  

  2. Indeed’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, and belonging. We have 10 Inclusion Resource Groups (IRGs), which are made up of passionate advocates and allies promoting a more inclusive workspace. A few are: The Asian Network, LatinX in Tech, Black Inclusion Group, Parents and Caregivers, Veterans and Allies, and Women at Indeed

  3. Indeed recently began offering Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) as a way to reward employees who contribute to the long-term success of Indeed. Our RSUs are stock shares in our parent company, Recruit Holdings, which is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

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