Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
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Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

With initiatives like the Alteryx ADAPT Program, we’re passionate about upskilling the workforce. But how do you leverage your new skills to land your dream job? The Alteryx Talent Acquisition team joins us to share tips on why you should showcase data literacy in your interview, how to leverage your network to foster career beneficial connections, and how to navigate negotiations like a pro.





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Episode Transcription

MADDIE: 00:00

Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. [music] I'm Maddie Johannsen. And on this episode, we're going to be talking about landing your next job. And not just a data and analytics job, but we thought we'd make it broad and talk about jobs in general. So we're going to be sharing tips on how to make the most of an interview, proper etiquette when working through the recruitment process, and why data literacy can be your secret weapon in helping you stand out among other candidates. Now, many of our listeners already find themselves in an analytics career, but this episode will be great to share with any job seekers out there or anyone who is looking to switch things up. So if you know anyone who's in this position, be sure to send it to them. When covering a topic like careers, I knew I could count on the trusty talent acquisition team here at Alteryx. So I sat down with Jamie Lewis, senior program manager of talent acquisition.

JAMIE: 00:54

I oversee our early in career programs here at Alteryx. So essentially, that means I help hire for our internship and recent grad opportunities. This generation is our future leaders. They're our future changemakers. In terms of me, personally, I am also a certified yoga teacher.

MADDIE: 01:13

That's so cool. I didn't know that, actually. We'll have to do yoga sometime. We were also joined by Amanda Yates who oversees the talent acquisition team for all things technology at Alteryx.

AMANDA: 01:25

So we do all of the engineering, product, data and analytics, innovation labs, information security, IT roles across the globe.

MADDIE: 01:38

And last but not least, Matt Millward. Matt and I started around the same time at Alteryx and was one of the first people I met from the London office.

MATT: 01:46

So my name is Matt Millward. I'm based out of EMEA HQ, which is in London. I've been with Alteryx for approaching three years now. And so my team are responsible for helping Alteryx hire associates and grow across EMEA and APAC. So my team predominantly focuses around the sales, sales engineering, and everything else within that space.

MADDIE: 02:07

Awesome. Yeah, I'm excited to have you here, Matt. Let's get started. I want to kick this off with talking about job searches. And this is something that you guys are going to have such a cool perspective on for our audience. And we all know that job searches are so stressful and obviously even more so these days during the pandemic. We're seeing this huge wave of unemployment, a scarcity of internships for university students, and just overall that uncertainty that we hear so much about day in and day out. So for our conversation today, I'd love to give our audience some tips on how to navigate this entire process. And maybe to start, let's take a peek behind the curtain. As professionals building that global workforce, I'd love to hear from each of you, maybe to start, what you look for in candidates across the board.

JAMIE: 03:03

I think from an early in career perspective, the most challenging thing is there's this chicken and the egg conversation, right? So students often want to land that first internship, but sometimes the challenge is employers are looking for students who have maybe had prior work experience. And that's not always possible. So oftentimes, what we look for are some of those minimal skills, whether it's in sales or in technology. But outside of some of those baseline skills, some of the behavioral things we're looking for are folks who are curious, maybe people who have grit, who have the ability to learn new skills quickly or on the job. We also look for individuals who are maybe going above and beyond and doing things outside of what's required of them in the classroom because that tends to signal that they're genuinely interested in that subject matter, so that could be personal projects, it could be involvement in student clubs or organizations, whether it's being a member of that organization or being a leader of that student club. And then other things might include hackathons or learn-a-thons or create-a-thons, anything that you're really doing above and beyond, again, that's something that you're personally pursuing and isn't necessarily required of you.

AMANDA: 04:21

We feel the same way within technology that showing that curiosity can show up on a resume in a lot of different ways. And that kind of interest in continued learning is really important because technology is always changing. So we want someone who is curious, who wants to learn new languages or the latest technology, and similar to what Jamie said, that may be work-related or even show up in personal passion projects. But taking courses on your own even as you're five, six years into your career but just because you wanted to learn something new goes a long way. I think we also look for determination. So getting a project across the finish line can require grit and determination, so we look for someone who wants to see their project come to the public and come to completion. But also on the flip side of that is some flexibility. And it can be really frustrating to be in the middle of a dev project and need to switch directions, but that does sometimes happen. So looking for that combination from behavioral skill set is important to us as well. And then just someone passionate and eager, motivated but also friendly, and could work on a team are other important soft skills that we look for.

MADDIE: 05:51

So yeah, I know, speaking from my job searches in the past, you can sometimes send off resumes and have no idea what's happening beyond that point, and the waiting can really be tough for candidates. So I'm curious about the etiquette that candidates should have with recruiters and hiring managers. And let's say that I'm a candidate, and I totally smashed all the challenges that you guys put me through, that you guys loved me in the interview. I just totally crushed it. But let's say maybe I am really aggressive, and I keep on reaching out, and I'm pestering you guys, at what point is that an overstep?

JAMIE: 06:28

Yeah, I think, Maddie, it's interesting because, on the recruiting side, I think you want to demonstrate interest and a desire to connect, make that connection with someone internally at the organization. But it's tough if you're applying to multiple roles, especially at a time like now where unemployment is at a all-time high, and there are fewer opportunities available in the marketplace. There's this fine line between demonstrating engagement and interest and stalking, right? And I think it's hard to navigate the in-between. One thing I would say is that intentionality is really key here, like narrowing your scope. So at least in the early in career space, it's not uncommon for us to get thousands of applicants to any one position, so sometimes it's nearly impossible for us to get back to every single individual that applies to the job. So I think anytime, you can dig into your network and maybe identify connections or people that you may know mutually within an organization, and you can reach out to those individuals within your network and express a desire to connect and learn more about the company. Maybe position it as an informational interview with no obligation for the other person. Sometimes that's an easier approach. I think the biggest challenge that we see is sometimes folks get a hold of a giant mail list, or they may mass message a group of people with the same exact message, for example, on the recruiting team, and we're a small group of folks. We all talk, right? And so I think those kinds of tactics are a lot less effective. And so I would really encourage folks to be intentional in who they are reaching out to and what they're asking for specifically, as opposed to that just being an interview conversation.

MATT: 08:19

Yeah, I think that it also depends where you're at in the process, right? So as Jamie mentioned, you leverage your network application stage, absolutely, once you're into the interview process and I think be intentional around setting expectations. So it's absolutely fine to ask someone, "When can I expect feedback?" and let them guide you on what that [inaudible] should look like because it may be 24 hours, or it may be something that's going to take a little bit longer, but at least you will come off the phone or leave the interview with a better understanding of what that time frame actually looks like, and then you have a preset expectation between the two parties of when they can expect that. And then it's around respecting that timeline. If the timeline then slips, then it's fine to reach out and ask for an update. But I would always encourage people to try and understand what the time frame looks like on the company side, so you can adhere to that, basically.

AMANDA: 09:16

Yeah, definitely. The only thing I would add, Madeline, is sometimes the behavior and how you treat people throughout the interview process can be a reflection of who you might be as an employee. And so sometimes our TA coordinators or talent acquisition coordinators may get some grumpy responses and some negative behavior thrown their way, and that can be a reflection, in my mind, as how you might act as an employee. So we just ask that people be respectful throughout the process.

MADDIE: 09:52

So let's say that you don't get the job, now, what? Right? So what could candidates do during that downtime?

MATT: 10:00

I think what's important here is to try and control the controllables, not to be too cliche. But your CV is kind of your CV, so try and get feedback as to where it was that you actually fell down and then try and look at that as a learning process, try and redesign your answers to better illustrate your experience. So think back to the interview. There'll be natural cues where maybe you come off the call, or you leave the interview, and you think, "I didn't give them enough information here," or, "I could tell that the answer that I gave them here wasn't what they were looking for." So trying to note down that in your interview process or if you get feedback on these points. So just think about how you can restructure that answer to maybe give them a better understanding of the project that you worked on or a better understanding of this strategic imperative that you were part of so that people can start to really understand the narrative of the experience that you've had. So I would say get the feedback, work on what they've said, but also just be introspective, think about how that interview went, and then try and look at how you can elevate your answers, so hopefully, you make a better impression the next time.

AMANDA: 11:10

Yeah, absolutely. And I think from a technical perspective, we really love when we see candidates who really want to work at Alteryx, and they take the feedback and then go take a course or do some additional learning and really follow up and sharpen their skills in that particular language. That is so appealing to us. Just like Matt said, you've heard that feedback. You took the time to improve on that, and you're still interested and want to come back and work on our core products. That's very appealing as well.

JAMIE: 11:43

Yeah, just to echo on what Amanda said, I think maybe focus on ways you can upskill yourself in between the job search. So how can you be productive at home? I think interviewing is very much a learned skill. And it can be challenging for a lot of people. And that's normal. It's an imperfect way of evaluating talent or a fit for an organization, but unfortunately, it's what the majority of us are using today. And so to Matt's point, I think doing some self-reflection, maybe asking for feedback - some employers are able to share more feedback than others - taking that feedback to heart, maybe identifying where it was you didn't share enough or doing some self-reflection and identifying a different example or a different opportunity that may have been better to share in that moment to highlight your skills and abilities. And then to Amanda's point, there's massive open online courses now that you can take, some of which might be free. There are certificate programs. I know Alteryx made a program available called ADAPT, which is helping to upskill our workforce and encouraging people to enhance their data and analytics skill set. And so all of these things not only would make yourself a better or more interesting candidate to Alteryx but for a lot of other organizations too.

MADDIE: 13:05

Definitely. And the ADAPT program, I love that you shouted that out as well. We've had so many people sign up for that program. Essentially, what it is is it's a way for people out there who have been affected by COVID-19, and maybe they were furloughed or laid off, but they can learn Alteryx and get a free Alteryx license to upskill themselves and find their next role in analytics or data science. And it's just an amazing program. And we'll be sure to link to that in the show notes. And I would love to hear from our audience as well on the show notes page just some cool certification programs that maybe you have found helpful in your job search. So we'll leave that open for discussion and comments on the community page. But yeah, personally, I love connecting with people and building relationships, but at the same time, I think there's this part of me that's hesitant to reach out to those people in my network out of the blue. So going back to, I think, what Jamie-- you brought up about reaching out to your connections on LinkedIn. Sometimes it can feel super awkward. And you mentioned the informational interview and how there's no obligation. I'm curious if you have any tips for tapping into your network for opportunities and how you maybe position yourself on LinkedIn that you're looking for opportunities and how you go about those conversations that might feel a little awkward and out of the blue.

MATT: 14:27

So I think the most important thing around trying to leverage your network, in my opinion, anyways, is to really do it with intent. So it's not enough to just pop someone a message that-- you will know a differing amount depending on who they are. And you say, "Hey, I'm interested in working at Alteryx. Can you introduce me to whoever's the relevant person?" I think you're much more likely to get an advocate if you do it with intent. So pop someone a message in your network and say, "This is why want to work at Alteryx. I see that this specific job is available. Can you point me in the direction of the right person?" or, "Can you facilitate an introduction?" So give them a bit more reason to help you because if you just say, "Hey, can you point me in the direction of the right person?" isn't going to be enough to-- everyone's busy, right? So I think the important thing is to think about your approach, do it with intent, do a bit of research, and prep even for that short hundred character message because that's going to be much more likely to get engagement back, basically.

AMANDA: 15:34

I definitely agree with Matt that keeping it personal-- just like recruiters, when we reach out to candidates to see if they might be interested in a particular role, and we give the same advice back to network. So it is great in these really challenging times. Both Indeed and LinkedIn and some other boards have signs up where you can do the #ReadyToWork or #OpenToWork with a profile sticker so that it shows that you have been impacted either through layoffs or furloughs because of the current COVID situation. And I have seen a huge uptick in people reaching out with those profiles. And it does kind of pull at the heartstrings. This is something that we're going through as an entire global society, and we want to help these people get back to work. But because we're getting so many of them, I think making it personal and specific will help you rise to the top of the list.

JAMIE: 16:40

Yeah. And one other thing I'll add is I think the networking piece doesn't always have to be relevant only when you're searching for a job, right? And so I think, Maddie, that could make those connections and reach-outs a little bit easier because I know I personally struggle with tapping someone that maybe I haven't spoken to in years or that I graduated college with, but we have really lost touch. And then asking them for time, or, "Could you refer me to this job?" when we have really lost that connection can be a bit uncomfortable, at least in the beginning. So I think don't be afraid to reach out. Sometimes you may have to reach out more than once because we are all busy, right? So maybe someone's reading your message in the midst of a meeting, intends to follow up, sets their phone down, and then forget to go back to it. And so I think maybe sending one or two messages, folks shouldn't be afraid of but also being grateful, right? Say, "Hey, let's be personal. Let's acknowledge we haven't connected in a while. If you're open to it, could we meet for coffee?" or, "Could we connect over video chat for a few minutes? I'd love to learn more about your role," or, "I'm very curious about X industry. What advice might you have for me?" And then if that conversation turns into, "Hey, there's an open role at XY and Z company, I'd love to refer you for that." Sometimes those things will come up more naturally, and you may not have to ask for it in that initial outreach message, which could potentially turn some folks off depending on what the connection is.

MATT: 18:18

Yeah. I think just one last point to add on that as well is just don't take it personally as well. So don't be afraid to try and leverage your network. But just because it may not work with one individual, don't take that personally, and don't let that guide your behavior in the future. Because, like we just mentioned, someone may have just read your message mid-meeting, every intent to respond, but for whatever reason, they haven't. So just if it doesn't work the first time, then don't let that discourage you from trying to leverage your network in the future.

MADDIE: 18:47

Totally. And I think that this definitely speaks to the concept of seizing the moment as in-- let's say that you do connect with somebody who can help you get ahead, at that very basic level, like we mentioned before, it can be hard to know what to even say when you have the ear of that potential referral or that potential-- maybe you're looking for a mentor or career coach or just that person that might be holding the keys to unlocking that next step in your career. How do you market yourself without just randomly reading off of your resume? How do you start the conversation and asking to learn more and market yourself in a way that kind of lets that person, the career coach, really want to help you, right? Instead of saying like, "Hey, I need a job, and I have all of these things," how can you really make them get to that point on their own?

AMANDA: 19:45

Well, I think it's important. It's just like practicing an elevator speech, and you should practice that. I think a lot of people have kind of gone through their career sort of heads down without sometimes a lot of intention, and now, they have this open space and may want to make a change. So I think we would look for you to have really succinct introduction on where you've been, what you've accomplished, and where you're headed, and then people will be much more likely to help you make those connections.

JAMIE: 20:20

Yeah. And I think similarly to what you'll hear about the mentor-mentee relationship is that when possible, you want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship, whether it's something that you can execute now or in the future, right? So instead of approaching that interaction or outreach with, "What can you do for me now and in this moment?" "What can we do for each other?" So I know this has come up, but spending time when you are doing that outreach to understand that person's background, maybe offering some input, talking a little bit about your background, and then ideally, that conversation would flow fairly naturally, and you could allow that person to ask questions about your background and/or experiences or your interest. And then the dialogue could be back and forth instead of just launching into this elevator pitch, "And have you seen my resume? And I've done research on your website, and I'm interested in this job." So I think just sometimes pausing, slowing down, giving the other person an opportunity to ask questions or interject, and being curious about them will help with that.

MADDIE: 21:27

Yeah, I think that definitely makes sense. And I love the idea of having that two-way conversation. And this wouldn't be Alter Everything if we didn't talk about data a little bit. So I want to bring in this concept of data literacy and how that can help you thrive in any sort of interview or any sort of conversation, maybe not just for an analytics career. So I'd love to hear some tips from you guys on how and why you should be able to have that data literacy, so that way, you can speak to your performance in those conversations.

MATT: 22:03

Sure. So for me, I mean, I recruit a lot of salespeople. So they should all be very hot on their data, right? If you're a salesperson, you want to be able to talk about what your target was and how you achieved that target and what percent, obviously, of that target you were but I think as well as to go above and beyond that. So if you can talk about, "My target was X and I achieved Y. And here's the data I used to get me there," then that becomes a really interesting conversation to have. So if you can talk a bit about, "So I broke down my work, and I broke down my activities, and I realized that I needed to create X amount of pipeline, which usually come from Y amount of opportunities, which mean I have to do this amount of outreach," then that shows someone that's really taken ownership of their business. So they're not just being successful as a byproduct of being told how to behave by management, but that's clearly someone that is invested in themselves. They've sat down. They've looked at the numbers. They've worked out how the data can guide them to success. So I think salespeople can often talk a lot about, "This is my number and this is what I hit," and they feel like that's enough of a conversation around that. And obviously, if you've overachieved your number, then that's a great data point to have. But I think, really, being able to talk about how you got there and how you used the data to drive you to that number really elevates that discussion around yourself as a potential hire for Alteryx.

JAMIE: 23:32

Yeah. And I think, Maddie, I remember specifically being in school and taking math classes. And my dad is an engineer, and so he always pushed me down that path. And I remember sharing with him, "I don't like math. I don't like data. I don't like metrics. I'm not great at those things." And so I pursued this HR career, thinking I wouldn't have to be good at those things. But I strongly believe that in almost any role that exists today, you do need to be data literate. And I think being able to quantify some of your experiences, being able to look at that data and draw some useful insights and do some analytics there to either signal to yourself that you're doing all the right things or identify gaps and areas that you need to improve to make your team more efficient, I think, is a hugely important skill for anyone to have in the workplace now. And if that's not something you're comfortable with, I think spending time during a job search process or when you have downtime to get more comfortable with that will help to elevate your career and potentially open new doors. The other thing I would say about it is you can't just leverage the data, right? You do have to understand what that data is telling you and be able to then share back that story in order for it to be effective. So those are just some things that came to mind that ironically, I found myself pursuing this path because I thought I could avoid data and math and metrics, and here we are today. And it's just become wildly important across the board.

AMANDA: 25:12

I absolutely agree. I've been in a lot of different industries as a recruiter and obviously across finance, even HR, as Jamie said. But even in advertising and marketing, being able to identify what your creative efforts have done, "Did you provide the level of service that you said you would to the client?" it's across the board, and it will increase your level of skill regardless of what position you're in. I really believe the art and science, the storytelling and the data goes hand in hand, being able to tell a story around the numbers and where that will take the company, being able to predict or forecast based on that information.

JAMIE: 26:05

And Jamie, I can actually relate to you as well. I was not a math person or a numbers person in college. And then coming into this role, I just totally fell in love with Alteryx and data. And I love how this has really opened up my mind to other opportunities within Alteryx and helps me get to where I am now where I get to just spend my days talking with people about data on this podcast. So you never know what's going to happen if you allow yourself to become data literate, and you learn those skills that are so crucial for any role. So let's say that you do land the job. You get an offer. I would love to ask you guys, because I know that this is top of mind for everybody, and this is something that's so tricky to navigate, what is the secret to opening up the conversation for negotiations when it comes to compensation package?

MATT: 26:57

So in my opinion, I think it's important to own the conversation and own the conversation early. You don't want to get to the point where you're having an offer extended, and you've never really had that discussion with the recruiter. So I think it's important just to make sure you try and have that conversation early so that you can set expectations around what you're looking for, and obviously, the recruiter can set expectations around what their budget looks like. So you make sure that that's loosey aligned at an early stage. But I think own the conversation, have a plan of what you are looking for and be clear about that, and then stick to the plan. So I would say set expectations early, and then the company would do its best to give you a good offer that you're going to be able to accept.

JAMIE: 27:48

Yeah, that's a great question, Maddie, and we get it kind of frequently, especially from folks in the early in career space. I think my first piece of advice as a woman to other women that are out there or even folks early in their career is always to negotiate. I think sometimes there is a fear that in doing so, maybe an organization might judge you or be disappointed in some way or even, God forbid, rescind the offer. I think that's a fear that I hear pretty often. But it's definitely a misconception. I've been in the recruiting and HR world a very long time, and I've never seen that happen. But I think my advice to someone who is entering into a negotiation would be to be thoughtful and intentional about your approach to that. So when possible, I think having an in-person conversation is always beneficial. I think doing your research - so much of this kind of information around salary and packages is now available online through resources like Glassdoor and even other websites - that can be really helpful when negotiating an offer. And then the last thing I would say is don't be afraid to share information with your recruiter. So in theory, this is your advocate for the organization. They're going to do their best to get you the best offer that they can and the offer that you deserve. But if there are things that are really important to you, if relocation is required, and you need assistance there, the other thing is maybe if you need to leave an organization - there's a clawback of some kind that's requiring you to pay back tuition reimbursement or a bonus of sorts - all of that is information and tools that recruiters can use to see what levers we might be able to pull and increase your package or make it more competitive or appealing to you.

JAMIE: 29:41

I guess maybe the only other thing I would add is that it took me a long time to learn this, but I think it's really important to know yourself as an individual, as a human, what is important to you, and what is going to make you happy in the next step or a career. And I think initially, for me, personally, I thought that was money and my earning potential. And I think as I've grown up and spent time at different organizations, I now know that there are other things. Obviously, compensation will always be important to some degree because it's how we're surviving and supporting family members and doing those kinds of things. And oftentimes, it can be hard to look beyond the numbers, right? But there may be moments where it makes sense to take a hit to your base salary. But what you're gaining in that is maybe a larger bonus or opportunity for growth or to work for a manager who is more supportive of you and is going to help elevate you so that you can grow into that next stage of your career. But I think that's something that can oftentimes be overlooked when you're going through the new search for a career, and you maybe have one or multiple offers on the table. [music]

MADDIE: 31:04

Thank you guys so much for joining me. This has been such an insightful conversation. And I'm sure our audience will find it really beneficial to them in their job search.

JAMIE: 31:12

Thanks for having us, Maddie. This was fun.

MATT: 31:14

Thank you, Maddie. Bye.

AMANDA: 31:15

Thank you, Maddie. This was really fun. And we appreciate you having us on.

MADDIE: 31:21

For more on our ADAPT Program, be sure to check out our show notes at where we'll also link to more free blogs and resources that aim to help you upskill in data literacy, find internships or places to volunteer your analytic skills to help others. And if you've participated in a certification program or online course that was beneficial to you in your job search or career advancement, leave us a comment on the show notes page or share it on social media using #AlterEverythingPodcast. Catch you next time.

This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).
Special thanks to @andyuttley for the theme music track, and @jeho for our album artwork.