Welcome back to The Phone Screen! For this installment, we're getting to know Jenna Aronow, who has held various roles across the talent spectrum, working on both recruiting and diversity efforts for companies like Patreon, Chartboost, and Humble Bundle. Recently, she founded Aronow Recruiting, where she brings her unique expertise to growing businesses.
How did you get into recruiting?
I sort of fell into recruiting, I went to college for American Sign Language and worked as an interpreter for several years. I was looking for a change of scenery and a friend who worked in Silicon Valley told me I would make a great recruiter. After all, I liked talking to people and was already interpreting technical courses, so I was familiar with software and hardware engineering. I showed up at my first company with a LinkedIn seat and no idea what I was doing. That turned out for the best, as I ended up learning how to recruit for engineers directly from the engineers themselves, and those habits have helped me throughout my career!
What are your favorite tools in your recruiting stack?
I love tools that help me personalize my messaging and let potential candidates know I’m reaching out to them specifically instead of just anyone with the title of ‘Software Engineer.’ I use ContactOut and Entelo to find email addresses, avoiding the InMail pile whenever possible. I also just started using Bonjoro to send quick, custom video messages which have been getting very positive responses.
What are your most successful hiring channels?
I use LinkedIn Recruiter as a jumping off point to quickly grab some profiles and do a calibration with my hiring managers before I begin reaching out. Once I have a good feel of exactly what I’m looking for, I dig into my resources—GitHub, Reddit, college commencement books from programs I know are good matches, speaker lists from conferences—I love hunting for the right candidates in unconventional ways! It also gives you something great to talk about in your initial outreach.
What’s an example of a recruiting campaign, tactic, or hack you used that was really effective? What were the results?
I was doing a search for hardware engineers who needed a very specific knowledge set. I did a census of our current team and found that more than 50% of them had taken the same graduate-level course at Stanford over a number of years. I then found all the capstone projects from students for that course, and made two hires through the search.
Which recruiting metric do you focus on the most? How do you calculate it?
It’s a balance between time to close and candidate fit—some of my very first hires from five years ago are still at the same company and have moved into management. It’s vital to identify and move candidates through the pipeline quickly, but also to make sure you won’t have to backfill the same position in six months because they’re not a good match long-term.
If you could change one thing about recruiting, what would it be?
There is such a negative stigma about recruiters, especially in Silicon Valley. I think a lot of it comes from engineers who are inundated with emails about jobs that aren’t a fit—I’d be frustrated, too! I would love to make recruiting more personal and have candidates feel that we as recruiters are their allies and partners in the process from start to finish.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other recruiters?
Never forget what a big deal it is to interview! As a recruiter, you may talk to 50 candidates in a day but each one of them are contemplating a major life change to a new company, maybe even in a new city or country. Taking a little extra time to answer questions, explain transportation options to help them picture their daily commute, or pointing out a restaurant they might like near the office can make somewhere new feel like home—and give your company a big advantage when it comes time to close!