Hi there, please tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? What do you like to do for fun?
I'm Esther, a 24 year-old who still feels like I just graduated college, because Covid took away all my post-college self-realization quarter-life-crisis time away! I enjoy travel, snowboarding during the 2 months of winter in Southern California, eating yummy foods or finding new cafes and drinking cold brew with my lovely friends, planning weddings, and gymming!
Can you tell us what you do as a Executive Recruiting Ops Coordinator at Pinterest for those who are unfamiliar?
I support the entire Executive Recruiting team for Pinterest, which is the team in charge of hiring C-level executives for our company. On the day to day, I handle all administrative and operative tasks such as scheduling interviews, creating executive job profiles, sending merch to accepted candidates, all the way to helping train and onboard executives joining our company.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
I graduated with a degree in Biology (and English for fun), hoping to pursue medical school, and eventually become a physician. Once I graduated, and had a moment of peace to myself, I looked at the impending 6+ years of schooling and 80 hour work weeks, patient-care horror stories, as well as the broken state of the American healthcare system, and decided I wanted to take a year off to really see if this was what I wanted to commit the rest of my life to.
Bringing it up to my parents was incredibly difficult, as I'd told them about my dream to become a doctor since I was 1. In Korean culture, you pick an item during your first birthday party as a fun activity to represent your future blessings/career, and out of the
1) dollar bill (wealth, finance), 2) stethoscope(health, doctor) 3) string (long life) 4) ruler or pen (studious/lawyer), I chose the stethoscope.
But ultimately, I think they believed in my work ethic and just genuinely wanted me to be happy.
I took the year prior to Covid (3/2020) to explore everything: I student-taught, worked as an assistant at a law office, wedding-planned, and even looked into Christian ministry. Each experience was fun, and definitely taught me a lot of valuable lessons, but none of them really were helping solve the root issue of trying to figure out what I genuinely saw myself doing for years to come. When covid hit, I took the first job I could find and worked at a tiny Korean window film company of 4 people, worked my way up through almost 100% raises and up to a managerial position within a year, and then began searching for jobs in Tech.
I knew that my goal was just to start at a company with recognition, so that I could gain as much experience, connections, and knowledge I could before moving on. And I ended up loving the process, I loved my first team at Pinterest, my manager, my partners, my schedule, my work-life balance, the pay, the benefits, and even the prestige of working for such a wonderful, well-known company.
As of this month, I was promoted from supporting the Business Recruiting Team, to the Executive Recruiting Team, and I love it so far!
What programs & tools do you use everyday for your work? What do you like/dislike about these programs?
Recruiting tools: Greenhouse, Goodtime, Google (Gdrive, Gmail, etc.)
Greenhouse is a lot more complicated than it needs to be, but it definitely is the one-stop shop for everything within Recruiting, so our team tolerates it.
Goodtime is a wonderful scheduling tool that all the coordinators within Pin use to help request availability from candidates, schedule interviews, and troubleshoot any recruiting/interview needs. This makes scheduling 100% faster, easier, and much more manageable. It's definitely in beta, so there are a lot of features that I feel could be improved, but at a base-level, I don't know if I'd love my job as much as I do if everything were manual in Google Calendar or Greenhouse.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
1. Resume: Use the resume templates you can find; don't add frills or large margins or emojis or useless information (such as any unrelated work experience or projects). Add in as much metrics as you can, and always highlight performance if possible (I even specifically put in a separate highlights portions to emphasize that I out-performed my hiring class, and was promoted in 6 months, etc.).
Don't be afraid to send your resume to trusted friends and mentors to have another set of eyes look at it. Recruiters only spend less than 1 min glancing over your resume, so make sure that these new pairs of eyes are looking with a fresh perspective, as if a recruiter is doing so.
2. LinkedIn: connecting and getting used to asking the right people the right questions is always the next step. Discover your niche area of interest, send connection requests, and messages introducing yourself and that you want to learn more. Hop on 15-min coffee chats over VC and ask them how they got to where they are, what their day-to-day is like, and if they have any advice. Ask them to glance at your resume, or what types of key words to look for. Ask them about their goals and dreams, and whether or not they intend to continue pursuing a career, or if they have any interest in anything else. Create genuine, honest channels of connections on anything: similar interests, same hometowns, schools, experiences, music taste, foods, travel destinations; anything. One of them is bound to stick, and one of them is bound to submit a referral on your behalf (keep in mind they might even be happy to since some companies provide referral bonuses). The worst thing anyone can do is say they're too busy, that you're not the right fit, or just not respond at all. You just shrug it off, and keep on messaging!
Avoid wasting too much time on applying to every random job posting; Recruiting operations can actually always see what one single candidate has applied to. Meaning, have intention behind the jobs you're applying for (aka one candidate applying to a bunch of entry-level finance, sales, engineering, data, marketing positions and constantly getting rejected for having "not enough experience" looks incredibly bad, while a candidate who applied 3x for a similar Marketing job each time, but was rejected for different reasons such as "compensation unaligned" or "looking for a remote opportunity" is always a better look.
3. Interviewing skills: Always treat every person you touch with respect and kindness. (Candidates are nice and flexible 99% of the time, but the 1% rude/inflexible/late/no-show candidates are definitely taken note of.) The initial hiring manager screen is usually the most important. Be aware that HM's are screening for: experience/qualities, team fit, and manager-employee fit. You can be the most amazing engineer, but if you do not reflect the values of the company or the team, there is a large chance you won't make it past that first round.
Take brief notes on the company history, values, goals, and recent news/headlines of 1-2 years. Know why you're interviewing for this specific company in particular. Search up 10 questions that are commonly asked in your positions interview types, and prepare solid answers. Use STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or CAR (my preference, Context, Action, Result) method when answering behavioral questions, and practice out-loud, multiple times to people who have no idea what you're talking about, so you start to hone in on the important points, and weed out any random details that might confuse the interviewer.
Search through the interviewers' profiles, and prepare 1-2 questions (1 about a similarity you might share an interest in, and another official question about their career; "What is your day-to-day like?" "What are some strengths and weaknesses of this team?" "Do you have any advice for me as I pursue a career in ___?").
Show, not tell: You can sit there and tell an interviewer that you're a problem-solver, that you're really quick on your feet, and have so much experience in customer-service. But, actually, this is such a dry answer and generic, to the point you'll be forgotten. While rehearsing interview answers/behavioral scenarios, show interviewers how you think; why you made the decision you did, and why you didn't choose another decision; emphasize time-restraints and how long it took you to come up with a solution, and the words/actions you took to make sure your customer got a great experience. This will make you memorable, seem more intelligent, and show off all the skills you have without directly saying it.
Send thank you notes!
Skills: Anyone in recruiting needs people-skills, organization skills, know how to multi-tasking/pivoting quickly, be quick-thinking/ have a problem-solving mindset, juggle XFN partnerships, and communicative. These are easily transferable, but you also need to find a way during interviews to show, not tell, your interviewers that you possess all these qualities.
Tools: LinkedIn was my main tool, but when I found job postings that I was interested in and noticed that a friend worked there or had mutual connections, I would actually reach out to them via text or Facebook Messenger because that is way more personable than a LinkedIn message (and honestly, our inboxes tend to get drowned in these random messages anyway).
Youtube some sample questions to hear how some people answer generic questions and try to find a way to fit your narrative in a similar structure.
Ask friends/family/peers to help you with your interview prep, rehearse to them, ask for feedback.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Organized, kind, and clever
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
Satisfying: ease of work + work life balance; Nothing in recruiting will ever be as emergent or high-stakes as surgery. My manager would always reassure us that making mistakes is what makes us great, and thankfully we aren't doctors who'll get sued because someone missed an interview or we sent the wrong document.
I log on at 8 and end my day precisely at 4. Often times, there are days so quiet I can do whatever I want within that time frame as long as I'm checking my emails and getting my work done at the end of the day.
My team (which may be specific to my team only) was extremely supportive and never competitive, and we often offered help and took on extra work when we had extra time. We collaborate on projects together and always give each other credit, and even partners outside my direct team would always adopt a kind, flexible, and genuine personality, because our company values project that.
Difficult: Although this wasn't an issue to me, some may see RC'ing as a pointless or a simple entry-level job. It may seem a bit repetitive, but I genuinely enjoyed being paid well to do something I'm extremely good at.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
At the end of the day, a job is a job. Asian-American culture needs a passion or an ultimate dream at the end of a pursuit. We were told doctors always need a patient/disease they want to cure, or lawyers need a case/law they want to conquer. But as I grow older, that's really not the case. Sometimes, a job is a job, and sometimes it's okay to pursue something that may seem externally mediocre, but gets the bills paid and gives you the time to enjoy your life, enjoy the people in this season, and enjoy your hobbies. It doesn't have to be this grand, majestic dream.
I love my job; I don't wake up to birds singing and rainbows dancing on my face every time I sit down to schedule an interview, or speak to my team, but I am so content and never bitter, resentful, or tired to the point that I want to quit or hate my life. I have a great work-life balance so that I can gym, spend time with my family and friends, never miss a birthday party or wedding, and still have alone time to myself to aimlessly scroll through TikTok or pluck my eyebrows. I can still take days off to travel, or even just travel wherever I want so that I can work remotely. All my debt and bills are paid off, and I can leisurely buy a meal for myself or book a flight without having to rearrange things behind the scenes. I save, invest, and look forward to starting a family, and not having to worry so much about finances. I give my parents allowance and great gifts, and my friends great birthday or Christmas gifts. And I am never going to look back.
I love my job!
Best advice you've received/heard?
That everything works out in the end. Every experience is a learning opportunity. There is never a right or wrong answer, your life molds and adjusts to every door you walk through, and it's constantly improving, changing, and learning.