Office Hours: I’m the Head of Recruiting at Volley – a YC backed Series B startup (we’re hiring!). I’m Adrienne Hatter. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Adrienne Hatter, Head of Recruiting at Volley – the leading developer of voice-controlled gaming and entertainment for smart speaker devices (YC Top Companies '22, YC S18).

Before Volley, I worked briefly in Corporate Law…and quickly realized it wasn’t the “side” of the criminal justice system I wanted to be on; soon after, I transitioned to the reentry space.

I was hired as the third employee at 70 Million Jobs (YC S17), a startup dedicated to connecting employers with a vast, overlooked talent pool: the 70 million Americans (about 1-in-3 adults) with a criminal record. During that time, I helped the nation’s largest employers develop Fair Chance Hiring practices and connected over 10,000 justice-involved individuals to employment across the U.S.

Unfortunately, as many startups did, we took a major hit during the pandemic and weren’t able to make it through. So, my next step was to join another startup that shared similar values of inclusivity, equitability, and justice – and help them build that into their hiring practices. I was fortunate enough to find Volley, where I’m currently the Head of Recruiting; in my time here, I’ve helped the company more than double in size and hired for roles across every level (and in vastly varied economic markets).

I’m passionate about DEIB, fair chance hiring and criminal justice advocacy, and more broadly: helping good people find (and keep!) good people. During my down time, I enjoy reading, writing in my journal, and going to see live music around the Bay Area.

Ask me anything about recruiting, working at Volley, navigating the job search, resume writing tips and tricks, negotiating salaries, fair chance hiring, developing inclusive hiring practices…or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @adriennehatter!Elphas – please ask @adriennehatter your questions before Friday, March 3rd. @adriennehatter may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi everyone, Thanks so much for your questions! I answered as many as I could, and will try to get to a few more tonight if I can.For now: To all of you working to make hiring more inclusive: thank you. I'm with you, and always here as a resource and to offer support. And to all of you looking for work right now: I'm wishing you the best. And stick with it! It took me ages to find Volley--I know job hunting is NOT easy. The market may be tough right now, but it will get better. It always does. Good luck :)
Hey @adrienne, LOVED your background into recruiting. We definitely need more great people like you so we can set better practices in inclusive hiring. I have been training teams on inclusive sourcing and I hope that has moved the needle in a better direction. My question is, how have you handled and trained the hiring managers on better interviewing practices? I am constantly struggling with companies not having their hiring managers as involved as they should be. I have even been brought in to train HMs on best practices but even then, I feel I barely have their attention. I'd love to know how you got the buy in for the work you are doing.
Hey there, thank you! I appreciate the kind words. I’m gonna pull a couple of things from a previous answer I wrote, but before that: unfortunately, when it comes to buy in, it comes down to the hiring managers' and leadership's willingness to engage on this front. I joined Volley BECAUSE they shared these values, so I've gotten the support I've needed to do the work I do. This is not always the case. I've listed below a few strategies I've found that work well (especially for a growing company, or larger teams), but just know this: it's impossible for you to do this alone. And in fact, you shouldn't be doing it alone--but I know that's not always the case. Change comes incrementally -- one conversation, one interview question rework, may have a big ripple effect. Keep up the amazing work, and reach out anytime for support or to throw ideas around :)Ok, now to the answer: 1. First, as much as possible, ensure everyone internally is on the same page: you can find tons of free resources on inclusive hiring practices & unconscious bias—if the team doesn’t have time to read/watch them all, then you (or someone on the team) can summarize and disseminate it at a quick lunch and learn. Talking through these things, and providing a space for people to ask questions, is incredibly valuable. I’ve found that external trainings are valuable, but we similarly struggle with “getting people’s attention” — what I’ve learned is to follow those conversations up with breakout groups. Pull people into groups of 2-3, and have them ask questions, discuss what they’ve learned, etc. Sometimes, people are just afraid to have this conversation; they’re afraid to be wrong, or make a mistake—and providing a safe space to discuss these things is immensely helpful. If that’s not possible, then do a larger breakout group/conversation on content directly related to the company; maybe use an internal case study, or host a mock interview for a role they’re actually hiring form. Bring up a pain point at the company, and demonstrate how better practices here might solve for it. Ask people to speak up, to share questions (anonymously or publicly).2. If you’re having a hard time getting the hiring managers to engage on this topic, then work with what you’ve got: structure the actual recruiting process in a way that serves to eliminate bias. When it comes to building inclusivity into the actual interviews, we’ve done a few things: -We’ve removed any/all “subjective” attributes from scorecards. E.g., we don’t measure any candidates on: enthusiasm, passion, “culture-fit”, empathy, etc. Those things mean different things to different people — they are the definition of subjective and they can be a breeding ground for bias. Whenever and wherever you can, build out scoring rubrics that focus solely on job-related skills & experience. -We ask the same questions to every candidate, every time. We build out the interview questions that will be asked at the outset of the role requisition, and iterate if we need to along the way—it’s a bit more work at the top, but if every candidate is being asked the exact same questions, it ensures that the process removes a certain level of bias from the calls. 3. If you can, schedule weekly or bi-weekly syncs with hiring managers. Have these conversations incrementally, and by role. Set up scorecards for every interview, bug them until they fill them out, ask them why they scored a candidate this way. Recruiters are annoying -- I know this, because I'm an annoying Recruiter. But I always tell them: trust me that your insight here, now, will help us make the best hire. And I always profusely thank them for their time. Interviewing is a lot of work -- acknowledging that, and telling them what your role here is (to help them find the best person for their team), helps. And on the inclusivity front: make it bite-sized. Gently suggest they add more women to their interview panel, dig in to why they're scoring this candidate "low on enthusiasm" -- suggest they remove "enthusiasm" as a scored attribute entirely. Step-by-step, help them understand why this matters.I have a lot more to say about unengaged hiring managers, but I feel I’ve written a lot already — please feel free to DM me directly to discuss!
I LOVE this! Thank you so much and I am going to DM you to discuss more. I think the theme is to show them you are a talent advisor instead of "just a recruiter". I also laughed when you mentioned "annoying recruiter". SO true! That's our job.
Hi Adrienne, Thank you for your time and discussion! I am a recruiter for a small start-up. We care deeply about DEIB, but we do not have any official programs in place. I would love your suggestions on where to start from a recruiting lens or even if there are some quicker wins we can get as a team from your experience that even have a small impact on moving the needle, especially when it comes to eliminating bias during the interview process. Thank you!!
I love this question! And I appreciate that you’re even asking it: my favorite thing about startups is the opportunity to do things right the first time.The good news is, DEIB is a value system, a framework—it is the baseline upon which everything should be built. The “official” programs can come later to continue to support and nourish your company culture & community. For right now, here’s what I suggest: 1. First, ensure everyone internally is on the same page: you can find tons of free resources on inclusive hiring practices & unconscious bias—if the team doesn’t have time to read/watch them all, then you (or someone on the team) can summarize and disseminate it at a quick lunch and learn. Talking through these things as a group, and providing a space for people to ask questions, is incredibly valuable. 2. Another important piece here is ensuring your pipeline is diverse at the top of the funnel. Joining networks like Elpha to do your sourcing (and to post your jobs) will help ensure your jobs are reaching a broader audience. One of the major challenges of recruiting in tech is that the pipeline of qualified people coming through is going to be pretty homogenous, based on numbers alone. Put the extra effort in to getting your jobs out in front of a diverse group of talent to ensure that the pipeline is a healthy one. If you can’t afford to post your jobs on external platforms right now, then put that effort into developing your own network — via Elpha, LinkedIn, or any other talent/networking platform. 3. When it comes to the actual interviews, we’ve done a few things: -We’ve removed any/all “subjective” attributes from scorecards. We don’t measure any candidates on: enthusiasm, passion, “culture-fit”, empathy, etc. Those things mean different things to different people — they are the definition of subjective and they can be a breeding ground for bias. Whenever and wherever you can, build out scoring rubrics that focus solely on job-related skills & experience. -We ask the same questions to every candidate, every time. We build out the interview questions that will be asked at the outset of the role requisition, and iterate if we need to along the way—it’s a bit more work at the top, but if every candidate is being asked the exact same questions, it ensures that the process removes a certain level of bias from the calls. 4. Take a look at your process. We’ve done a few things (at no cost) to ensure our process is transparent and inclusive: -We add all interview steps to every job description so people know what comes next (and who they’ll be speaking to)-For project-based interviews, we provided 2-pathways to complete the project that support neurodiverse candidates who may not be comfortable with a “white boarding” exercise (performing under pressure, in front of an audience). -We also ran our job descriptions through inclusive language tools to see whether the language used was masculine/discouraging.5. Finally, we pay all candidates for any/all work they do for us. We pay flat fees for take-home projects based on a cost-per-hour scale, and we compensate all candidates who are interviewing with us for lengthy interviews (i.e., half- or full-day on-sites) that take away from time they could be spending at another job (getting paid). I could (clearly) write a lot more about this—and the tools/resources can look a bit different as the company grows—but ultimately, what it comes down to is: if you put the effort in, you’ll see results. There is no one-size-fits-all solution — and similarly, the efforts to solve for it should not be top-down; they should be baked in at every step of the process.Always happy to talk through this further -- feel free to DM me!
Hi Adrienne - I'd be interested in getting your perspective on my question here: In sum, my question is how realistic is it to attempt to land a product role in this market, with having the relevant experience but never a relevant title (and as someone who is currently unemployed)? In general, in this economy should career switchers go for roles they've been in previously and attempt internal transitions, given the increasing amount of people looking for new jobs?
I’ve seen this question a lot (and experienced it myself). A few things here: 1. This market is absolutely insane; we have so many applicants for our open roles, it is incredibly difficult to keep up. I would say it’s probably unlikely you’ll land a role without the direct experience that 20+ other candidates have in that space. All in all, I won't sugarcoat it: an application alone without direct experience will be very tough right now.2. However, you can reach out to recruiters or employees in the Product space at the company you’re applying to, and ask them for 30m to pick their brains on this topic. For example: “If I were looking to join your product team, what kind of tools/projects/management frameworks should I be familiar with?” Or, “I'm have a background in X, but I'm interested in the product space. If I joined in X capacity, what kind of internal mobility does your company offer? Do you provide career development?”3. Alternatively, early stage startups (think: Angel Investors, Series A) are actually a fantastic place for this kind of transition, if you’re okay with the potential risks. You’ll have the opportunity to wear a lot of hats, and you can get tangible experience in a lot of areas (i.e., product) and use that as a leveraging point for future jobs. Ultimately, I think the core factor here is how long you can afford to wait: in this market, I suggest applying to any- and every job you’re able to, and focus on getting an offer. The tides will turn again (they always do), and when it's the candidate's market again, that may be a better time to try to transition. Good luck!
Since you’ve been involved since the beginning, I’m sure you have seen it all when it comes to successfully launching a startup. A few questions 1) what makes a successful startup in your opinion? 2) how do you find a startup job? 3) are there red flags to watch out for?
Hi @emilyholcomb, thanks for your question! I’m by no means an expert on successful startups, but I can tell you what I’ve seen in my experience. 1. More than anything, look for product-potential. Is it solving a big problem? Is it doing something 10x times better than the solutions that already exist? Is it operating in a new space (where, maybe, “solutions” don’t exist yet but will be needed)? Ultimately, my marker for a good idea is that the further you dig, the more potential you see in it. No company gets it 100% right the first time — pivoting Amazon or AirBnB, for example. You can’t always anticipate success—but you CAN believe in the product you’re building. If you think it’s got a lot to offer the world, go for it. The worst that can happen is you get some pretty powerful career experience. 2. I recommend Elpha (of course) and Y Combinator’s Work at a Startup’s job board. You can also follow YC & other incubator/investor leaders, who often post about exciting new companies. If they’re small enough that they don’t have any jobs listed yet, reach out to the founders directly and tell them you want to help!3. Definitely, though they vary: -There can be some startups that find success in “hot” markets, but watch out for companies capitalizing on a ‘trending’ issue. They may not be sustainable. -Who are the founders? Who’s on the team? The leadership and the people ultimately make the product work, so look for people you believe in, too. -This is not a red flag so much as green one but, there are a few signals that are good to look out for: check out the incubator they went through, if any (YC is a big one), investors they have, and articles/podcasts they've been featured in. Ultimately: do your research, look for something that you think will make a difference, and do it with people you like to be around. Enjoy!
Thank you for the great info!
hi @adriennehatter! thanks for providing your thoughts :)I'd love to know what problems you (or your team) are currently facing that your recruiting tech stack:a. solves for youb. doesn't solve for youI work at a startup aimed at making the recruiting process more equitable, efficient and organized, without eliminating the control over the process that I know talent teams like to have - would love your valuable insight on what you're using/what's working!
Hi Adrienne, thank you so much for providing your expertise to this group! I am about to start a new job as TA Manager for a small company and have never been in a management role specifically over TA. Do you have any tips on trainings for new leaders that would be helpful? When you were in your first management role in TA, what was your philosophy that you used to ensure the decisions you made were the best for the team and the org? In regards to joining a small company with barely any standardization, what would be your priorities to focus on first?
Hello Adrienne,Thank you for spending your time here. I’m currently job hunting to switch careers - from Marketing to Strategy and Operations. I have 9 years experience spanning marketing and communications and I’ve also worked with strategy teams within various roles. How would you advise I go about improving my resume? I’m currently struggling to write my resume in a way that highlights my transferable skills. I held a General Manager role for 3 months at my current company, which is the one area it’s very easy to show these skills. I also often worry about including achievements that have nothing to do with my job title e.g. I mentioned above I worked with strategy teams, but it seems like it’ll be random to have my role as “Digital Communications Lead” and have a responsibility or achievement that speaks to process optimization.
Are you also in charge of employee benefits and wellness packages besides recruiting? If you aren’t, who would be in charge of purchasing wellness packages?
Hi Adrienne, Thanks for doing this! I run a small recruiting agency where we partner with startups to help them find technical talent. Some companies still require background checks. Given your background what do you think of background checks in the offer stage? How would you make a case to sway a company away from doing them?
Hi Adrienne! I was wondering if you have any tips for getting your resume noticed as a self-taught coder switching careers to front-end development?
Hi Adrienne! Thank you so much for spending your time here. I am not sure whether you have been involved about this in person, but I am really curious regarding recruitment for remote work situation, especially when it states that the job is open for worldwide. How does one stand out? From my experiences so far in applying for these kind of jobs, could my nationality and where I reside actually minus points?
Hi Adrienne, Thank you for providing your thoughts. What are your recommendations for following up with a recruiter that has gone quiet? I originally heard from a recruiter about an interview in December, I responded and since then there has been no response from the recruiter despite following up a few times.
Hi @marycucinell, thanks for your question! This is usually not a good sign — if you’ve followed up several times, it’s likely they’ve seen it and are choosing not to engage; I don’t believe anyone is too busy to reply to a direct message, in any format. If for whatever reason, you think it’s possible they haven’t seen it, you can try reaching out via LinkedIn (or an alternative platform), to try to get a response — but my guess is there is a reason they’re not responding. If you’re very interested in the role, you could try finding another contact at the company to reach out to about continuing the interview process, but I think the radio silence is a red flag — if I were you, I would focus efforts elsewhere.
Thanks Adrienne! What are your favorite resources to get data for salary negotiations? How many rounds of negotiations is standard and how can you best come across as firm but not entitled?
Hi, thanks for your questions. Internally, we have a salary database tool we use to structure our compensation bands, and due to California law, we now make those public on all of our roles--so you can see what we're able to offer you. Of course, not all companies do that (or even need to), so here's what I suggest: I've used Glassdoor's "What am I worth?" tool personally, but I don't necessarily have a favorite. I would say you can use whatever tool you'd like, but just make sure it's got the data to back it up (that is: bigger, name brand job search tools are better in this case).For negotiations, we're usually pretty transparent about what we can offer -- but 1-2 rounds of negotiation is expected. I don't think anyone asking for what they're worth is "entitled" -- if, however, they simply can't pay you as much as you're asking, you might ask them about other options to make up the total comp package (e.g., equity options or a bonus). Don't ever be afraid to ask for more; trust me when I say EVERYONE IS DOING IT. Remind yourself that we expect you to do this, and if we're making you an offer, it's because we want you!
@adriennehatter Thanks so much for offering this AMA. As someone who has never worked with a recruiter directly, what advice do you have? How can you stand out in your materials before that first contact to even catch a recruiter's eye?
Hi @drcarabc, Thanks for your question! There are a lot of ways to stand out, and a lot of it depends on the roles you’re applying for. But first and foremost (and I am not the first to say this): make sure your LinkedIn is up-to-date! It should be reflective of your resume, with slightly less information to make it catchy & easy to read. Do the same with all other profiles: we use LinkedIn, Elpha, YC Work at a Startup, & Wellfound (formerly Angellist) as part of our core sourcing strategies — so join them, and spruce up your profile on all of them! + If it makes sense for your industry, make a website & link your portfolio on your profile pages. Finally, if you can, make yourself a thought leader in some form or another: write blog posts, join local networking groups (shoutout Elpha!), write about causes you care about, share them on your profiles. Make yourself a candidate with the right experience, and a unique voice.Ultimately, recruiters are reaching out to people who fit the parameters that the Hiring Managers are asking for—that could be years of experience, industry-related work, a certain tech stack, niche product spaces, anything. You can’t do much about not fitting the exact parameters of an unknown hiring manager — but you can put yourself out there in as many places as possible…and ensure that when people visit your profile, it’s clean, strong & up to date.
Hi Adrienne! Your background is super interesting. I am a current senior in business school and am in the midst of my job search. I've found that it has been a bit tough finding open positions as an entry level candidate. I found most companies have been directly filling their entry level positions with their interns - do you have any tips or advice on how to stand out or where to locate these kind of jobs?
Hi @lynnbuholzer, Thanks for your question. A few things:First of all, you could try getting an internship — but a paid one. We pay all of our interns the same wages as an entry-level hire (we don’t believe in free work). During the interview process, you should ask about their appetite for full-time opportunities: “Have you previously hired interns full-time? Is there an opportunity for me to join your team full-time after my internship?”Usually, the tacit goal of any internship program is exactly that, so you have good odds there. However, even if you don’t land a full-time offer afterwards, you now have a network of new colleagues, and some solid experience in the area you’re trying to work.If you really don’t want to work in any kind of internship capacity, then I suggest two things: one, which I imagine you’re already doing, keeping an eye out for anything requiring less than 2 years of experience and focusing your application on any kind of relevant work you’ve done: project work at school, internships/apprenticeships, etc. and just keep applying—then, follow your application up with a message or two to someone at the company. Try to get a call scheduled if you can--putting a face to an application can make a big difference.Alternatively, if you find a company (or companies) you’re really excited about, reach out and make a connection. Even if they’re not hiring for that position now, they may be in the future — and they’ll recognize your application (or, even better, reach out to you first) when the role opens. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond; I have about 50+ messages in my LinkedIn inbox at all times, and do my best to get to all of them, but it’s not easy. Keep trying!Ultimately, landing your first job is the hardest part of any career journey — I know it’s challenging. Just keep after it; one day, a company is going to see your value and they’ll be all the luckier to have you join their team.
Hi, Adrienne! Here's a quick one: why do some companies employ a bot on their career pages that is going to ask you the same questions you are going to answer anyway as part of the application? It's double work! Thank you.